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Mon Dec 31, 2012, 09:39 AM


When exclusion of women hits the basketball court

In a country where religious and secular children are divided into separate schools, sport should be a unifying experience. That's not what happened in my backyard.

By Allison Kaplan Sommer | Dec.31, 2012 | 3:21 PM

The troubling sexualization of little girls was symbolized last year by Na’ama Margolese in Beit Shemesh who was terrorized by Haredim protesting the "provocative" presence of her girls' elementary school near their neighborhood.

It was brought to the forefront in the "exclusion of women" debate, which was burning across Israel just a year ago, but faded over the course of 2012, when the lip service on the topic resulted in little real action to address it - and it has barely seen crossing the lips of politicians as an issue during this year’s election campaign.

But that doesn’t mean it is going away. Last week, a controversy appeared in my backyard, in Ra’anana, my hometown (as well as Naftali Bennett’s…) It happened on the basketball court of all places, at a game in a junior basketball league for fifth-graders.

Team sports for kids - especially soccer and basketball - is a big part of life in our neck of the suburbs, as it probably is in all of suburbia. The problem for Orthodox families is that the mainstream basketball league teams, even in Israel, hold both games and practices on Shabbat.


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