Author: Elana Maryles Sztokman
Source: from publisher for review
Links: Amazon|Indiebound |Goodreads
Summary: This thought-provoking book is well-written and addresses issues relevant to everyone.
Although in many ways, Israel has historically been progressive in terms of women’s rights, ultra-Orthodox Jewish extremists are influencing the government to curtail women’s freedoms in frightening ways. From segregated buses and streets to mobs attacking women who wish to pray in public, the results of this lobbying are terrifying. Resistance is also growing and there have been some great victories for women’s rights, but the problem is far from resolved.
I picked this book because I thought the topic was something I should be more knowledgeable about, but I was concerned it would simply be frustrating to read about infringements of women’s rights. And at times, it was frustrating and infuriating. Fortunately, the author does also include success stories and ends on an optimistic note. Even the depressing and unresolved issues were informative and interesting to read about. It also served as a call to action. The fact that a first-world country like Israel could slide so far backwards in terms of women’s rights terrifies me. Until now, I’ve been happy to keep an eye out and so my best to correct sexist comments and institutions. After reading this book, I feel that it would be worth my time to become more politically proactive about women’s rights issues. Something like what is currently happening in Israel cannot be allowed to happen here.
I came away from this book thinking far more about the issues discussed than the author’s writing style, but for the sake of a complete review, here are some thoughts on that too. The author writes clearly and the book is very well organized into chapters focusing on specific issues and causes. Occasionally the author repeats an anecdote, but this is a minor problem and perhaps better than referencing a past anecdote without reorienting the reader. I loved the interviews she included in her work and thought the book seemed very well cited. Although the topic might seem irrelevant to those of us in countries other than Israel, I think it’s a very worthwhile read for anyone. It raises awareness of possible directions our countries could be driven in by religious extremists and serves as a valuable reminder that rights we don’t fight for can easily slip away. I highly recommend this thought-provoking book to feminists, historians, and everyone else.
Have you ever read a book which inspired you to take action? I’d love to hear about it!