Amid all the Facebook posts about the heart-rending violence taking place at this moment in Israel and Gaza, this photo of a bomb shelter door in Ashdod leapt out. It says that the bomb shelter is only for men and boys.
We don’t know if there is a separate shelter right next to this one, designated for women and girls. Nevertheless, it is gender segregation at its most outrageous.
It reflects how deeply the notion that men and women must be separated at all costs has taken hold — even in life-threatening situations, such as when the sirens sound the alert that rockets are falling.
There may be a women and girls’ shelter next door. There may not be. My Hebrew isn’t good enough to be able to read all of comments this photo has sparked on Facebook, some of which might shed light on the question, and Bing does a lousy job of translating them.
But even if there is, what if going to the female-only bomb shelter requires women and girls to take a few more steps than if they were allowed in this one? What if that puts them in harms way?
This is worth highlighting, particularly as the Jewish Federation of North America’s General Assembly gets down to business today in Baltimore (it runs through November 13). The presently dismal rate of hiring women at the top of large Jewish federations “paint[s] a picture of an institution out of touch with some of the key trends in today’s Jewish world,” Rettig Gur writes.
The issue in the organized Jewish world is not limited to federations, of course. In the most recent of its annual surveys of compensation in 76 national Jewish organizations, The Forward found “a picture of communal stagnation in gender equality, as the number of women in leadership roles remains at the same low level, and the gap between male and female salaries has grown even larger.”
That there are even two women heading the largest federations is a recent development. San Francisco’s federation appointed the first woman to head one of the “big 19” in 2010, and Montreal’s hired a woman at its helm last year.
Women are running a growing number of Jewish organizations, at least those represented in “Slingshot: A Resource Guide to Jewish Innovation.” While about half of the groups selected in recent years for the annual guide of 64 innovative Jewish organizations have been led by women, this year the percentage has shot up to 64%, or nearly two-thirds.
It’s no accident that the groups selected for Slingshot, which tend to be relatively young and small organizations, place a premium on women’s professional leadership, said Rabbi Jill Jacobs, executive director of Rabbis for Human Rights-North America, whose organization is one of those chosen for the guide.
“Slingshot highlights organizations outside the traditional mainstream, working with younger populations or social justice or the arts,” she said. “Mainstream Jewish organizations haven’t been as open to women’s leadership. So women realize we need to create a different kind of community and are creating what we want it to be,” she said.
This is the eighth annual guide put out by Slingshot, a New York-based organization of “next gen” funders, most of whom are in their 20s and 30s. This year, the guide includes 64 organizations — 50 in the main list, plus 14 more-established groups in a category called “standard bearers.” The guide will be published November 5, when a PDF download will be made available. The printed book, delayed by Hurricane Sandy, will be sent out to some 7,500 philanthropists a short time later.