For Orthodox Jewish candidate Amber Adler, life on the campaign trail is a bit different from the men in her community. While Orthodox Jewish men are featured prominently in local magazines and newspapers in her Borough Park neighborhood, Adler, a female has not had her picture published by the local papers.
Adler is 37 years old and she’s the first woman from her neighborhood to run for public office. Her local community papers refused to publish her photo…because she’s a woman. She can run campaign ads in those newspapers. They will take her money, but they will not publish her photograph.
Although it’s an historic moment for Orthodox Jewish women, being only the second woman to run for office in New York City, her face will go unseen by many.
“If you’re designing a building and you’ve never seen someone with a disability, you won’t understand that you need a ramp. Obviously those people are going to be left out. That’s what’s happening [to women] in Orthodox Judaism right now,” said Shoshanna Keats Jaskoll, a Jerusalem-based writer and activist who opposes banning images of women from Jewish media. “Community leaders are making decisions without even considering how they’re going to impact women.”
It hasn’t always been this way. As the world around them advanced, inside the Orthodox Jewish community things began to change about twenty years ago for women.
The erasure of female images from Orthodox media began over two decades ago as a fringe movement in insular Hasidic neighborhoods in Israel (Hasidism is a subgroup of ultra-Orthodox Judaism known for its particularly stringent positions and mystical leanings). The practice is not explicitly dictated anywhere in Orthodox law.
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