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Women BANNED from university by Ultra-Orthodox Jewish sect

23rd August 2016

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Women have been banned from attending university by a New York-based Ultra-Orthodox Jewish sect, in case they acquire “dangerous” secular knowledge.

In a decree seen by The Independent, the Hasidic Satmar sect – which has followers around the world – has declared that “No girls attending our school are allowed to study and get a degree. It is dangerous. Girls who will not abide will be forced to leave our school.”

The decree, written in Yiddish, adds that “we will not give any jobs or teaching position in the school to girls who’ve been to college or have a degree.”

According to the sect, female higher education is “against the Torah” and the sect “will be very strict about this.”

The edict was seen exclusively by The Independent.

The Satmar follow an Ultra-Orthodox interpretation of Judaism, which features 19th Century dress, encourages extreme modesty, and requires women to cover their hair. It was founded in Transylvania in 1905, before moving its headquarters to New York after the Second World War.

The Satmar is the largest Hasidic sect in the world, and of the estimated 30,000 Ultra-Orthodox Jews in the UK it is the largest group.

The decree goes on to say that education for girls is “against the base upon which our Mosed was built” and “We have to keep our school safe and we can’t allow any secular influences in our holy environment.”

Speaking to The Independent, Dr Sharon Weiss-Greenberg, Executive Director of the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance, calls the sect “an isolationist enclave” and the decree “devastating”.

She says, “When one does not have access to education, career opportunities are out of reach. It forces one to stay within the community as everyone's personal lives are tied up with their professional lives as well.”

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