Fam­ily Day: A salute to won­der women

Jerusalem Post - - COMMENT & FEATURES - • By YONATAN SREDNI

There are cer­tain things I sim­ply don’t get very ex­cited about, like Fam­ily Day (Yom Hamish­pacha) which is ob­served this Thurs­day in Is­rael. Of course, it’s very nice that my work­place is let­ting all the em­ploy­ees leave early to go spend time with their spouses and chil­dren, but for me, as a sin­gle guy with­out kids, it’s just an­other day.

The same sort of ap­a­thy strikes me when I see gi­ant head­lines in the Is­raeli press about well-known Or­tho­dox rab­bis calling on yeshiva stu­dents not to en­list in the IDF if they are forced to serve in mixed-gen­der units. My army days are far be­hind me, so I don’t have a horse in that race ei­ther. Or so I thought. Although I can­not place my­self in the shoes of to­day’s young male sol­diers, I can iden­tify with a well-known fic­tional one: Steve Trevor.

If you saw last sum­mer’s cin­e­matic block­buster Won­der Woman, star­ring Is­rael’s very own Gal Gadot in the ti­tle role, you might re­call that our hero­ine has a male co-star, Cap­tain Steve Trevor. He is the Amer­i­can pilot she res­cues when his plane crashes off her is­land’s coast.

But Trevor doesn’t crash land on just any old is­land, he finds him­self on the hid­den is­land of The­myscira, home to the Ama­zo­nian war­rior women, in­clud­ing Diana, aka Won­der Woman. He is the first man to set foot on the is­land. In other words, it’s “no man’s land” – lit­er­ally!

As of Jan­uary 1, I started a new job: head of English con­tent at WIZO (Women’s In­ter­na­tional Zion­ist Or­ga­ni­za­tion) in Tel Aviv. Es­tab­lished in 1920, the or­ga­ni­za­tion is on the verge of cel­e­brat­ing its cen­ten­nial. While my job is cer­tainly in­ter­est­ing, what I find most in­trigu­ing is that the male-fe­male ra­tio at WIZO, as you might ex­pect, is heav­ily skewed.

“It’s the Rooney rule,” my brother joked when he called me a cou­ple of weeks ago to con­grat­u­late me on my new job. In the NFL, teams are re­quired to in­ter­view mi­nor­ity can­di­dates for head coach­ing and se­nior foot­ball op­er­a­tion jobs. The rule, named af­ter Dan Rooney, the for­mer Pitts­burgh Steel­ers owner and for­mer chair­man of the league’s di­ver­sity com­mit­tee, is seen by many as a type of af­fir­ma­tive ac­tion, though there is no quota or pref­er­ence given to mi­nori­ties in the hir­ing of can­di­dates. Ac­cord­ing to my brother, be­ing a male at WIZO (also known as a “MIZO”) puts me in a very dis­tinct mi­nor­ity.

While I can fully at­test to the fact that I was not of­fered my cur­rent job based on my gen­der, be­ing a man in a fe­male-dom­i­nated work­place has re­ally en­light­ened me.

Like a modern day Steve Trevor, I am in awe of the won­der women I am sur­rounded by and have the plea­sure to work with. They may not be war­riors in the lit­eral sense, but they fight ma­jor bat­tles daily, for the wel­fare of women, chil­dren, youth, and all sec­tors of Is­raeli so­ci­ety.

No of­fense to Gal Gadot, but these won­der women come in all ages, sizes, and from all back­grounds. From the chair­per­son of World WIZO, Prof. Rivka La­zovsky, and WIZO pres­i­dent Es­ther Mor, to all the won­der­ful WIZO women, both paid work­ers and vol­un­teers, work­ing for the wel­fare of Is­raelis in WIZO day care cen­ters, schools, par­ents’ homes and more, ev­ery­one fights very hard for what they be­lieve in.

As if that weren’t enough, a few weeks ago 100 won­der women from across the globe de­scended on WIZO’s Tel Aviv head­quar­ters for the an­nual MOR (Meet­ing of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives). From Aus­tria to Aus­tralia, from the US to South Africa, I saw first­hand how the rep­re­sen­ta­tives from WIZO’s fed­er­a­tions around the world all share the same fight­ing spirit.

But cer­tainly these won­der women must have some faults, right? They can’t all be su­per­heroes, can they?

Four year ago, when I was work­ing for Blonde 2.0, a PR com­pany in Tel Aviv, one of my first clients was a brash Is­raeli by the name of Itay Adam. He was a startup founder who was de­ter­mined to turn Is­rael’s startup work cul­ture on its head.

“Most star­tups hire 20-year-old kids who are will­ing to work day and night at the of­fice,” Adam told Forbes in an ar­ti­cle in 2014. “I don’t be­lieve in that. I’d much rather hire an older, more ex­pe­ri­enced em­ployee to work a reg­u­lar eight-hour workday and who will get more done in that time than an in­ex­pe­ri­enced 20-year-old kid would in week!”

He went on to cite the ex­am­ple of sin­gle moth­ers, ex­plain­ing how they come to work at 8 a.m. sharp, make their cup of cof­fee, sit at their work sta­tions and don’t get up un­til 3 p.m. when they have to leave to go pick up their kids. In those seven hours, they man­age to get more work done than most other em­ploy­ees sim­ply be­cause they need to be more ef­fi­cient with their time. Those are the types of work­ers Adam was look­ing for.

At the time, I thought Adam was all talk. I didn’t be­lieve that such a work model ex­isted be­cause back then I worked very long hours with young sin­gle peo­ple.

How­ever, I now work with many moms and sin­gle moms (which is also fit­ting be­cause “Fam­ily Day” in Is­rael used to be just known as “Mother’s Day”) . Some­how these won­der women man­age to get all their work done at the WIZO of­fice and still pick up their kids from school in the af­ter­noon. Yes, the pace at my new place of work is fast and in­tense, which is some­thing I have yet to get used to, but ev­ery­one gets more done in less time be­cause they sim­ply have to.

In an in­ter­view with Re­fin­ery 29, Gal Gadot said about her Won­der Woman char­ac­ter, “She’s fierce, she’s proac­tive, she be­lieves in her­self, she be­lieves she can do ev­ery­thing, and that’s a true woman to me.”

I can­not speak for all the rab­bis and yeshiva stu­dents out there, but I work with women – cor­rec­tion, I “serve” with many won­der women – and you don’t need to use a lasso of truth on me to get me to ad­mit I am a bet­ter man for it.

The writer is head of English con­tent at World WIZO in Tel Aviv.

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