Miri Shalem Talks About Gender Discrimination in Israel

On Wednesday, February 29th 2012, we had the pleasure of hearing Miri Shalem speak to us about the challenges facing Israel today.

Miri Shalem, Organizer of Flashmob in Bet-Shemesh, Brings a Vibrant Perspective on Religious Life in Israel.

“We felt like we had power to change the world” proclaimed Miri Shalem to an attentive audience, who attentively listened to Miri speak.

Shalem, a resident of Bet Shemesh, organized a flash mob of 250 Jewish women of various backgrounds, to peacefully demonstrate against women’s segregation and inequality.  While she confessed she is not a professional dancer, she articulated her passion for using dance as a form of self- expression and community strength.

As the Director of the JCC in Bet Shemesh for the past 17 years, Miri has seen the city change before her eyes. A beautifully diverse town has become populated with a community of Haredim. This change led to a clash over culture and conduct. Miri felt passionate about the importance of keeping her community feeling alive throughout these changes, and created a dance night for women only.

When the story of eight year old Na’ama Margolese came to light, Miri’s passion peaked. Na’ama, who was spit on by ulta-Orthodox men on her way to school, grabbed the attention of the Jewish State, the world, and more specifically, of Miri.

Shalem felt dissatisfied that while there was so much talk about the situation, no action was taken to stop the violence against the female gender in the community. Using dance as her voice and social media as her guide, she brought together a choreographer, a videographer, a producer, and 250 local women for a public dance one Friday afternoon in January. The local women danced for a recorded 3 minutes, and spontaneously for about an hour following that.  “The women felt confident and empowered, and we couldn’t stop dancing…We didn’t care what people would say”, said a proud Miri.

With over 175,000 hits, the YouTube video of her flash mob to Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now” has truly left a mark on the world. As Miri articulated so beautifully over lunch, “Don’t stop us now…. No one will be able to stop us now or ever…”

This event was sponsored by the following:

American Zionist Movement

Bnai Brith International

Dorothy and Harold Greenwald Foundation

Hadassah – NY Region

Jewish Community Relations Council of New York

Jewish National Fund

Women’s League for Conservative Judaism

World Zionist Organization

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