Orthodox Feminist Teacher Wins Appeal After School Tries to Fire Her

Lecturer with well-known feminist views to be transferred to teach at other institutions of higher learning.

The National Labor Court overturned a ruling Sunday that would have allowed a religious college to dismiss a lecturer whose courses were largely avoided by students due to her well-known feminist views. In an unusual move, the judge accepted a compromise agreement by which the lecturer, Dr. Chana Kehat, would be transferred to teach at other institutions of higher learning.

Dr. Chana Kehat, who will start teaching at other institutions.
Nir Kafri

Kehat first clashed with administrators at Orot Israel College of Education, in the West Bank settlement of Elkana, over five years ago.

In May, Jerusalem Labor Court rejected her request that it file an injunction against her dismissal. The college based its case for firing her on the fact that low student registration for her courses was costing it money. Kehat, however, maintained that high-level college administrators had discouraged students from taking her classes due to her feminist activism and views.

Kehat is one of the most prominent feminist activists in the religious community. Last month the Weizmann Institute of Science awarded her an honorary doctorate.

In the appeal, Kehat's attorney wrote that her client's "one and only offense is that she dared to sound a feminist call within the religious Zionist community, and to fight for women who had suffered rape and sexual harassment. Worse, she had the gall to succeed in her efforts."

Sunday's ruling will allow Kehat to transfer to Givat Washington, a religious youth village near Yavneh, and Kibbutzim College in Tel Aviv. In return, Kehat agreed to withdraw the defamation suit she had filed against Orot Israel.

The president of Givat Washington, Dr. Aviezer Weiss, praised Kehat's "high academic standards" and noted the positive feedback her students had provided. "We therefore agreed to the Education Ministry's request to bring her aboard, according to the agreement reached in court," he said.