Sunday, February 26, 2006

An interesting candidate to watch in the upcoming Israeli elections is Tzvia Greenfield.
She is special in many ways.

She is a 59-year old mother-of-five, has a doctorate in political philosophy, is number 6 on the Meretz list and follows an ultra-Orthodox, American lifestyle.
Especially the last created lots of noise in the ultra-Orthodox community.
Ultra-Orthodox journalists objected to Tzvia calling defining herself as ultra-Orthodox, since (gasp!) she has a dog.

It seems that therefore, she doesn’t answer the social definition of ultra-Orthodox. (Confused? So am I!)
According to ultra-Orthodox journalist Kobi Arieli, you cannot have a dog and not detest the political party Meretz and be ultra-Orthodox.
So much for peaceful coexistence.
Greenfield pointed out that there is many American-type ultra-Orthodox in Har Nof (the stronghold of the Shas Party).

They are highly educated and some even have a television in their homes, but they maintain a strictly ultra-Orthodox lifestyle, including the centrality of Torah study, a certain mode of dress, a certain order to their daily routine and the observance of Shabbat and Jewish Festivals in a particular style.
Sounds kosher to me….
They also hold her field of expertise against her.

Although born in Israel and graduated from a Beis Yaakov ultra-Orthodox girls seminar, she went on to study general history and philosophy at Hebrew University.
What’s wrong with that, you might ask? Well, it seems that the ultra-Orthodox community finds secular history and philosophy unacceptable and dangerous.
I don’t quite understand why; I always thought that broadening your mind is healthy and prevent prejudice, racism, anti-Semitism, and the like.

Greenfield has a sharp, analytical mind combined with (lucky for her) a nice sense of humor. That would be a great asset in the Knesset, I tell you!

So what are her viewpoints on the main issues of life?
First of all, she is a strong advocate of going to work and maintain a life of Torah and productivity.

She points out that the ultra-Orthodox society doesn’t understand that it is impossible to impose their value system on others.
As we non-ultra-Orthodox know, it doesn’t take much to be at the receiving end of their contempt and even wrath by not complying with their lifestyle.

There is another reason Greenfield advocates to join the workforce.
The Halpert Law (which was passed by all the non-Zionist, ultra-Orthodox and Arab Knesset members alike, with the support of the Likud), increases child allowances for the fifth and subsequent child to NIS 850 a month.
The money comes from the taxes paid by the (non-ultra-Orthodox) working population whose children serve in the Israel Defense Forces (ultra-Orthodox are exempt).
The law also reinforces the ultra-Orthodox tendency to turn ultra-Orthodox women, or children, into a source of income.
When the income of an ultra-Orthodox family is dependent on the number of its children, intense pressure is exerted on women, excluding the possibility of having fewer children.

Greenfield is also in favor of civil marriage and divorce for the same reason.

She points out that Israel is the only democracy in the world in which a large group of people cannot marry.
And it gets better. She also wants homosexuals and lesbians to have the same status as any other citizen, which includes the right to marry and the right to realize any desire and any life plan that does not harm others.
In that aspect, she is for sure more liberal and tolerant than many Israelis!

Her view on rabbis in Israel is even more surprising.

She points out that they don’t do the Jewish people much good and are inefficient leaders.
They prevent change in order to preserve their positions of power.
Anyone of us who ever had to deal with the rabbinate in Israel can unfortunately confirm this.

Tzvia Greenfield will make a great Member of Knesset in my book.
After all the scandals, she might be the candidate of moral fiber, intelligence, and humor that we sorely need in this country.

And when asked if she asked a rabbi for permission to run for the Knesset, she answered:

Of course not. There is no reason to do so. Why would it be important?
I can assure you that the Rambam did not ask a rabbi if he should be Salah a-Din's doctor. The problem is that the applicability of halakhic questions has expanded terribly and now includes all aspects of life.
The areas about which people ask questions have grown with no rhyme or reason.”

Friday, February 10, 2006

There is an Israeli fashion designer to watch.

You may never have heard of Michal Negrin, but she is slowly conquering the world with her "Israeli Victorian romance" fashion.
Negrin has developed her personal passion for kitsch into glittering and colorful pieces of jewelry that are popular with women all over the world.
Negrin's successful designs include jewelry, clothes, curtains and upholstery, as well as lamps and cushions –all in her trademark frilly style.

Negrin career is quite impressive.

She and her husband left Kibbutz Na'an 15 years ago and moved to Tel Aviv.
She opened a small stall in the Nahalat Binyamin pedestrian mall where she sold her own jewelry creations.
These pieces embroidered with lace and small colorful glass stones were a hit and Negrin was smart enough to develop her own style that also became her trademark: shameless kitsch adorned with floral designs, images of angels and drawings of elaborately made-up ladies.
It radiates Victorian boudoir romance.
Michal Negrin is currently running a small business empire of 39 stores from
Japan and Hong Kong to France and the United States.
Production is done in her Israeli factory in Bat Yom, where 150 immigrants from the CIS are employed.
Her fashion line includes jewelry, clothing, mezuzahs and bathroom upholstery as well as closet doorknobs.
She also produces special jewelry items for El Al, that can be purchase on board.
Kitsch doesn’t come cheaply – a simple
pendant will easily cost you $50.

Negrin’s designs are in high demand, riding the current fashion wave for elaborate necklaces, chandelier earrings and baroque jewelry.

Her high-profile customers include Britney Spears, Demi Moore, Nicole Kidman, Britney Spears, Alicia Keys, Kim Bassinger, Uma Thurman, Dustin Hoffman, Joni Mitchell, Celine Dion and Jane Seymour.

Negrin jewelry has also featured in Britney's music videos and in the latest movie of Catherine Zeta-Jones.

Fashions come and go, but although her designs are definitely not my taste, I sincerely wish that the Michal Negrin Designs Ltd. keeps on prospering and expending.