Above: Ruth Colian
For First Time Ever, Haredi Women Form Political Party, Announce Run For Knesset
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
For the first time in the history of Israel, a political party founded and led by haredi women will run for Knesset.
The Bizchutan Party – the name means "in their merit" – will run in the March Knesset elections, NRG reported.
Bizchutan is headed by Ruth Colian, a social activist who has worked to promote the advancement of women. Noa Erez, billed as a legal expert, is the list’s Number 2 while a 21-year-old college student studying business administration, Keren Mozen, is has third place on the list.
All three jointly announced the party’s founding at the Zionist Organization of America’s Israel office in Tel Aviv earlier today.
Top haredi rabbis have been almost universally opposed to women holding seats on city councils and local boards, let alone Knesset, and are likely to oppose the new party.
Update 10:58 am CST – Allison Kaplan Sommer was at the press conference announcing the new party. She has a detailed report on it posted on the Ha'aretz website. Here's the key excerpt:
…As examples of the failure of the current male representation in the ultra-Orthodox parties to represent the interests of women in their community, Colian noted the absence of ultra-Orthodox male MKs in Knesset sessions on breast cancer, despite the fact that the disease is twice as likely to strike haredi women. A major part of the problem, she says, is the inability to raise public awareness for early detection because the topic is considered “immodest.”
She also pointed to the shocking story last week of an ultra-Orthodox mother of seven who was arrested for refusing to accept a Jewish divorce, and after collapsing, was handcuffed to a hospital bed by police acting on the orders of rabbinic judges. Colian asked “where were the ultra-Orthodox politicians” when this woman needed their help.
Both Colian and Erez, who are married with children, admitted they were “fearful” that there would be retribution against their families in the ultra-Orthodox community from leadership who disapproved of women entering public life and openly worried that their children would suffer in their ultra-Orthodox schools. “This isn’t easy for any of us to do this,” she said, though all said their families were supportive.…
Other haredi women pursuing political office in the past have faced ostracism and threats.
“I know we will pay a price for this,” said Colian. “But we must give haredi women an address in our legislature. We have a lot to give and I believe we can do it.”…
[Hat Tip: Joel Katz.]