A few final points:
I don’t think the driving ban is a good thing.
I also don’t think that the Belzer Rebbe is very interested in my opinion, nor that of the JC, nor the many other people who have written about it, or now, the Equality and Human Rights Commission. If anything, the uproar will make the Belz community more entrenched in their worldview.
Given that, and given that this formal ban affects only a very few women, (probably fewer than 15) because most of the Belzer women didn’t drive anyway, I still don’t see what was the point in running this as a front page story – was it really the most important or interesting thing that happened in the Jewish world last week?
As well as all the misinformed articles and anti-religious comments, there have also been some very interesting articles, such as this one in Times of Israel.
The topic of self-oppression is discussed here and described as ‘the most insidious form of tyranny and the hardest to root out.’ I wonder about cultural imperialism though – if the women don’t feel oppressed and are happy, what is the difference between imposing outside values on them and them trying to impose their values on others?
I’m very surprised how shocked so many people in the Jewish community were by this story. Did they really think that Chassidim were just United Synagogue members in quaint clothes?
The question of sexism in the Orthodox world is a huge and complex one. There certainly isn’t overt ‘crude’ sexism in the #EverydaySexism manner. Is ‘different but equal’ apologetics or sexism under a different name? I’m not sure. I’m a well-educated Orthodox woman, who mixes in a number of different circles in the community. I’ve only experienced overt sexism once in a professional context and it was not in the far right part of the spectrum.
There are amazing, creative and inspiring people in all parts of the Jewish world. Anglo-Jewry is a microcosm of world Jewry and contains a significant number of such people – both women and men and in all parts of the religious spectrum. Instead of sniping at each other, maybe we should learn to celebrate our differences and our achievements and run more programmes which promote understanding and intra-faith activities? Gesher in Israel is an excellent example of this.