My name is Hadassa Margolese, I am the mother of eight year old Naama Margolese from Beit Shemesh. This blog is a forum for me to explain what is going on with my family, how it has affected us, and what we plan on doing about the whole situation. I believe, and I am not alone in this theory that the actions of the grown men bullying my daughter has a direct connection with certain extreme ultra orthodox sects to eradicate women from the public sphere. My daughter, and Beit Shemesh are a small example of what is going on in other communities and cities throughout Israel. I am a Torah Jew and not anti anyone, other than those who do not live and let live.
Starting the second day of the school year, extreme ultra orthodox, grown men stood outside my daughters school, and lined the sidewalks leading up the street to my home, yelling and screaming at the girls and mothers coming to pick them up: “Whores!” “Sluts!” “Get out of here!” Accompanied by spitting, and the occasional object throwing (eggs, bricks, water balloons, etc).
There was no one occasion. This happened on an almost daily basis for about two months. When we didn’t see the extremists next to the school for about a month, Naama said to me “the extremists left Beit Shemesh!”. When the extremists returned, Naama said “I guess they didn’t leave Beit Shemesh”.
I decided to start writing about what my family has been going through since September (actually, end of August…) primarily because I want people to know what we have gone through first hand, from me. There is so much going on in my head, that I feel that writing it down will help my frustration with the situation. The bullying I described above, is a direct manifestation of the current trend of women being pushed out of society. When I see powerful women, I am inspired to continue my “fight” for girls and women to not be pushed out of society.
Examples of what I am referring to are billboards and magazines where women and little girls faces are blurred or completely removed , buses where women are forced to sit in the back section, supermarkets and doctors offices where women are separated. Nowhere in Jewish law does it say that any of the above examples are necessary, or even to be admired as a religious stringency.
By attempting to remove us women from the eye sight of all men, these extreme ultra orthodox men are achieving the exact opposite. By spending all day thinking about how to have women not seen or heard, they are actually thinking about women all day long, thereby turning women into nothing but sex objects.
Women being pushed out of society is not anything that is new to me. I was yelled at to go to the back of a bus 8 years ago. It was a humiliating experience. I went to the back of the bus because I was afraid of being physically attacked. I didn’t have the strength to fight back yet. When it started affecting my daughter, I realized something had to be done. No one will bully, harass, or abuse my child without me doing everything in power to stop it. My head came out of the sand, quickly. I am grateful that the media attention this issue received helped better the situation in regards to my daughters school. However, the wider issue must still be dealt with.
I’m on a mission to be inspired by all the powerful women out there. There are so many influential women around me. I am inspired by the women who are making a difference in the world around them, instead of keeping silent.