Monday, May 11, 2009

Gateways excising photos of women too?

A guest post by Gadolwannabe

When you think that you have seen it all, well look again! It now appears that even our Kiruv organizations, i.e., those who reach out to the non-frum, unaffiliated and OTD have had to toe the line of the Rabbinic Taliban that have taken control of our newspapers, Yeshivas and minds.

Let’s take the case of Gateways, an organization founded by South African Rabbi Mordecai Suchard who has made it his mission to be mekarev those Jews who have very little formal knowledge of the fundamentals of Judaism. In the past few years, Gateways has run retreats, seminars and programs for those who would like to learn more about their heritage and get them to dip their toes in the waters of Torah. To fund these efforts, and to support a large professional staff, Gateways has run retreats for frum Jews for the Yom Tovim which have become some of the most popular, and expensive, getaways for Pesach, Sukkos, Shavous, and even Rosh Hashana. These retreats have attracted a mix of Yeshivish and Modern Orthodox. The presenters and scholars have not only included well known affiliated Rabbanim and guest lecturers such as Rabbi Paysach Krohn, but also female personalities such as Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis. They have elaborately and extensively promoted their programs and lecturers in glossy brochures and on their web site:

A few months ago, Gateways posted on its web site and distributed to those on its mailing list a brochure advertising their 2009 Shavous program which included lectures by Rebbetzin Jungreis. The Rebbetzin has been a regular lecturer of Gateways on Shavous. As you will note from the brochure, a picture of Rebbetzin Jungreis as well as of Mrs. Debbie Greenblatt, a staff presenter, were prominently displayed. Now, look at the same brochure which appears on the Gateways web site today. Sure enough, the pictures of Rebbetzin Jungreis and of Mrs. Greenblatt have been removed.

I can understand Hamodia or Mishpacha excising photos of Israeli female Ministers. They are playing to their constituents. But Gateways? Their constituents are supposed to be the Lost Souls of Israel who have been partying and eating chazer and for whom Gateways is supposed to be a lifeline to redemption. Where is the inclusivity and attraction when 50% or more of the population is consigned to the cutting room floor? Is Gateways afraid that their Yeshivish clientele will desert them if the Rebbitzin shows off her blond sheitel? Not, really. I have been at the Gateways Shavuos retreat and the Rebbetzin draws a larger audience that Rabbi Krohn, including many men.

Unfortunately, Gateways is another organization that does not have the cahones to stand up to the kanoim and bearded Taliban lunatics that are running the asylum. Where is Moshe Rabbeinu when you need him?

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