The Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations (UOHC) has said a letter which appears to have been sent on its behalf, declaring that women should not be allowed to drive on Purim, is bogus.
The notice was sent on UOHC headed paper and warned members of the Strictly Orthodox Stamford Hill community that women should not take to the wheel if men were unable to drive because of drinking during the festival. It is a regarded as a mitzvah to consume alcohol at Purim.
The letter, which was circulated on social media, stated: “The public are informed that despite the mitzvah of shesiyah (drinking) on Purim, women should still not drive on the road in public.
“This has always been the way of the tsenuah b’yisrael (public decency) and it is incumbent on men to ensure they are in a fit position to drive if they are required.
“Emess Car Service have extra vehicles on the road to cater to extra demand.”
Chanoch Kesselman executive director of the UOHC, said: “This is a fake. People get hold of our headed paper and we can’t control it.
“Maybe they thought they were being funny for Purim. But we have not banned anyone from driving.”
He said the union had sent out official guidelines which focused on advice on how to enjoy the festival safely.
Purim, is based on the biblical book of Esther and celebrates the deliverance of a diaspora community from a genocidal antisemite. Eating and drinking is integral to the festival. According to one tradition, you should drink to the point where you become confused between Haman and Mordecai – although rabbis have warned people not to go overboard with the alcohol.
In 2015 British leaders of a major Chasidic sect declared that women should not be allowed to drive.
Belz rabbis said that having female drivers goes against “the traditional rules of modesty in our camp” and against the norms of Chasidic institutions.