Loading Events

« All Events

  • This event has passed.

Friday Nights at CBE with speaker Dr. Yofi Tirosh

October 5, 2018 @ 7:30 pm

Register Here

Ticket includes admission to the event and dinner.

Mechitzah in the Marketplace: Gender Equality and Religious Accommodation in Today’s Israel

Israel defines itself in its constitutional documents as “a Jewish and democratic state.” One of the most daunting aspects of working through this somewhat oxymoronic formula has always been gender equality. Recently, this challenge manifests in new ways: How to balance between religious accommodation and full civic participation of women in public spaces such as the workplace, military, media, academia and public events.

On one side of this equation are Israel’s women, who have come to expect full access to education, opportunities, representation in the cultural sphere, and equal protection of the law. On the other side are communities who practice strict modesty and sex-segregation from early age through adulthood. The omnipresence of women in Israeli public life is problematic for ultra-Orthodox men who are forbidden to look at or hear the voices of women who are not members of their immediately family, and for religious men who find it hard to perform daily military tasks that involve close proximity to women. Their plea for accommodation of their religious beliefs inherently entails the exclusion of all women, Orthodox or not, from public life.

This conflict is not theoretical. Female soldiers have been placed behind a mechitzah when an officer perceived as Orthodox visits the troops, and are subject to strict and sometimes bizarre modesty commands, such as a ban on wearing white tops. Performances by female pop stars in public squares have been cancelled lest Orthodox men passing by inadvertently hear them sing. Some universities are now providing male-only classes in which female academics are not allowed to teach. Kosher supervisors refuse to grant kosher stamps if illustrations of women appear on the food package. Female Knesset members are disciplined for wearing sleeveless dresses. The list grows longer by the day.

In this talk, Professor Tirosh will outline the current cultural dilemma and the strain it is placing on Israeli women. We will critically examine the dominant paradigms of public and legal discourse on “women’s exclusion,” as it is dubbed in Israel, highlighting how concepts of multi-culturalism, neo-liberalism, and citizenship monopolize the discussion and overshadow the complex nature of choice and consent, the interconnectedness of segregation practices among institutions, and the complex and often overlooked conundrum of religious women in this context.

Dr. Yofi Tirosh is a Tel Aviv University legal scholar, a public intellectual, and an activist, currently the Head of the Sapir Academic College School of Law in Israel’s Negev region. In recent years Tirosh has been dedicating her academic and social change energy to highlighting the expanding phenomenon of women’s exclusion in Israel, by working against the growing institutionalization of sex segregation and modesty requirements.


October 5, 2018
7:30 pm
Event Categories:


Congregation Beth Elohim
274 Garfield Place
Brooklyn, NY 11215 United States
(718) 768-3814