Feminism, Family, and Identity in Israel: Women’s Marital Names


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When she left her car with her infant daughter in her arms, Haredi men screamed at her for dressing immodestly and spat on her. Alarmed, Daniel ran back to her car, locking herself and her baby inside as the mob battered the vehicle with sticks and stones, shattering a window. She did not consider herself political.

But then, rightly sensing that this would result in little change, she reached out to a woman from a world completely different than her own. In doing so, she became a pivotal figure in a clash between the ultra-Orthodox and a widening coalition of women to determine the core values of Israeli society.

An economic boom after the war drove yet more women into the labor market. Some of this gender equality was illusory, as women discovered during the Yom Kippur War in When men were called up for military service, the entire country came to a standstill—revealing that women had been systematically excluded from certain jobs, such as bus driving. But for the most part, Israeli women have had relatively free access to birth control, abortion, and child care, and have been largely unencumbered by the ideal of the full-time homemaker and the attendant Mommy Wars.

And so laws were quickly enacted to give special status to Haredim, such as military exemptions for Yeshiva students.


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There were only at the time. Ultra-Orthodox Jews were also given tremendous autonomy over their own neighborhoods. This led to a strange democratic experiment in which radical secularism co-existed side by side with extreme Orthodoxy.


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Posters of women in bikinis dot the beaches of Tel Aviv, while bus shelters with images of even modestly dressed women are either torn off or spray-painted in Jerusalem. In recent years, however, demographic changes have made this paradox less tenable. Ultra-Orthodox birth rates have always been exceptionally high, and the once-tiny minority now comprises more than 10 percent of the population.

As their numbers have increased, so has their sway over political and civil life.


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Ultra-Orthodox parties have been the fulcrum of every single government coalition from until early Major parties competed with each other to make deals with the Haredim, often ceding authority over a number of domestic and economic issues to Haredi leaders in exchange for support on various foreign policy and security goals. These agreements, forged between ultra-Orthodox and secular political leaders—almost all of them male—have led to an increase in modesty signs on public boulevards and gender-segregated sidewalks in Haredi neighborhoods.

Women have been discouraged, and at times even prohibited, from participating in some official ceremonies. In short, restrictions that once affected only Haredi women are spilling into public spaces, affecting all women, and calling into question the justness of a model that allows gender equality to be a negotiable issue.

In less than a decade, the Haredim, once a nominal presence in the city, came to dominate the political landscape, electing their mayor, Abutbul, in Haredi housing projects and schools were built alongside existing neighborhoods, and residents had no choice but to pass through them as they went about their daily business. Haredi families, meanwhile, felt they were being forced to confront influences they found profane, such as provocative clothing, music, and media.

The victims of this strategy are usually women, whose bodies have become the battleground in what is essentially a religious turf war.

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And as Philipp and Vered Daniel learned, the harassment can easily become violent. You want me to say what? You want my daughter to wear what? And so, for the first time, women like Nili Philipp have started to cross the secular-religious divide.

(PDF) Feminism, Family and Identity in Israel: Women's Marital Names | Orly Benjamin - lareputkero.ga

On a recent afternoon, Orly Erez-Likhovski sat in the kitchen of her well-appointed townhouse in Mevasseret Zion. Tall, with tousled, short brown hair, Erez-Likhovski was dressed in a sleeveless v-neck blouse and slacks, an outfit that would hardly turn heads in Mevasseret, an upscale enclave tucked into the hills surrounding Jerusalem. The neat rows of homes are populated by secular families who choose to distance themselves from the ethnic, socioeconomic, and religious friction of places like Jerusalem or Beit Shemesh.

She has three children. Erez-Likhovski was raised in a secular intellectual family; her father was a professor of agriculture and her mother a banker. While looking for a preschool for her son, a friend recommended one at a Reform synagogue, a denomination that melds Jewish tradition with a Western liberal emphasis on egalitarianism, innovation, and diversity. While it is the largest Jewish movement in the United States, in Israel only a tiny fraction of the population identify as Reform Jews.

But Erez-Likhovski soon found herself attracted to the Reform movement—particularly its emphasis on social justice. Her rabbi suggested she join the movement professionally, as well as personally, and in , she became an attorney at the Israel Religious Action Center IRAC , the legal and advocacy arm of the Reform movement in Israel. Erez-Likhovski began working on the issue of gender segregation in when IRAC received a growing number of complaints over the new, segregated mehadrin , or kosher bus lines—the result of a cooperation between ultra-Orthodox leaders and publicly subsidized bus companies.

After ultra-Orthodox passengers bullied women sitting in the front seats of these buses, sometimes violently, Erez-Likhovski began to file complaints with the Ministry of Transportation. Azaria had been barred from posting campaign ads with her picture on city buses, because images of women were forbidden on any public buses routed through ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods.

You'll look at your society's wedding announcements with new eyes. Strangely, however, women have not embraced this freedom. In this tightly argued and intriguing study of married women's name choices in Israel, these creative scholars explain why pre-feminist practices persist and what impact conservative name choice has on gendered power relations in society.

No Woman, No Crime: Israeli Men, legally harassed by women

More importantly, it is a book about the power of naming and how conflicts about names among women and men have much to do with processes of subjugation as well as of liberation. With a point of departure in what the authors call "the cultural loading of the name," the book provides a multifaceted account of how women and men use different strategies in struggling to define themselves and their identities in contemporary Israeli society. Help Centre. Track My Order. My Wishlist Sign In Join. Rom , Orly Benjamin.

Be the first to write a review. Add to Wishlist. This book tackles a complex sociological project of examining three existing theories, and will prove to be important for the study of Gender and Middle Eastern Culture. See All Customer Reviews. Shop Books. Add to Wishlist. USD Buy Online, Pick up in Store is currently unavailable, but this item may be available for in-store purchase. Sign in to Purchase Instantly. Overview Women's inner struggle over their marital names reveal how they negotiate a specific identity location in each dimension of identity.

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Feminism, Family, and Identity in Israel: Women's Marital Names

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Feminism, Family, and Identity in Israel: Women’s Marital Names
Feminism, Family, and Identity in Israel: Women’s Marital Names
Feminism, Family, and Identity in Israel: Women’s Marital Names
Feminism, Family, and Identity in Israel: Women’s Marital Names
Feminism, Family, and Identity in Israel: Women’s Marital Names
Feminism, Family, and Identity in Israel: Women’s Marital Names
Feminism, Family, and Identity in Israel: Women’s Marital Names

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