• Being the wife of a Torah scholar

    Rivka Neriya-Ben Shahar (see profile)
    Communication Studies, Gender Studies, Jewish Studies, Religious Studies
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    This paper examines how ultra-orthodox women perceive the socio-economic reality of contemporary ultra- orthodox society in Israel. In practice most ultra-orthodox women work, and they play an important role in the financial support of their family. The ultra-orthodox press, a major socialization mechanism, has a dualistic approach to this paradox: on the one hand it encourages women to work in order to provide for their family and support their husband in his studies. On the other hand, it makes clear that work is not an aim in itself (a career), but rather a means (an occupation) for the financial support of the family. Through in-depth interviews, 25 ultra-orthodox women were asked about their reactions to a text published under the title “Be Modest” in Our Home (Habyit Shelanu) - a women’s supplement in the newspaper HaModi’a). The text argued that women’s important place is in the home, and they should maintain a sense of modesty regarding the hierarchy of their various roles inside and outside the home. An analysis based on grounded theory in the field found three voices: first, an essentialist voice, which perceives men and women as creatures who are different in essence and therefore have different roles; second, a sociological voice, which analyzes the socio-economic circumstances of ultra-orthodox society and assigns women the task of providing financial support as a matter of necessity, given the reality of their husbands being engaged in Torah study; third, a critical voice of women who dared to point out the dangers and repercussions of women going out and working: the destabilization of the husband-wife relationship, the family unit, and the social system in the ultra- orthodox sector. These very different voices, which will be explored using relevant studies, illustrate one of the fascinating developments taking place in Israel’s ultra-orthodox society in the twenty-first century.
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    3 years ago
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