Israel is an extremely family oriented society and sees the family as its basic unit. This derives largely from Jewish tradition, but is reinforced by the geography of the conservative societies around the Mediterranean (Italy, Greece) and the Middle East. Another factor that has reinforced this is the consciousness of Israeli Jews that the Jewish State is demographically threatened and that one important task of the society is to decrease the demographic threat by having many children. At one point there was a government department that was responsible for the promotion of large families. In such a situation, it is clear that the idea of the Mother as the glue around which the family coalesces, will be a central ideal of the society. Women who do not accept that model are often seen as failing their natural role as a woman and their national role as an Israeli. Unmarried women will tend to feel great pressure to marry, and the traditional Jewish role will be correspondingly difficult to break away from.

Without getting into the rights and wrongs of the issue, objectively it can be said that for those who desire to break away from the traditional role of mother, it is more difficult in Israel than in many other societies. When talking about the experience of the chalutzot in the early workers settlement and kibbutzim, we mentioned that the issue of motherhood, however positively it might be seen, in and of itself, became a retarding factor for the women who wished to be involved in more productive labour. Similarly, it is possible to make the case that the associations of womanhood and motherhood and the attendant social pressures have had a similar effect within the society as whole.

Nevertheless, it should be repeated here that there has been a fair amount of social legislation that has attempted to make it easy for mothers to enter the work-place. Working mothers definitely have rights in Israel. Apart from the factors already mentioned, there is a large amount of quality daycare available.



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27 Apr 2015 / 8 Iyar 5775 0