Appealing to Orthodox Jews, Israeli media remove women from view

by | Jul 21, 2023 | Religion

JERUSALEM (RNS) — For more than a decade, Shoshanna Keats Jaskoll, an Orthodox Jewish feminist, has been chronicling the gradual disappearance of women from magazines, advertisements and other media in Israel as modesty customs spread beyond the Orthodox Jewish world.“It’s been happening in the private Orthodox sphere, where magazines and advertisements and circulars don’t include photos of women and girls. It’s become the norm,” Jaskoll says. “It started with showing women in modest clothing, to blurring women in pictures, to completely taking them out.”
The trend began in the 1990s as Haredi and even some mainstream Orthodox communities in Israel and abroad embraced a more stringent definition of religious modesty.
The ultra-Orthodox Israeli newspaper Shacharit covered Israeli President Isaac Herzog’s July 19, 2023, address to the U.S. Congress in Washington, but erased Vice President Kamala Harris when it ran an article. Screen grab
In response, some fervently Orthodox men demanded that women sit in the back of public buses so as not to come in contact with men, a practice Israel’s Supreme Court deemed illegal.
Eventually, the guidelines on modesty spread to some segments of the non-Orthodox world, especially businesses and organizations with Orthodox clients.
From 2004 to 2012, Israel’s largest transportation company, Egged, stopped running advertisements with women’s photos in Jerusalem after the ads were repeatedly defaced. In 2017, the furniture manufacturer Ikea created an alternative Israeli catalog without a single photo of a woman. Both Egged and Ikea backtracked after public pressure.
But against the urging of women’s rights and human rights organizations, many non-Orthodox businesses, banks, cellphone companies, health maintenance organizations and even government agencies continue to show only men in their advertising, at least in some locations.
Determined to return women’s images to the public sphere, Jaskoll has created a unique photo bank of religious Jewish women and their families. Launched by the religious women’s advocacy organization Chochmat Nashim, the Jewish Life Photo Bank has become a resource for positive images of religious Jewish women.
Jaskoll came up with the …

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