The daughter of the late spiritual leader of the Shas party spoke out Friday against the exclusion of women from Haredi public life and condemned the practice of blurring women’s faces in ultra-Orthodox publications.
Speaking at a panel discussion on Judaism, Zionism and Israel at the Yitzahak Rabin Center in Tel Aviv, Israel Prize winner Adina Bar Shalom said she was “greatly ashamed” that the Shas publication “Day to Day” ran a photograph of the newly elected government with the faces of female ministers blurred out.
“I fear that if this continues, we will have to veil our faces,” Bar Shalom told participants.
Bar Shalom recounted how her late father, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, reacted with shock and anger after seeing a family photo published with the faces of his wife and mother blurred out.
If a man cannot look at a woman and say ‘What a healthy and handsome woman the Almighty has created,’ then I do not know what is happening to us
“What nerve — neither of them are alive anymore, what is this supposed to be?” she recalled Yosef as saying.
“Ultimately, they’ll all be in veils,” her father went on to tell her.
Bar Shalom warned that the trend of “disappearing” women from the public face of the ultra-Orthodox world could have worrying consequences for the future.
“If a man cannot look at a woman and say ‘What a healthy and handsome woman the Almighty has created,’ then I do not know what is happening to us,” she said. “And I fear that if this continues, we will have to veil our faces.”
Bar Shalom said that while there was plenty of objection to the practice, the ultra-Othordox community silenced any vocal opposition out of fear.
A number of ultra-Othodox newspapers heavily edited last month’s photo of the 34th cabinet by pixelating the faces of Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked and Senior Citizens, Minorities and Gender Equality Minister Gila Gamliel.
While their faces were not shown, the editors appeared to have overlooked Regev’s legs, which — knees and all — are scandalously visible.