Sephardi leader Rabbi Joseph Dweck says Belz driving ban makes women feel inferior


The leader of the Sephardi community in Britain has called the Belz ban on women driving “deeply upsetting” and against Torah.

Rabbi Joseph Dweck, the senior rabbi of the Sephardi and Portuguese Community, said the move would cause feelings of inadequacy and inferiority among women in the strictly Orthodox sect, and was “not in line with Torah’s call for the sanctity of the human being created in the image of God”.

In a letter last week the leaders of the Belz sect in Stamford Hill declared that women should not be allowed to drive, ruling that it was against “the traditional rules of modesty in our camp”.

They said that children would be barred from Belz schools if they were dropped off in a car driven by a woman.

Writing on Facebook, Rabbi Dweck said the restriction was “deeply upsetting on many levels” and made the Torah seem “restrictive, oppressive and anti-life”.

Judaism recognised the important value of reserve and modesty, he said, but this restriction was “a form of subjugation” which controlled and manipulated.

He added: “When a mother can no longer bring her children to school in the manner that is most normal in the region in which she lives, we must be deeply concerned with its direct effects on the dignity and sanctity of humanity”. Rabbi Dweck's discussion of modesty argues that "Reserve, or tseniut, as it is called in Jewish law, is meant in its essence to protect and uphold the value of something or someone by limiting its exposure. It is meant to treasure that which is most precious. Yet, it happens that when we aim to treasure something dear to us, we can cross a line."

Share via

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive