Barbra Streisand expressed her strong opinions on women's rights in Israel when speaking at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. On her first visit to Israel since 1984, the prolific and talented performer accepted an honorary Ph.D from the university. When accepting her degree, she spoke about the inequality of Jewish religious practices amongst women and men. This topic was addressed in light of certain incidents where ultra-Orthodox Jewish men have attempted to restrict Jewish women's rights. Some have tried to stop women from sitting in the front of buses that run through their neighborhoods. Others don't want Jewish women wearing prayer shawls or carrying Torah scrolls after worshipping at the holiest site for prayer, the Western Wall. The latter is an ultra-Orthodox rule which is gradually becoming less common in certain areas. Jews who believe in this tradition fear that allowing women to hold these sacred items would weaken the men's authority. OH NO! ANYTHING BUT THAT.
"It's distressing to read about women in Israel being forced to sit in the back of the bus," Streisand said, "or when we hear about 'Women of the Wall' having metal chairs thrown at them when they attempt to peacefully and legally pray."
Luckily Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni is in the process of passing a bill that prohibits forcible separation of women and men in public. In addition, courts are supporting women's right to wear prayer shawls and there is a proposal to create a mixed gender prayer section of the Western Wall.
Streisand applauds the Hebrew University of Jerusalem for its progressive accomplishments in regards to women. This year the school reached a record number of female Ph.D graduates, which is the first time ever that more women than men have received degrees. Streisand's long-time dedication to the university makes her a deserving Ph.D recipient. Officials called the degree "an opportunity to recognize her support, her friendship, her generosity." Keep on keeping on, Babs! There's no question that Israel needs more strong female figures like you getting up in their business!