Haredi

Ultra-orthodox Jews: BBC offers an enlightening potrayal of women who want out

Ultra-orthodox Jews: BBC offers an enlightening potrayal of women who want out

It’s often very tough to get the inside story on closed communities such as the Amish, the Scientologists and Hasidic Jews. 

The big chink in the armor is when someone defects and that’s how BBC came up with its fascinating take about divorced Hasidic Jewish women in their multimedia presentation, “Scare the mother, save the child.”

The story starts with a photo of a woman who’s knocking at a door, her back to the camera. She’s wearing shoulder-length brown hair in a pageboy cut and it’s later when we learn that’s a wig, as married women in that culture don’t show their real hair. This is the only photo that runs with this piece. The rest of the images are lovely, sketched multimedia illustrations (all of which are  copyrighted, so we offer you a screen shot of the opening page). Then:

Inside the closed world of Hasidic Jews in the UK are stories of mothers who risk everything in order to leave their communities, with their children.
Emily and Ruth are two women who found themselves locked in lopsided battles - facing harassment, intimidation, and crowd-funded lawyers.
Neither of them realised what it would cost them.

The story goes on to tell of how the door finally opened into a room with two men sitting there. One spoke to her.

We hear that you intend to end your marriage, he said. Ruth would write down their conversation in a diary later. The men had been told that Ruth would be willing to leave her children with their father after their divorce. “No, that's not the case,” she replied, confused. This was not the conversation she had been expecting.
Then her interrogator mentioned some pictures.

Please respect our Commenting Policy

Burkinis, Ghazala Khan and the overlooked issue of female religious free choice

Burkinis, Ghazala Khan and the overlooked issue of female religious free choice

You should by now be familiar with the burkini brouhaha, and French officials' (all of them male, as far as I can tell) unconvincing claims that they're acting in the public good by trying to help liberate Muslim women from Muslim male-imposed dictates about allowable female beachwear.

Frankly, I think its a ridiculous overreaction to the very real problem of Islamist terrorism that has France on edge and desperate to find a successful strategy to assimilate (or at least pacify) it's growing Muslim population.

It has made for some strange bedfellows, though. Many journalists who are normally harshly critical -- and rightly so -- of the horrible treatment of women in some Muslim-majority nations have opposed the burkini bans put in place by several French beach towns, and backed by Prime Minister Manuel Valls.

Journalistically, this issue underscores the complexity of balancing respect for religious tradition -- or religious freedom -- in an age of Western secularism. Put another way, as the French seem to be doing, it's about preserving local social norms (scanty female beach wear) in an age of globalized (Muslim) population movements.

These overlapping complexities can be downright confusing for journalists unschooled in the importance of religious traditions to individual and group identity. At the same time they're what, for me, make the religion beat so intellectually compelling.

Please respect our Commenting Policy

Ultra Orthodox or fervently religious Jews?

The Jewish Daily Forward has a fascinating discussion of terms used to describe Haredi. It begins by noting that newspaper legend Seth Lipsky recently referred to “the leader of the largest grassroots organization of fervently religious Jews, Rabbi David Zwiebel of the Agudath Israel of America.”

Please respect our Commenting Policy

Rape and religion in Israel

Here’s a proposition for GetReligion readers: The quality of a news article should be measured not by how well it is written, but by how well it is read. The reporter’s task is to provide facts, context, and balanced interpretation of an event. However, if the reader is not able to grasp the meaning or context of a story the work, while being technically proficient, is unsuccessful as journalism.

Please respect our Commenting Policy