A NEWSPAPER THAT SERVES the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community took a small but significant step for women last week when it printed a picture of Hillary Clinton, partially obscured, speaking at a campaign rally in Florida.
The photo was first picked up by a Jewish blog, Only Simchas, which wrote about it under the headline: “History Made: Yated Ne’eman Publishes a Picture of Hillary Clinton. A Woman!” The photo shows only Clinton’s hairdo and raised arm, but it goes further than other images used to illustrate articles about Clinton in the ultra-Orthodox press. In the past, editors of Yated Ne’eman and other papers have instead used political cartoons or photos of Clinton’s husband, Bill.
The obscured photo ran only in the print edition of Yated Ne’eman, an English-language weekly published in Rockland County, NY, whose name means “the faithful peg,” a reference to Isaiah 22:23, where the prophet speaks of placing a divine servant as a “peg in a sure place.” The paper’s website carries only a small selection of articles each week.
I recall a panel I was on a few years back with participants from a variety of religions. The Muslim scholar would not even shake the organizer’s hand because she was a woman. This, I was told, was to protect her virtue. I remember pointing out on that panel that there are real problems facing the world. Is war ever justified? Should we legalize drugs? How do we work together to fight world hunger? It’s a pretty bleak picture of how we’ll tackle these issues if religion manages to convince us that we need to be wrestling with whether or not it’s ok to shake a woman’s hand or to print a woman’s picture.