Daily Israel Report

Israel Celebrates 'Family Day' – Sort Of

Israeli feminists abolished Mother's Day and added a holiday that most do not realize has communist origins.
By Rachel Sylvetsky
First Publish: 2/10/2013, 6:21 PM

Mother and daughter read from prayer book.
Mother and daughter read from prayer book.
Israel news photo: Flash 90

Sunday is the 30th of Shvat, the Hebrew date on which Israel celebrated Mothers' Day, which has been abolished under feminist pressure and renamed Family Day. Feminists see Mothers' Day as imparting the wrong kind of message to women, by encouraging them to value motherhood over careerism and other forms of personal fulfillment.

Mothers' Day was first marked in Israel in 1947 at the initiative of the Ezra organization for assisting women in childbirth, which was headed by Rebbetzin Sarah Herzog, wife of then Chief Rabbi Isaac Herzog and founder of World Emunah. The date chosen for it was the date on which Zionist leader Henrietta Szold passed away. Szold had no children of her own but was active in bringing children from the Diaspora to the Land of Israel and was known as "the mother of the Children's Aliyah."

In the 1980s, feminists decided to rename the day Family Day. Arguably, the day has lost much of its emotional content under its new heading.

Two other days related to women are now marked in Israel. The first is International Women's Day, on March 8, which was originally adopted by communists in 1911 and became a Soviet holiday under Lenin. The day imparted anti-family messages to women and encouraged them to leave their traditional lifestyles and work outside the home. In later decades, faced with a huge population of homeless children, the Soviets under Stalin gradually adopted a more pro-family policy. The anti-family propaganda on International Women's Day was toned down accordingly and it became a day on which husbands give their wives flowers.

Israel's women's organizations tale advantage of the day to convey messages about violence against women, wage gaps etc, with some more radical feminist groups, heavily financed and influenced by the New Israel Fund, taking those messages to extremes.

Another day that has been introduced into Israel's public sphere is the International Day for Elimination of Violence against Women, set at November 25 by the United Nations in a 1999 resolution.  Although violence against women is a real issue, the radical groups convey similarly militant views  that are perceived by many as anti-male.

In the U.S., too, there has been feminist pressure to transform the romantic Valentine's Day into the militant V-Day. The main figure behind this initiative is playwright Eve Ensler, and according to its organizers, the "V" in V-Day stands for the word "violence."