web analytics
October 21, 2014 / 27 Tishri, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Meir Panim with Soldiers 5774 Roundup: Year of Relief and Service for Israel’s Needy

Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.



Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

The Back Of The Bus


Clearly, the people behind Israel’s mehadrin bus routes have trouble distinguishing between separation and subjugation. In New York, an Orthodox bus line seats men on one side of the aisle and women on the other, with a mechitzah down the middle. While one might disagree with the rationale behind the separation, at least the manner in which it is carried out does not offend the dignity of female passengers. Seating women in the back, however, sends the message that women are second-class citizens. It is the very antithesis of chivalry. And certainly not the Judaism I know.

Second, the haredi public’s zeal for separate seating has overtaken the duty of menschlechkeit. Segregating men and women in public accommodations is at most a geder or chumra, a safeguard designed to protect the sexes from potential halachic violations. It is no sin for a man to sit next to a woman on a bus. Those who advocate separate seating must recognize this in order to avoid actual violations of halacha in the name of chumra. To embarrass another person in public is a sin so great that our Sages taught that one who does so loses his share in the World to Come. How then can anyone see fit to humiliate a woman simply to get her to change her seat?

Moreover, deliberate touching between the sexes is forbidden. So how can it be justified to put a hand to a woman for the sole purpose of ejecting her from her seat? There is another way. Whether a bus is designated to have separate seating or not, any man who wishes not to sit next to a woman can take another seat, or, if there is none, he can stand.

To be sure, some anti-religious women may relish the chance to provoke haredi sensibilities by purposely taking a seat in the section reserved for men. Whether such women are viewed as villains or heroes should be irrelevant to how their intended targets react to the provocation. As observant Jews, we are charged with honoring Hashem’s name at every opportunity and, conversely, avoiding any desecration of His name. With those stakes, there is little margin for error.

And yet the media are replete with examples of attacks on perceived troublemakers in the name of protecting Torah. Consider the reports of clothing stores in Jerusalem and Bnei Brak being burned down for the crime of selling immodest clothing. Or the riots in Boro Park last year in which yeshiva students set a police car on fire after an Orthodox man was arrested for a traffic infraction.

Sadly, such actions prove the anti-religious camp’s central accusation: Those who wear their piety on their sleeves do not always have God in their hearts.

As for haredi women, several have been quoted in the news in support of the mehadrin bus routes. I suspect the majority of their peers would line up the same way. But the lack of internecine protest does not make the segregated bus practices any less unjust. If anything, it reflects the fact that these women live in a community where they are used to taking a back seat to the men.

Once, on a visit to Israel, a friend and I decided to attend a Simchat Beit Hashoeva (chol hamoed Sukkot celebration) at a synagogue in an ultra-Orthodox neighborhood in Jerusalem. The streets were teeming with men, women, and children rejoicing in the festive night. Inside the building, hundreds of men in full black regalia thronged the sanctuary in song and dance. My friend and I followed the masses of women making their way up the staircase. What I saw at the top will haunt me forever: In a dark, stifling room, women angled to peer through the small, slitted windows on the single wall that looked down into the sanctuary below. Only a few could reach the peepholes at a time.

The scene reminded me of a cattle car, a comparison I do not make lightly. This was not separation of the sexes; it was subjugation of women, utter indifference to their presence. Perhaps the bus segregation practices do not rise to this level, but it is a difference of degree rather than kind.

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “The Back Of The Bus”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Steve Emerson, author, journalist and terrorism expert.
Haaretz Smears American Terrorism Expert with Political Hit Job
Latest Indepth Stories
Map of Syria-Turkish border area, pinpointing Kurdish border town of Kobani, just taken by ISIS terror forces Oct 7, 2014.

Turkey and Iran the 2 regional powers surrounding the ISIS conflict gain from a partial ISIS victory

The Rosenstrasse area of Berlin, where Jewish husbands of non-Jewish German wives were held.

Emigration from Israel is at an all-time low, far lower than immigration to Israel from Europe.

NY rally against Met Opera's 'Death of Klinghoffer' opera. Sept. 22, 2014.

Leon Klinghoffer’s daughters: “‘Klinghoffer’ is justified as ‘a work of art’…This is an outrage.”

Guess who's behind the door?

Do you seriously think that as you kidnap our children we should medically treat and help yours?

Sometimes collective action against the heinous acts of the majority is not enough. The world should not only support the blockade of Gaza; it must enforce the dismantling of Hamas.

The Arab Spring has challenged Jordan with the task of gradual reform with regard to its monarchy.

Israel offered Syria the entire Golan Heights, only to find that the Syrians were demanding MORE!

Israeli hasbara too can be described at best as pathetic, at worst non existent.

A ‘good news’ story from the Nepal avalanche disaster to warm your heart. Take out your Kleenex.

Journalists see the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as morality play: Israel=evil; Palestine=innocent

Warsaw Ghetto: At its height, the Nazis walled in some 500,000 Jews within the1.3 square mile area.

While police officers face dangers every day on the job, Jews also face danger in their daily lives.

Carter developed a fondness for Arafat believing “they were both ordained to be peacemakers by God”

If Hamas is ISIS, the world asks, why didn’t Israel destroy it given justification and opportunity?

That key is the disarming of Hamas and the demilitarization of Gaza – as the U.S., EU, and others agreed to in principle at the end of Operation Protective Edge.

We have no doubt there are those who deeply desire to present themselves as being of a gender that is not consistent with their anatomy, and we take no joy in the pain and embarrassment they suffer.

More Articles from Ziona Greenwald

Numbers permeate our culture,not advanced mathematics but snapshot stats that provoke snap judgments

Lions-Gate-062014

The Lion’s Gate takes us from the dawn of the state in 1948, through intervening battles, to the lead-up to June 1967, and finally through the harrowing six days of fighting.

Even a foxhole Yid has to admit that antisemitism is on the upswing.

Geller, a mother of five who made aliyah from Monsey last year, offers a glimpse – with lots of photos – into her busy family life.

If the eyes are the window to the soul, then children’s eyes are the window to the Almighty Himself.

It is ten o’clock in the morning. I am at a local park with my daughter. A number of children are climbing and sliding, imbibing the fresh air. In their orbit are a smaller number of women, some milling around on foot, others sitting on the benches conversing and minding strollers. Trailing my own child, I play a silent game: Who is a Mommy? Which, if any, of these women (who range from lovingly attentive to disturbingly disengaged) are the children’s mothers, and which are babysitters?

We asked several experienced mechanchim for their insights on how to shepherd children from their first “Modeh Ani” to the understanding that Hashem alone holds the key to every aspect of their existence. Here are the key principles they shared.

When the disproportion of terrorist acts committed by Muslims – and the resulting hordes cheering the carnage on the Arab street – lead clear-minded observers to conclude that jihadism is the dominant strain in the Islamic world, we are accused of painting with an unfairly broad brush, discounting the silent (and invisible) majority of Muslims who oppose violence and crave peace.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/the-back-of-the-bus/2007/02/14/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: