A poignant victory message arrived from The Netherlands recently. Sent by Bettina Sanders of the Dutch Jewish Women’s Group DEBORAH, it reads:
“VICTORY for Jewish women in the Netherlands!
“After a struggle [of] 20 years, the Dutch Jewish women’s group DEBORAH finally succeeded. Till 14th June 1998 women were barred from being elected in the Centrale Commissie [the national religious council of the Netherlands].
“In 1982 the Central Commission already admitted women in their midst, but the execution of this decision was blocked by some rabbis. DEBORAH was not defeated and continued its struggle. But the decision-making was in the hands of men and we were dependent on their good will. It took a long time of consciousness-raising.
“Last year the Permanente Commissie [the daily board of the Dutch Orthodox Jewish communities] opened again the case. This time the deliberations were more in favour of women. In the bi-annual meeting of February the majority voted for female members of the national council….
“Today women are still not admitted to the Amsterdam Council, but it is a question of time. DEBORAH’S members stay optimistic.”