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Hareidi Parties to Allow Women in Office?

Prominent Rabbi notes that hareidi MKs are voting for a female presidential candidate - and says change is on the horizon.
By Nir Har-Zahav and Tova Dvorin
First Publish: 6/10/2014, 10:39 AM

Hareidi MKs
Hareidi MKs
Flash 90

Rabbi Amnon Bazaq, of Yeshivat Har Etzion in Alon Shvut, suggested that the presidential elections were a "significant turning point" for hareidi leadership on Tuesday, noting that hareidi MKs had been working with, and were planning on voting for, female candidate Dalia Itzik. 

''Since we know that hareidi MKs are working with the guidance of Torah Sages, this indicates a significant turnaround in their policy toward women," the rabbi wrote on his Facebook page. 

According to him, the hareidi leadership has already accepted the national-religious community's halakhic (Jewish law) ruling to allow women in politics.

''In light of this we are likely, in turn, to see hareidi women make new advances in all parts of society, including political leadership," the Rabbi continued, "and to see the practice of harrassing hareidi women who do try to enter into politics stop, as women look for new political frameworks within Israeli society." 

Rabbi Bazaq added that if the hareidi MKs are allowed to vote for a female presidential candidate, then they are also - contrary to the opinion of Rabbi Shlomo Aviner - allowed to vote for women to head local or religious councils. ''

"But if this does not happen," he warned, "it will raise questions once again about the ways hareidi leadership manipulate halakha according to their political needs." 

During the previous Knesset elections, both Shas and United Torah Judaism stated that men and women "have different roles" in life, dismissing public debate over their refusal to include women in their political parties. 

As a whole, the hareidi leadership has been opposed to having women run for political office. In 2013, a hareidi woman decided to run for the Jerusalem city council with the Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home) list, but dropped out of the race after coming under heavy pressure from her community.