Tuesday, May 28, 2013

HF Grantee Itach-Maaki Scores Win for Israeli Teaching Assistants

After a long battle to make the work conditions and benefits of teachers' assistants (who are overwhelmingly female) in the Haredi education system equal to those of teachers' assistants working in the public system, Itach-Maaki received a precedent-setting decision in the Jerusalem labor court last week, as follows:

The teachers' assistants employed via "Agudat Yisrael" (an association operating educational institutions in the Haredi community and funded by the Ministry of Education) have the right to conditions equal to those employed in standard public schools.  This decision is significant for two reasons:


·         This decision has the potential to bring about a change for thousands of teachers' assistants employed by associations by making their employment conditions equal to those employed directly by the regional/municipal authorities.

·         The decision promotes the definition of teachers' assistants as "education employees" by rejecting Agudat Yisrael's claim that only teachers are "education employees."

Furthermore, the decision is very significant for the teachers' assistants who were claimants in the case, not only because it recognizes their right to receive salaries year-round, like other education employees (instead of being paid only for the time that school is in session), but also for the legitimacy it gives to their battle for rights.  One of the leaders of the battle, an ultrra-Orthodox teaching assistant named Rivka, paid a significant price for her activism on this issue--she was fired from her job.  Itach-Maaki reports that upon learning of the court decision, she described a feeling of victory and legitimacy.  

 The following is a link to an article on the decision in the daily Haaretz newspaper (in Hebrew):  http://www.haaretz.co.il/news/education/.premium-1.2029446

Monday, May 13, 2013

Victory for Hadassah Foundation Grantee Center for Women's Justice!

Supreme Court Mikva Case:
"The Rabbinate Agrees: Don't Ask, Don't Tell"


The Center for Women's Justice and Kolech celebrate a victory for women's right to privacy and freedom of conscience.

In  response to  a petition brought by the Center for Women's Justice and Kolech to the Supreme Court (CWJ v. Minister of Religion, File 9740/11), the Chief Rabbinate has agreed to adopt the policy of  "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" with regard to the use of the ritual baths (mikveh). CWJ and Kolech brought the appeal in the name of two petitioners who had been prevented from using the mikveh  because they were single. After filing the petition, CWJ and Kolech attorneys learned that access to the mikveh is also routinely denied to  Reform or Conservative brides on the eve of their weddings.

Though the official position of the  Chief  Rabbinate remains that  single women are prohibited from  using the mikveh,  the Rabbinate has declared that "no woman who comes to use the ritual bath should be asked any questions regarding her personal status  and that the use of the ritual bath must not made conditional on that status"  (Affidavit filed in Response  to the Petition).

Having achieved its goal, CWJ and Kolech agreed to withdraw their petition, though still reluctant about how the new policy of the Rabbinate would be enforced. In response, the Supreme Court made it clear: "… the doors of the court were open, and remain open, to them."

Susan Weiss, the founding director of CWJ and attorney for the Petitioners: "We applaud the new directive of the Chief Rabbinate and pray that we will not have to return to the Court. Any woman who is denied access to the mikveh should let us know."

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Jewish Women's Foundations meet for annual gathering

The Hadassah Foundation, along with more than a dozen other Jewish women's foundations from across the US and Israel, met for their annual gathering in Chicago.  The Force for Change conference features one day of programming for foundation professionals (pictured above); tomorrow's program will address both professionals and the lay leaders of the funds.  The group owes many thanks to founding Hadassah Foundation Board Chair Barbara Dobkin, who has nurtured this gathering for many years--and who snapped our group photo!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Hadassah Foundation at Slingshot Day

The Hadassah Foundation attended Slingshot Day, the annual day-long gathering of innovators in the Jewish community.  Two Hadassah Foundation grantees, Moving Traditions and Keshet, that have been featured in the annual Slingshot guide that highlights innovative programs, also came today.  Above, Deborah Meyers (of Moving Traditions) and Idit Klein (of Keshet.)