There’s a Reason Hashem Invented Capitalism
The real haters won’t be satisfied until all the men close their gemaros. But for others – the majority of Israelis, I am led to believe – if families are self-sufficient and not on the national dole, they will be happy.
Yerushalayim Mayor Nir Barkat is apparently in the latter group. Following his speech at the Temech conference (inspired by Agudath Israel) earlier today for charedi women entrepreneurs, the mayor (himself a successful entrepreneur) had this to say to Eli Kazhdan, the CEO of a company that outsources English-speaking skilled labor to the West:
Eli, you can live in Jerusalem 50 years, but until you come to a Temech event, you don’t really get the feel of what’s happening on this front. For me, these aren’t 600 Haredi women entrepreneurs. These are 600 entrepreneurs, who happen to be Haredi and happen to be women.
[As for Eli (son of Israel Prize recipient and Harvard and Hebrew U prof David Kazhdan) Kazhdan’s outsourcing venture, I’ve got to think about what’s worse when calling Microsoft tech support – trying to figure out what language the person in India is speaking, or having someone yell into the phone, “Mah atah, metumtam?”]
I don’t know about other groups, but when it comes to orthodox Jews (charedi or otherwise) I know this: It’s not the women one has to be concerned about, it’s the men. The women, as this event shows, will be, and in fact, are already, just fine. The men are in real trouble, though. And if we don’t see real, major changes in their entire worldview, it won’t make a whit of difference what the women are doing, because they will all crumble apart together.
I feel ambivalent about this very brief, seemingly innocuous story. See, if a woman is single or married but childless, then I have absolutely problem whatsoever with her pursuing just about any career she wants, at whatever salary she aspires to. But the moment a woman is married and gives birth to her first child, it is really her husband who should be making his career the focal point of his life. And that is where I do have a problem with a man learning gemara. Learning Torah is wonderful, it may really be the reason we are created, but the man of the home has a responsibility to be the breadwinner of his home, so that his wife can be at home and focus her full attention on raising their children. If he already works full-time and then learns Torah during his free time, that is fine, but using Torah study to run away from working, strikes me as not being kosher.
Raymond, I think your comment is superfluous here. I’ve been to these conferences and most of those in attendance are NOT kollel wives. This is Israel, where generally both parents have to work just to keep their family’s heads above water. Even if their husbands are full-time professionals, religious women (especially since they tend have large families) have to help toward the family’s parnassa (speaking from personal experience). Such conferences help women network and get ideas for building and optimizing their businesses. The husbands, in this context, are irrelevant.