Women's exclusion hits new low: Not one female doctor has been invited to speak in a conference on gynecology and halacha scheduled to take place next week. Only male doctors will speak in the meeting, including senior physicians, as organizers claim female doctors where shunned after rabbis prohibited their participation.
The conference is organized by the PUAH Institute, a fertility and medical center following halacha guidelines which provides guidance and counseling to couples with fertility problems. The institute operates in clinics across Israel and the world and holds courses and meetings for rabbis, physicians and the general public.
Throughout January the institute is holding its annual conference on gynecology and halacha, which is open to the general public. Dozens of rabbis and senior physicians are set to speak, however none of them female. The organizers even approached a few female doctors and asked them to recommend male doctors which might wish to speak in the conference.
Those invited were also informed that there will be a separation between men and women in the audience.
An online protest, especially on Facebook, has started up in recent days against the conference. One activist even managed to publish the emails of all of the lecturers set to speak in the event, in an attempt to convince them to cancel their participation.
A few doctors have already canceled their participation after learning about the women's exclusion
from the conference. According to them, such an act is outrageous and absurd, especially since the conference revolves around women's medicine. A red line has been crossed, they say.
Knesset Member Rachel Adatto
a women's physician herself, was invited to take part in the conference as a guest, but announced she will not attend. "The PUAH Institute prides itself on helping not only Orthodox couples but all couples in need of help," she explained.
"Out of 25 doctors and rabbis set to speak about gynecology and issues which are essentially female issues, there won't be even one female expert talking about the issue. I expect all doctors to avoid participating in this conference, which excludes women," Adatto stressed.
The PUAH Institute said in response: "Every year the institutes holds a convention on medical and halachic issues, including lectures from senior rabbis and professional reviews from the best physicians in their field. It's of great importance that rabbis and professionals from all sectors in the religious and haredi society come to the conference. Therefore, Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu has instructed to make the conference open to both men and women equally, but with separate seating, and for the lecturers to be male. This instruction was backed up by the biggest rabbis in the national-religious and haredi sector."
"Women will be seated directly in front of the lecturers just like the men, and the stage is located in the center. The women, just like the men, will be permitted to ask questions. In other conferences organized by the PUAH Institute female doctors and professionals also lecture."
Kobi Nachshon contributed to this report