Ultra-Orthodox rabbis ban women from going to university in case they get ‘dangerous’ secular knowledge
Exclusive: The decree seen by The Independent warns ‘We will be very strict about this. No girls attending our school are allowed to study and get a degree. It is dangerous. Girls who will not abide will be forced to leave our school’
Ultra-Orthodox Jewish rabbis have banned women from going to university, The Independent has learned.
The strict Satmar sect issued the decree, seen by The Independent, warning that university education for women is “dangerous”. Written in Yiddish, the decree warns: “It has lately become the new trend that girls and married women are pursuing degrees in special education. Some attend classes and others online. And so we’d like to their parents know that it is against the Torah.
“We will be very strict about this. No girls attending our school are allowed to study and get a degree. It is dangerous. Girls who will not abide will be forced to leave our school. Also, we will not give any jobs or teaching position in the school to girls who’ve been to college or have a degree.
"We have to keep our school and we can’t allow any secular influences in our holy environment. It is against the base upon which our Mosed was built.”
Ultra-Orthodox Jews follow a pre-enlightenment interpretation of traditional Judaism and discourage interaction with the modern or secular . Men wear 19th century Eastern European dress including long black coats and black hats, while married women must dress modestly and cover their hair.
The of Deputies of British Jews estimates that there are around 30,000 strictly Orthodox Jews living in the UK, of which Satmar is the largest sect.
Last year, it emerged that some ultra-Orthodox Jews in north had banned women from driving, citing concerns that it was immodest for them to do so.
It was condemned by Dr Sharon Weiss-Greenberg, Director of the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance, who told The Independent the decree would “force” people to stay in their communities. “The Satmar community chooses to live in an isolationist enclave. They believe that the secular elements of the world would tarnish the lives and beliefs of those who consider themselves to be religious.
“There are probably other factors at play, but, ultimately, the results are devastating. Because people from similar communities are not provided with a foundational primary education, they cannot pursue higher education nor careers. When one does not have access to education, career opportunities are out of reach. It forces one to stay within the community as everyone's personal lives are tied up with their professional lives as well.”