Friday, August 21, 2015

Congratulations, Nechama

Can these Charedi young women become airline pilots?
There are not too many Orthodox airline pilots. I don’t know any. I wonder if anyone does. But that is about to change. Not only will there be an Orthodox Jewish commercial airline pilot, but a Charedi one in Israel! That’s right you read that correctly. Charedi. 

How, one may ask, does a Charedi Jew become a pilot? Flying an airplane as a professional pilot is about the last thing any Charedi would ever dream of doing – considering their emphasis on full time Torah study. Where would they get the expertise? And how could they take off time from their full time Torah study to learn the trade, let alone get a job?

That’s easy. This type of person has no obligation to learn Torah full time, even according to the strictest interpretation of Halacha. Some are now even saying that they should be discouraged from studying Torah too deeply. How in heaven’s name is that possible? considering the importance placed on full time Torah study beyond any other endeavor?

The person in question is a woman by the name of Nechama.  Nechama is married with 3 children - and happens to be my son in law, Rabbi Micah Greenland’s cousin. Which makes this doubly exciting for me. It was his wife Rivkie, my daughter that pointed me to the YWN article that reported the story.

Imagine that. A Charedi woman that went through their educational system (Beis Yaakov) - becoming a commercial airline pilot. She is doing this with the full blessing of her husband and parents, who are also Charedi. I could not be more proud of this religious young woman having achieved such success and have no doubt that she will one day be a commercial airline pilot.

Fact is - I don’t see why Charedim would have any problem at all with this. After all, Charedi women in Israel do get a fairly decent secular education and are far better prepared than their male counterparts to enter the workforce. And they do. In all manner of job, profession, or career. The Charedi educational system is set up to prepare women for the workforce. Women are expected to help support their families. And they are educated in ways that help them do that.

When the time comes to get a job, they are better trained to do so - having learned study skills that prepare them for college or advanced courses in various professions. Including pilot training in this case. Pilots earn a decent living so I am sure that her future husband will be able to learn full time for as long as she remains employed as a pilot for El-Al, or any other airline that would hire here.

That no woman has ever become a pilot probably has more to do with the difficulty of anyone getting into that profession, than it does with the religiosity or sex of the applicant.

And while I am very happy to see such accomplishment, I think it says a lot about El-Al that they have no problem with qualified Charedim  of either sex working for them in that capacity. So much for secular bias against Charedim.

Congratulations to Nechama, to her husband, children, and parents. And especially to El-Al. This is a win/win for everyone.