Hagit Amir, a director of a northern Israeli daycare center that is part of the Na'amat organization, sent a letter to the children's parents informing them she intends to change the traditional Friday Kabbalat Shabbat ceremony "so as not to harm pluralism and gender equality". Na'amat says its "top priority is to advance and strengthen the status of women" in various arenas.
"First of all, we see Shabbat as a significant part of Israel's culture, so there will be a ceremony that will include the main characteristics: Candle lighting, eating challah, and Shabbat songs, and we decided to sit all the children together around the table," she emphasizes at the beginning of her letter.
Now comes the however: "As an organization, we're undergoing a process in which the curriculum is designed to reflect pluralism, multiculturalism, and gender equality. As part of the process, teachers are gradually learning to change Kabbalat Shabbat so it reflects gender equality. Therefore, the 'Father and Mother of Shabbat' roles were replaced with 'Shabbat persons' or 'Shabbat Receivers/persons-on-duty' ("mikablei Shabbat or mikabelet/Toran/it Shabbat"). With Shabbat Receivers, division into pairs will be arranged according to the order in the role-call, so that Shabbat Receivers may be a boy and a girl, a girl and a girl, or a boy and a boy.
"If someone takes a turn as a single, they will be determined according to the order in the role-call. In any case, from the children's perspective this is the role of bringing the challah and distributing it to the children during the ceremony (if there's a pair, one can bring fruit), no more than that. Parents who want their children to wear some head cover when it's their turn should inform Rachel.
"We would like to make it clear that there will not be a return to the ceremony in which there will be only gender roles of Mother and Father. However, we're prepared to open it up to a vote in the class between the two following options: Two Shabbat Receivers who may be a boy and a girl, a girl and a girl, or a boy and a boy, or, Shabbat Receivers/person-on-duty according to alphabetical order."
The letter is also signed by Haifa and haKrayot area educational supervisor Rinat Österreicher-Sheizaf.
Women of the Shovrot Shivyon ("Breaking Equality") organization protest the attempt to erase the gender identity of boys and girls already in their infancy. "According to this destructive plan, our children are no longer identified as boys or girls - who in the future will become fathers and mothers - but as 'genderless'."
Shovrot Shivyon demands that "the Kabbalat Shabbat ceremony be repeated in its traditional form, which respects all aspects of being and identity. As we approach the Day of the Family, let us strengthen the feminine essence and the masculine essence as complementary entities," the women wrote.
The Hazon movement, which works to promote a Jewish agenda in the country, wrote: "We're in a war; a war for the home, for life, and for normalcy. Will it be possible to have a normal life in the State of Israel? Will the father and mother be a normative family unit in the State of Israel in another 20 years? Unfortunately, the confusion is mounting, and there are radical bodies whose sole goal is to turn the abnormal into normative. The general public is now awakening to stop the erosion. The State of Israel shall indeed be a normal Jewish state. We call on everyone to join together and say enough insanity, we want to stay normal."
The Otzma Yehudit (Jewish Power) Party said, "Father and Mother run the natural Jewish family." Chairman Michael Ben-Ari said: "We must stop the demon's dance being performed in the name of gender equality and pluralism, and we intend to do so in the next Knesset term."