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Letter from Israeli Feminist

The one-year lease on our Feminist Center in Tel Aviv is coming to an end and we [The Feminist Movement of Israel] are desperately trying to raise money. To our great pleasure, a group of 23 women artists— some even famous!!—agreed to participate in a group show at the Center called “Women in Art” in October, and contribute 30% of sales to the Center. The show includes painting, sculpture, designer jewelry, silk prints. After the show closes the artists are scheduled to hold a round table at the Center with women artists who refused to participate in the group show.

We’ve been having a two-month petition-signing campaign going on to save the abortion law even though it is not a good law. We’ve scheduled a public forum on “Why Abortion is a Feminist Issue.” The Jerusalem branch has been performing street theater on the subject, while signing petitions. Haifa and Beersheva (new branch) are also cooperating on this.

We have decided to cooperate with the League for Equal Rights for Women in the Courts [see LILITH Vol. I, No. 1, Tsena Rena], which is essentially a group of non-feminist women who are trying to improve women’s position in the rabbinical divorce courts by pressing for more flexible and modern interpretation of the halachah (Jewish law)—which they say will still keep it strictly Orthodox. We may offer them the use of one of our rooms for a divorce arbitration court they are trying to create, so that the divorcing couples will make all their financial and other arrangements out of the regular court, and thus save money on rapacious lawyers and (mostly) uncaring rabbis. They are also pressing for the acceptance of a premarital agreement granting automatic divorce to the wife under certain conditions —which would be a big step forward here.

The Herzliyah sub-branch (it’s really part of Tel Aviv) is gingerly trying to create a rape crisis center. (I say gingerly since the police here are not exactly what you would call up to date.) If it works we hope it will spread.

The Beersheva women have formed a health collective to try to improve the primitive conditions in the Beersheva maternity (only one) hospital.