Curators: Emily D. Bilski and Nurit Jacobs-Yinon
Participating Artists: Andi LaVine Arnovitz | Niv Ben-David | Meital Botton | Nechama Goldman | Nurit Jacobs-Yinon | Dinat Zisner Katz | Mili Katz | Kobi Levi | Mira Maylor | Yair Medina | Ayelet Ofarim | Elad Peretz
In 2019, we celebrate the centenary of the battle for women’s suffrage in Israel. In November 1917, the women of the Yishuv (the Jewish community in the Land of Israel) began their fight for the right to participate in the political process: to vote and also to run as candidates for membership in the National Committee that represented the Yishuv vis-à-vis the British Mandate. Due to strong opposition from the ultra-Orthodox communities—epitomized by rulings of Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Kook—women only received equal voting rights in January 1926. When the State of Israel was created in 1948, the question of enfranchising women had been settled. Yet today there are still political parties that refuse to field women candidates, and the number of women parliamentarians and party leaders remains small. The story of the struggle for women’s voting rights in Israel has been largely forgotten. This exhibition honors the suffragists and surveys women’s political participation, with artists employing a variety of media and approaches. The collaborative works—videos and installations, among them a symbolic voting booth—incorporate images derived from historical texts and photographs. These include portraits of the women who have served in the Knesset, photographs of the original suffragists, and images of pashkivilim (public posters) from 1920 that argued for and against women’s suffrage. Aspects of this debate also appear in a video of religious feminist philosopher Prof. Tamar Ross teaching Rabbi Kook’s 1919 ruling that women could neither vote nor run for office. The impact of this hundred-year history is expressed in a number of exhibited works: sculptures featuring female heads fashioned from glass, witty and surreal shoe designs, and hand-cut paper silhouettes of the patriarchs accompanied by invisible matriarchs. Here artists evoke femininity and power, as well as the frustrations and aspirations of women’s ongoing struggle for equality. Hebrew Suffragists: 100 Years was curated by Emily D. Bilski and Nurit Jacobs-Yinon. The exhibition’s executive producer was Nurit Jacobs-Yinon, with text written by Emily D. Bilski. Prof. Margalit Shilo and Dr. Naama Teitlbaum-Karrie acted as academic advisors. Works by Kobi Levi from the exhibition In Her Shoes at the Rishon LeZion Museum. Finally, generous support was provided by Emunah – National Religious Women’s Organization..
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