Jewfem Blog

Listen to the radio talk about seat-switching on planes on CBC's "The Current

It's been a long time since travelling by air was a glamorous way to go. We're pretty well become used to removing the shoes at security check ins... and the ever-shrinking seat sizes in Economy.  But now some women, especially on flights to and from Israel, are encountering what they say is an unacceptable aviation irritation. They're being asked to switch seats by some ultra-Orthodox Jewish men who refuse to sit next to a woman who are not their wives. The practice has become prevalent enough to motivate a campaign, and inspire an online video spoofing the Israeli airline, El-Al. Now, we should note that not all passengers report being upset at requests to switch seats with ultra-Orthodox, or Haredi men... But  Elana Sztokman certainly was.   Listen here

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Thank you for a great 2014

I'm honored to be included on the Forward's list of top ten women worth reading (Thank you Batya Ungar-Sargon!)   It's been an amazing 2014, full of intense writing, debate and community building. Some of the highlights for me were:   * Creating the Facebook group for people who are FEDDD UPPPP with the status of women in Orthodoxy (FEDDD UPPPPP: Feminist Forum For Empowerment and Exchange to Discuss, Debate, Defuse and Unpack Unfair and Uncompassionate Patriarchal Practices and Paradigms in Positive and Proactive ways...) that now has nearly 1800 members and has become an amazing place of support and collegiality (a virtual conscious-raising group)   *Covering the awful Freundel scandal ("the pervert with the pulpit") and helping be a part of a community-wide conversation to change power structures and control of wommen's intimate lives in the religious Jewish world    * Launching my new book, The War on Women in Israel, and going on a great book tour (two actually) around the United States to talk to people about this important topic   * Doing an interview on the Brian Lehrer show on NPR :-)  (And thanks to all the other interviews as well -- NPR Chicago Jerome MacDonnell, Voice of Israel, TLV, The Jewish Channel, etc)   * Weighing in on the terrible war in Israel, and coming out with my own story of political evolution, from yeshivah girl to feminist peace activist at Lilith  (expect more on this in 2015)   * Winning the National Jewish Book Council for my previous book, Educating in the Divine Image, with my colleague and co-author Dr Chaya Gorsetman (my SECOND JBC award.... wow)   * My El Al experience with haredi men on Tablet that went viral (who would have thought.....)   * My commentary on Kallah Teachers that also went viral   * Joining the board of the amazing El Halev with Yudit Sidikman (more on this in 2015 too)   * Helping my husband, Jacob Sztokman, provide 275,000 hot nutritious meals to children in the slums of Mumbai, 1000 each day prepared by 140 women in a women's empowerment cooperative. Read more about Gabriel Project Mumbai here   Thanks everyone for the great conversation and for all the important work in trying to make the world a better place for women (and MEN!)   Have a great 2015!  

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Talking about gender segregation on airplanes: A Voice of Israel Radio

I must admit that I did not see this coming. The buzz that has been generated around the story of gender segregation on the airplane, which has been reported now in at least half a dozen media outlets including The Telegraph and the Australian news, and has over 14,000 hits on Tablet alone  -- wow. I'm not sure why this particular story has suddenly generated such an outcry, as opposed to many other stories about gender segregation and religious radicalism. Maybe it's more like the straw that broke the camel's back in the sense that people have been experiencing this kind of thing for a long time and are finally fed up. In any event, I've spent much of the past two days engaged in all kinds of discussions online and in person about the issue of gender segregation and religion. And I'm really grateful and gratified that the conversations are happening this way. I hope that they are happening in the right places as well, places where change can happen. At least one piece of activism: Susan Shapiro started a petition to El Al, as Allison Kaplan Sommer reports in Haaretz. Meanwhile, here is an interview I did on Voice of Israel radio yesterday, on the Mottle Wolfe and Eve Harow Show. (It's really called the Mottle Wolfe show, but I felt the need to correct that gender inequality.....) REB MOTTLE: MILE HIGH SNUB What do you think?

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