Hasidic Member of Knesset Says Women Belong at Home

A Hasidic member of Knesset unleashed a furious reaction when he told a television talk-show host that he would prefer women would not be elected to public office because their place was in the home. In fact, he would also deny women the right to vote.

Rabbi Moshe Ze’ev Feldman, a yeshiva dean and Gerer Hasid, represents the Agudat Yisrael party, one of the three Haredi, or ultra-Orthodox, parties in Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir’s coalition.

But the outrage of the eight women members of parliament, shared by many of their male colleagues, crossed party lines.

Sara Doron, chairwoman of the Likud Knesset faction, took the rostrum to remind Feldman that it was largely through her efforts that he was awarded the important post of chairman of the Knesset Finance Committee.

“His grandmother, who taught him that two and two make four, obviously didn’t teach him much more than that,” Doron snapped.

Edna Solodar of the Labor Party asked rhetorically, “What is someone doing here who lives in the Middle Ages?”

Geula Cohen of Tehiya suggested that “a man who is obviously cut off from both Heaven and Earth ought to be cut off, too, from the infusion of ‘special funding.’”

That was a reference to the controversial government subsidies given the Haredi parties for their religious schools.

Dozens of women picketed Feldman’s home in the religious township of Bnei Brak, northeast of Tel Aviv, on Wednesday. The demonstrators urged local women to join them, but they had little if any success.

Most of them had no idea what the furor was about, as the Haredim do not have television sets at home.

In any event, residents of Bnei Brak, women as well as men, seemed to be of the same mindset as Feldman.

The JTA Daily News Bulletin will not be published Wednesday, Dec. 25.

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