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January 28, 2015 / 8 Shevat, 5775
 
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Attacked By Haredim On A Bus To The Kotel


It never crossed my mind that I would be inviting a beating by refusing to move to the back of the bus. The most I expected were some heated verbal exchanges. I honestly did not believe frum men would beat up a woman on a public non-Mehadrin bus over the seating arrangement.

The beating was bad enough. The fact that nobody came to my assistance was just as shameful. Equally disdainful were those who voiced support for those engaged in the assault.

It’s almost a year since the incident took place. There’s been much time to reflect, to weigh the opinions and comments of others, to explore solutions to this type of “holy” perversion in our community. Many websites have discussed this phenomenon.

Some have spoken out at great risk to their personal and professional reputations within their own communities. These brave voices need to be given our support. They need us to stick our necks out as well and say “Enough!” Most important, we need to educate ourselves and our children and become more secure in our Torah values.

It has been brought to my attention that the arbitrary decision by the #2 bus riders to make the line Mehadrin – to strengthen the level of tznius by implementing a separate seating arrangement – came about as a response to a horrific bombing on that line several years earlier.

Increasing our shmira in mitzvah observance in the wake of tragedy is commendable to the highest degree. But I would like to ask the men who go about beating up women on buses: Do the bruises and humiliation you inflict on others, and the dishonor you bring to our Torah and our people, increase your ruchnius and the ruchnius of those around you or does it diminish it?

If you are convinced your cause has merit, why didn’t you follow the course of due process available to you – namely, petition Egged to designate the #2 bus as Mehadrin? This is not a futile endeavor, as Egged has reviewed every such request and granted almost all of them.

Let me tell you what you have accomplished with your total disregard of halacha, Torah, and dina malchusa dina: Because of your actions, five women have petitioned the High Court to have all Mehadrin buses suspended. The hearing is scheduled for next month. Most likely, because of your actions Egged will not be legally permitted to offer Mehadrin lines. This means the private bus lines will return, catering to your request for separate seating arrangements. That’s fine for everyone – except Egged, of course, whose revenues will certainly be dented by these entrepreneurs. Talk about biting the hand that feeds you.

To those who beat up the woman in Beit Shemesh two weeks ago and the ones who assaulted me last November, or who engage in any kind of violence: The chumras you take upon yourself should not be used to dominate and control others. It would be better for you to forgo your chumras and correct that which is within.

As for haredi Jews, it is high time for us to collectively say in a loud and clear voice, “Enough Is Enough!” That means standing up to the bullies who shame Hashem’s name by committing violence – and, equally as important, assisting those who are injured by their criminal actions.

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When I publicly disclosed the beating I received on the #2 bus going to the Kotel last November, it was after consulting with daas Torah and lots of soul searching. I did not relish the black eye this would inevitably give haredi Jews, and I was uncomfortable associating my name with such a grievous event.

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