Hillary Clinton has gone where no woman has gone before – the cover of Yated!

hillary yatedYes, that’s really her arm – and her sleeve is threatening to slide above her elbow!

Things are getting more complicated by the minute for the Haredi press.  It was bad enough that the Treasury Department announced new designs earlier this year for several bills that will incorporate women, including Harriet Tubman, Susan B. Anthony and Eleanor Roosevelt.  Ultra-orthodox men will now be forced to carry around pictures of women in their wallets, and even fondle their faces as they attempt to find the proper currency to purchase a Shmiras Einayim sefer from their local Jewish book store – exchanging the forbidden photos with all the shame and excitement of young adolescents swapping issues of old girlie magazines stolen from the corners of their father’s closets.

However, with the looming prospect of the first female American President being elected this November, some of the papers that have historically shunned showing images of women will now have to rethink their policies.

Right now most of those papers have written stories about Hillary Clinton either eschewing a photo all together, or showing loosely related images of her surroundings.

An example is this recent photo of her supporters that appeared in Mishpacha magazine accompanying a story about her strategic DNC acceptance speech:

hillary1(note the signs don’t even have her name on them)

Or another photo from the same publication of her husband Bill Clinton when Hillary finally clinched the nomination as the Democratic Presidential candidate:

hillary2Indeed, if Hillary wins, it will most likely appear as if Bill Clinton has won a 3rd Presidential term in the Haredi press, as his face will likely be switched out for hers wherever possible.

Ari L. Goldman of the Columbia Journalism Review writes that:

In interviews, the editors of four major English-language ultra-Orthodox publications, three of them published in New York and one in Jerusalem, said that they are reevaluating their no-women policy in light of the Clinton candidacy, but would not make any final decisions alone. As with all important decisions, they will take the question to the boards of rabbinical advisors with whom final authority over the publications’ content rests. One of the editors, a rabbi himself, said that a Clinton victory could spell a change in the longstanding no-women policy in his paper and the others. “I think we’re going to have to rethink it,” Rabbi Yitzchok Frankfurter, the executive editor of Ami Magazine, told me. Not to do so, he said, “would be disrespectful.””

This is a big statement coming from a publication that has a well-known policy not to use any photos of women, and has been accused of cropping women out of photos for its publication.

Goldman goes on to say:

All of the editors said that the practice of not using women’s photographs started with the Israeli papers, which set the standard. Most of them said that the vast majority of their subscribers read other publications with pictures of women, but that they declined to use women’s pictures out of fear of alienating the more observant segment of their readership.

The adoption of this standard has led to some foibles that garnered worldwide media attention.  For example, in an excerpt of Goldman’s CJR piece, OnlySimchas reprints a photo from 2011 when Di Tzeitung, published in Brooklyn, digitally removed then Secretary of State, Mrs. Clinton, from a picture of the White House situation room on the night of the military operation that assassinated Osama bin Laden:

hillary3Goldman says, “While the editor of Di Tzeitung apologized for manipulating a White House photo, which is a violation of the licensing agreements, Rabbi Frankfurter of Ami defended his stance, saying that cropping is “done routinely by most papers and magazines.

Also shown in the OnlySimchas excerpt is a photo that circulated among Haredi publications that cropped out Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel, from a long line of world leaders at the huge rally in Paris after the murder of the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists:

hillary4Goldman writes, “But continually cropping out President Hillary Clinton might prove too much even for Rabbi Frankfurter. “We would be locking ourselves out of a lot of opportunities,” he said. “We couldn’t even run photos of the White House Hanukkah party.”

Interestingly, the publishers and editors of two prominent Haredi newspapers with a no-women photo policy are women themselves, Ruth Lichtenstein is the publisher of Hamodia and Shoshana Friedman is the editor of Mishpacha.

Goldman concludes:

Friedman, who at 36 is the youngest of the editors I interviewed, said that being a woman editor who doesn’t run photos of women sometimes puts her in an uncomfortable position. “Every now and then, I get a letter from a reader who asks, ‘Why don’t you run pictures of women? I want my daughter to have role models in life. I want her to see that women can achieve great things.’ ”

Friedman added sadly: “For these women I don’t have a good answer.”

If Clinton is elected President, and the Haredi press does relax its no-women photo policies, It remains to be seen if only she, as Commander in Chief, will be given a special dispensation to be shown in photographs, or if a more liberal policy will be given to all women.  For example, if there is a photo of “President Hillary Clinton” beside German Chancellor Angela Merkel, will Merkel still be cropped out?  Or maybe the Haredi newspapers will alter their policies based on the woman’s religion – choosing not to publish photos of Jewish women, but conceding to publish photos (or partial photos) of non-Jewish women?  For example, if Hillary Clinton is standing beside Ayelet Shaked, Tzipi Livni, or Miri Regev the Jewish politicians would be cut out, but Clinton would remain in some form?  Would a policy like this continue to preserve the modesty and sanctity of the bas Yisroel?

It will be interesting to see what creative solutions they come up with – or which publications might abandon their no-female policies all together, following the lead of the historical Yiddish newspaper, Der Tog, which was published between 1914-1971, and became the first Yiddish newspaper to include female journalists on the editorial staff.

Wikipedia says:

Adella Kean-Sametkin wrote about women’s issues, and Dr. Ida Badanes, about health matters; the popular fiction writer Sarah B. Smith was also a regular contributor over many years.[15] Before making her mark as a poet, Anna Margolin (pseudonym of Rosa Lebensboym) distinguished herself as a reporter and editor for Der Tog, contributing a column, “In der froyen velt” (In the women’s world), under her actual name, and articles about women’s issues under various pseudonyms, including Clara Levin.

Often accompanying stories written by women were photographs of women.  The blog, From the Vault, said,

One page from a May 1952 edition of Der tog that has been cut out in its entirety—“In der velt fun froyen” (“In the World of Women”), a section for female readers, formerly edited by the well-known Yiddish poet Anna Margolin—is studded with photographs of international beauties in the latest bathing costumes and eveningwear. At the bottom is a society snapshot: “a khasene in holivud” (“a wedding in Hollywood”), with the actors Ronald Reagan and Nancy Davis “vinshen zikh mazl-tov” (wishing each other mazl-tov) following their wedding ceremony. (Note that the editors misidentify the couple: it is the Reagans in the center and William Holden with wife Brenda Marshall on the outside, not the other way around.)

hillary5From the Vault also shares another photo of the newly elected “Mame fun der velt” (Mother of the World), Chilean First Lady Rosa Markmann (right), on a visit to the just-completed headquarters of the United Nations from that same 1952 issue:

hillary6As a humorous aside, the headline near the photo is “an article by one Sarah Koenig (a past incarnation of today’s NPR broadcaster, alike in name and journalistic rigor?) headlined “Fete froyen zaynen oft gliklekher in leben” (“Fat Women Are Often Happier in Life”). The piece contains such surprising evidence as “Fete froyen zaynen oykh mer religyez geshtimt un hoben lib tsu geyn in shul davnen” (“Fat women are also more religiously inclined and enjoy going to shul to daven”) and “Di statistik hot bavizn, az tsvishen fete menshen bikhlal zenen faran mer gut hartsige, vi tsvishn dine menshen” (“Statistics have shown that among fat people generally, there are more goodhearted people than among those who are thin”), a claim that the writer juxtaposes to the assertion that overweight people’s higher blood pressure necessitates their having a calmer disposition. The piece ends by comforting the reader with the assertion that though the number of plump women is great among Jews, the proportion of overweight Italian women is greater, and anyway, “Iz do zehr fil froyen vos di diklikhkayt past zey, un fete froyen kenen zayn sheyn un reytsnd” (“There are many women whose stoutness suits them, and fat women can be beautiful and alluring”).

My understanding is that Der Tog is the great-grandfather publication of the modern day Alegemeiner Journal.  Though it was founded by businessmen and intellectuals, and not a religious publication, the fact that it was in Yiddish and intended for Jewish audiences means that in the early 20th century, a time when there wasn’t a dearth of American Haredi newspapers being published, odds are the religious community made up a nice portion of its readership.  That probably came to an end in 1953 when laid off Der Tog editor, Dr. Aaron Rosmarin founded Der Yid, and hired a Satmar editor named Uriel Zimmer, which then established Der Yid as the religious and anti-Zionist alternative to Der Tog.

Will Hillary Clinton be the revolutionary figure to finally break past the no-women photograph barrier in Haredi publications?  Will she be a one-time anomaly, an exception to the rule, if her image does get published?  It remains to be seen, both literally and figuratively.

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19 thoughts on “Hillary Clinton has gone where no woman has gone before – the cover of Yated!

  1. Wonderful commentary Sharon. It would seem that if it weren’t for their needs for sex and reproduction they would prefer to crop women out of their whole lives. Go Hillary!

  2. Well, this is unacceptable! Her fingers are quite arousing and are stimulating me … to read the Wall Street Journal.

    Anyway, funny ….. I hope you’re feeling better, Sharon.

    >

  3. I’ve got it! Use the Saudi solution! Many years ago Queen Elizabeth visited Saudi Arabia and they solved the problem of the meeting of equal heads of state by making her an honorary man! There are pictures of them shaking hands. Of course, in Israeli papers they would crop the Queen out, making the King shaking hands with mid-air.
    Perhaps Israel could have an application to become an honorary man. I just hope they extend it beyond Hillary to the rest of us. 🙂

      • I don’t think many men want to become an honorary woman. How many men are buying Hillary’s Women’s Card?
        My first story is similar to the founding of the Protestant movement in Scotland (I used to teach Sunday School). John Knox, the founder preached that women were inferior to men.
        When he was told that Elizabeth I, was not happy about his statement, Knox hastily changed it to “All women are inferior to men except Queens”.
        Apparently men understand power over ideology 🙂

  4. Dear Sharon, thank you again for another thought-compelling post.

    What a conundrum! ‎How can the observant media hope to serve their readership and the greater community by ignoring major elected world leaders? To remove important statesmen (or stateswomen, if you will) from the pictorial/video history of humanity, not only misinforms their readership, but can colour major world events in a different light. For example, deleting German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s image from public vigils for victims of terror, or Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s image from war room discussions, belies their participation or responsibility in world events.  To be truthful, it brings up eerie comparisons of Stalinist measures in 1930’s Soviet Union, removing an undesired Trotsky (et al) from photos for political gain. Any of these measures, when taken, need to be carefully considered for motive and necessity. 

    How did the media deal with then Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir? Indian Prime Minister Indira Ghandi? Or British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher? Realistically, women who have risen to the ranks of major world leaders, through dint of sheer intellect, hard work and fierce perserverence, have always been quite long in the tooth by the time they have reached the pinnacle of public service in their respective countries. Matronly at least, or grandmotherly at best, they hardly represent a credible danger to the modesty and sanctity of  the Bas Yisroel – any man in danger of being lead astray by visions of ‎such bastions of statehood, in their uniforms of business suits, is in dire need of more prayer and should probably give up newspapers. 

    ‎It is highly unlikely that we the public will ever see pictures of a bikini clad British Prime Minister Theresa May, Prime Minister Angela Merkel, or President Hillary Clinton. The uniform of international heads of state is generally very conservative, and truthfully rarely deviates far from the standards of attire to be seen on observant women. Surely the time where women are routinely excised from view to further shelter sensitive observant men must come to an end? These men were born of women, married women, often fathered women, live in neighbourhoods with women, go to schul with women, do business with women, and often find themselves now governed by women. We were after all made by the same Creator, and do make up half the world’s population. 

    The children of Israel have always treasured knowledge and education, it has been critical to their survival. Should Hillary Clinton be elected by her people to become what amounts to the most powerful person on the planet, I expect the observant media will need to revisit this practice, or court the fate of being dismissed as silly and irrelevant, even eventually by the frum community. 

    • Thank you, Johanna, for a beautifully well-written and well-reasoned post.

      What did these publications do with Golda Meir? I’d have to ask whether the start of this extrahalachic nonsense postdates her term.

    • I think these newspapers represent the fantasy world they wish they lived in – one where men control everything, men are the leaders and innovators and doers. Women are nowhere to be seen because they play no role in shaping society except as breeding mares. That’s the dream, and their fantasies can come to life through their fictitious publications.

  5. I’ve carried out my own personal boycott of all these magazines since they refuse to show photos of women. It’s deplorable behavior, and disgraceful.

  6. S’alright? S’alright! (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SLHEPTfshCI)

    The notion that Yitzchok Frankfurter, of all people, is actually contemplating the issue is encouraging. Is it possible the Charedi world will back off this chumrah?

    Of course, Frankfurter’s “rethinking” might be restricted to strategies Ami will employ to avoid depicting Madame President should the situation arise.

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