web analytics
March 3, 2015 / 12 Adar , 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


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.

Current Top Story
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu addresses a joint session of the US Congress on March 3, 2015.
‘Alliance Between Israel & US Must Always Remain Above Politics’
Latest Indepth Stories
Red Line Obama

UN inspectors were flabbergasted when Iran allowed them full unfettered access to All nuclear sites

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu addressing Congress.

Obama’s real problem is that he knows Netanyahu has more credibility on the Iran issue than he does.

Silwan, in the eastern part of Jerusalem, founded by Yemenite Jews in 1881

Kristof’s op-ed “The Human Stain” was flawed and wrong; more than anti-Israel, it was anti-Semitic.

Hur and Aharon holding up Moshe's hands as Joshua battled Amalek.

“Remember what Amalek did to you on your journey after you left Egypt-how undeterred by fear of G-d”

Stalin’s plan for the Soviet’s “final solution of the Jewish question” was totally assimilating them

Many Jews oppose the speech fearing it will further erode relations between Israel & US. I disagree.

The University of Georgia Student Government Association called for more investment in Israel.

Without an alliance comparable to ISIS, Al Qaida & Iran, militant Islam will conquer the Middle East

Ultimately, Esther, Netanyahu, and we, the Jewish people, must and will rely on the true King, God, for our salvation from this genocidal threat.

Netanyahu addresses a clear, present & lethal threat to the US/Israel/WORLD; NOT political bickering

Buried in the tax-returns of the JCF is millions of dollars funneled to NIF in the last few years.

Bibi’s speech to Congress will bring respect and honor to the Jewish Nation from the US & the world

Obama & Putin have handwriting/signature clues indicating differences between public & private life

It’s time for a new Jewish policy regarding Ramallah, NOT just because of the yarmulke incident

“GETT’s” being screened for Israeli Rabbinical Court judges at their annual convention.

If Jackson were alive he’d denounce Democratic party’s silence towards virulent anti-Semitism

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: