Ha'aretz has a nice profile on a Chabad woman living in Kiryat Belz, Jerusalem. She is an attorney, and shares an office with her husband, also an attorney. The article points out the problems the family has faced because she is educated and has a profession – the complaints of the neighbors, the modesty patrol harassment, etc. But it all seems tame compared to the usual harassment these types of "progressives" usually face. Why? In part, as the article makes clear, their haredi neighbors do not expect learning from a Chabadnik, so her husband's work, as opposed to full time kollel study, is understandable to them. And she, as a Chabadnik, also gets a bit of a free pass, because Chabad is not taken seriously by other haredim. But still, why such tame opposition?
The woman is certainly an apologist for haredim:
As far as mesuravot get (women whose husbands refuse to grant them a religious divorce) are concerned, she identifies completely with the position of the rabbinical courts and rejects any claim of a humiliating attitude there toward women in general and towards women refused a get in particular. In the cases she represented, she says, the dayanim decided on sanctions against recalcitrant husbands, and would not agree to blackmail on their part.
This testimony flies in the face of so many recorded, documented cases of rabbinic court failure and corruption. Why would her experience with the rabbinic courts be so gentle? Perhaps this:
…Her father, Rabbi Haim Yehuda Rabinowitz, is the head of the rabbinical court in Jerusalem. Her eldest brother is the rabbi of the Western Wall. Another brother is certified as a dayan in rabbinical courts. Although she doesn't appear before her father, she says that people come to her because of the family reputation.…
Yes, that's right. she has protektzia. Her older brother is very close to Rabbi Elyashiv. Another brother sits on the rabbinical courts. Her father heads Jerusalem's rabbinical courts. And a first cousin, the son of the Western Wall rabbi, was just named as a religious judge in the appointment scandal. His appointment, along with more than one dozen others, was just voided by the attorney general due to irregularities and cronyism in the selection process.
When Rabinowitz-Naftalin says she does not appear before her father, she tells a partial truth. She does not appear in rabibnical courts; her husband Shaul does. They have a joint practice. As she mentions earlier in the piece, he pleads before the rabbinical courts, she before the secular courts.
No wonder the rabbinical courts treat their clients better than average. In Israel, especially in harediland, who you know and who you are related to is more important than truth. And who you know leads to money:
Relative to a young ultra-Orthodox couple, they enjoy economic prosperity, but not in an ostentatious manner. "I salute the families among us who live on bread and margarine," she says, "but I grew up in a home where we lacked for nothing, and I don't scrimp on food for the children." The couple go to restaurants, and a few times a year, on holidays, they travel abroad. "We have to get out," she says. "The work creates an emotional burden." Northern Italy and Switzerland are the preferred locales. Recently they were in Palma de Majorca…
In Israel, especially in harediland, conflicts of interest are not a bad thing – they are simply ways to increase the revenue stream. Gila Rabinowitz-Naftalin and her husband Shaul, both young and both only recently in law practice, can take advantage of an accident of birth and luck of marriage for significant financial gain. This is good for her clients, to be sure, even if expensive; but it is bad for society as a whole.