1, 2, 3, 4, we won't take it any more!One of the little controversies getting a lot of press in Israel lately is segregated bus lines. No, they don’t make the Ethiopians sit separately. Increasingly, Egged bus lines which serve a number of predominately Haredi neighborhoods are allowing the passengers to separate the sexes by having men sit in the front and women sit in the back. These buses are designated “kosher”, but religious authorities declined to answer how exactly they are cooked.

While there is no Halacha to the best of my knowledge that says women can’t sit next to, opposite, or in front of men on a bus, Egged, Israel’s public bus line has nonetheless acquiesced to the vocal (and male) members of the communities.

You may have heard about the now infamous case of Miriam Shear, a 50 year old religious American immigrant to Israel, who was brutally beaten on November 24 for refusing to move to the back of the bus, on a line that was not even officially designated as “mehadrin.” Read the account in her own words here.

Other women have reported being threatened, harassed and intimidated for exercising their right to sit where they want. They are public buses, after all.

Well, say the women, enough is enough. According to YNet, a group of women, “among them haredi author Naomi Ragen, will file a petition with Israel’s High Court, claiming that such segregation is illegal and humiliating. “We’re sick of sitting in the back of haredi buses. We prefer to sit up front,” they wrote.”

While I respect the Haredi population’s right to live by the motto of the Offspring song “you’ve gotta keep em separated” the execution of these bus lines was poorly, poorly done. Public buses should not be used. You want “kosher” bus lines, start your own private company which caters to your population. Additionally, the buses were poorly identified, (women report not always knowing if they were getting on to a segregated bus or not) and enforcement of this so called rule was at the hands fellow bus passengers.

I’m really hoping the petition effects real change, and hoping, perhaps in vain, that all the negative publicity Haredim have been under will wake a few rabbis and leaders up to the need for emphasizing proper behavior towards women.

About the author

Laya Millman


  • A few salient points:

    1. Egged is, in fact, a private company.

    2. Haredim make up a very large segment of Egged’s clientele – they are much less likely than most other Israelis to own a car.

    So when you say “start your own bus company” – sort of throwing things upon the free market – basically, the current situation is itself the result of free market forces.

  • BD – On all three of your points:

    Does that make it right?

  • BD – Egged may be privately owned, but it is, in fact, the country’s public bus line.

  • Additionally, the complaints I am listening to are not from secular people who complain about anything frum, but from the religious women that have no other choice but to ride these “mahadrin line” buses, given the neighborhoods they live in.

    They complain mothers with children having to stand in the back while seats are empty in the front, of morning sickness nausea being exacerbated by having to sit in the back, of humiliation, intimidation and violence.

    I mean, honestly, does this seem alright to you?

  • no Laya, it is an another example of religious extremism that is insane.

    I do hope the women are successful. I am not optimistic bec. this is one area that they are very big on, the ultra frum, this idea that they are all crystal clear and pure, but it is the woman, no matter how unsexily she is dressed and acts, she is the one who causes them to sin.

    This is a sickness that unfortunately is here to stay.

  • every time i consider moving back to religious observance, i always hear something like this which reminds me why i don’t want to have anything in common with these people. people always say “jewish men are righteous and good” but even the most mannerless gentile men would vacate their seat to a woman with children who have no place to sit.

  • Ephraim:

    Saying that Egged is a private company is like saying that Amtrak Railways in the US is private. Dan & Egged have a de-facto government sanctioned joint-monopoly over bus services.

    Just because the service is performed by a private company, does not mean that they are operating in an open, free market with other private companies. They are more-or-less government contractors.

  • BD – this from the egged website:

    “Egged, the leading public transport operator in Israel, is one of the largest public transport companies in the world …”

    But anyways, even if it was privately held, I don’t agree it would make it right. I really hope the women are succesful, and if the men don’t like it, they can use Moniot Sherut. There’ll be plenty of drivers jumping on this opportunity.

  • Can a woman drive a “kosher” bus? Or have we turned into Saudi Arab and only men can?

    In Bnei Brak there are streets where one sidewalk is for men and the other for women… but this is not an original idea, it was copied from pre-war Kabul!

  • The men should all stand if even one woman or child needs a seat. But I sympathise with the desire not to be jammed in with strangers of the opposite sex. I generally pick the empty seat next to a fellow woman if there is one, especially on a long ride.

    So do you. So do you. So do you.

    Not all men are totally pure. I will explain when you’re older. Being allowed to avoid them is not a punishment. It can be a convenience.

  • JM, i am sorry but you are making a big mistake of looking at the wrapper and not what is inside. The ultra dress code and behavior modes does not mean a darn thing, in terms of Judaism.

    You can’t explain away an institutional second class citizen oppression which takes many forms.

    And what is the alternative? there may not be one, but that does not excuse real sinning.

  • If haredi dress guaranteed virtue, the haredim would not care who spends a long bus ride jammed in with who.

    They know as well as you do that it does not! That’s the reason for the separation!

    You concede there are no obvious alternatives. Thank you for your honesty.

    There are wives who LIKE knowing their husbands cannot be chatting up a woman on his daily long bus rides. That is a lot of time on the bus, in close quarters with an endless flow of strangers, not all of them ugly.

    People like to protect their marriages, in both directions. Both men and women.

    Would it be mean to say that very, very few of you out there are married, so that is why you don’t understand? You have nothing to lose. You like meeting new people. What’s the problem, you wonder. Well, it is a problem, when people have signed on for life, and there are children.

    These people’s descendants will still be arguing with your descendants about this in two hundred years. I mean, if you have any descendants. The proof of the pudding is the eating. Is you way of life working?

    Excuse me. I have to go get some kleenex. I have just burst into tears.

  • well I do have an alternative.

    But in any case, there are other factors at play as to why one is not faithful so to speak, and I personally do not think that I want to live in a society that so marginalizes one group or another.

    Why not have the Burhak then?

    Isn’t that much better, no facial contact, no bedroom eyes to look at?

  • We are us, we are not them, the brkha people, G-d forbid. We only need a little bit of separation, not a fifteen-foot concrete wall.

    As for “other factors”, well, so what. When there is a family and kids at stake, it is not time to say “all is fair in the psychology wars”.

    The women you are referring to are not necessarily in need of your knight-errantry. My money is on them. If they weren’t happy they would say so, and make it stick.

    We have a balance. I hope we all achieve a balance, and have something to balance about.

  • At least one good thing will come from it… the Reform Jews and the Secular Folks and the ultra Orthos are all working together… that is good yes?

  • Haredim, Taliban, what’s the difference? Taliban beat women for not covering their faces, and haredim for sitting in the front of a bus. Seems like the same thing to me.

  • Joshua, here are some differences between the Haredim and the Taliban:

    with the Haredim, women:
    go anywhere they want without a male relative, can see and hear because their eyes and ears are not covered, don’t have chopped up private parts, don’t have to share their husbands with other wives, don’t have to have sex any time their husbands want it, can divorce their husbands under certain conditions, may marry again after a divorce.

    All right. You are not a woman. If you were, which kind would you prefer to be?

    Please don’t say, tall, thin, well paid and sterile. I am having a hard time as it is.

  • JM, there is no Jewish tradition for the separate seating on buses. There is for formal prayers in a public synagogue.

    Of course the women involved have been indoctrinated to see themselves as evil troublemakers, I know this having spoken to young women who were learning at aish and Diaspora Yeshiva. They were told that they
    cause men to sin and so forth.

    SO you can imagine what the real Yeshivas teach them.

    It is still de-humanizing even if the victims do not feel it as such.

    My point is, that the man has to stop blaming others for his what he percieves as bad character.

    And where does it stop, if a Chareidi man has gay thoughts, then he should not be placed next to a handsome man?

    As if there are not huge horrific such sinful problems already in the Charedi camp.
    Our point is they should stop w/ the holier than thou crap already.

  • To all those huffing about my first comment – I am not defending the bus-segregators.

    I am pointing out the practical/strategic angles of the situation.

    As we all know, protests led by Naomi Ragen and various other American Ortho women will NOT be interpreted by the Haredi world as internal dissent – such protest will just lead to further circling of the wagons by the haredi community.

    In fact, haredi women have completely acquiesced to the mehadrin bus policy. And if we can be truly multicultural here – such a policy probably doesn’t have the same connotations of oppressive segregation that is has for American Orthos.

    From that perspective, there is more than a little truth to the haredi opinion that the protesters are playing into the hands of the ultra-secular, giving them another club with which to beat the religious Jews.

    Bottom, bottom line: there is no authentic objection to this policy from within the haredi community – not even from those SLUTS who wear designer wigs, eye makeup, and knitted tops!

    And Egged was responding to free-market customer demand. The Anglo-Orthodox protesting the policy are simply not as significant a demographic as the haredim.

    Sorry to burst people’s ballooning self-righteous huffery – but there are limits to the ability to liberate women who don’t seem to want to be liberated.

    And the larger issue of mounting extremism will take a generation to work itself out, as the angry young men and desperate old men fueling the extremism come to terms with a new reality (no welfare state, unavoidable need for secular education and/or army service – leading to a loosening of some Rabbi’s absolute power, which until now was based on their ability to hand out financial goodies).

    None of that will be solved by marching beside Naomi Ragen holding a cardboard sign – however uffishly progressive such action may make one feel.

  • Hear hear.

    How do you know it’s “acquiesced”?

    Maybe, using what some here seem to consider their pea-sized, brainwashed, slave mentality brains, these women think it is a good way to organize a bus? Their husbands daughters and sons are taking the same bus. Maybe they know something.

    I repeat, every man under sixty-five should stand if a woman or a child needs a seat. If that is an issue, Egged should run more buses.

    How are we going to have an argument if you folks refuse to produce any participants?

    Go ahead, find a way to blame your infertility on the Charedim. Did they steal your mascara? Your best heels? Did they keep you locked in a tower with only your long hair to have your friend climb up by? Did they tell you not to get serious until you finished graduate school?

    The Torah way of life survived Medieval Europe where it was not exactly the beneficiary of a welfare state, so I am not worried. Of if I am, it’s about you, not them.

  • JM, I think you are jumping to extremes here. If women aren’t forced to sit at the back of the bus there will be legions of fatherless children running around?

    I’m married, and I do have children, but I certainly don’t agree with your take in this sentence:
    “People like to protect their marriages, in both directions. Both men and women.”

    That kind of paranoia absolutely destroys the trust and respect that a good marriage is supposed to be built on. If I had to tie my husband up in the garage in order to stop him from straying, believe me, it wouldn’t be a marriage worth having.

  • “Anya, a large number of Jewish men would give up a seat. This story is about a very specific group…”

    really i know that, i was just venting my disgust. most jewish men aren’t religious at all and couldn’t care less if they happened to accidentally see a woman’s uncovered elbow or (gd forbid!) touch a strange woman on the finger. traditional judaism loves to pay lip service to women about how holy they are while at the same time excluding them from any positions scholarship or esteem. i’m glad i left the synagogue behind and i’m glad i’ll never have to hear my sons thanking gd for not making them women, ever. instead they will be thanking gd for GIVING them women to be their wives, mothers, sisters, and friends.

  • anya: I’m pretty religious, certainly compared to the norm, and I always give up my seat. In fact most of the time I don’t sit down because i will inevitably give up the seat to someone who needs it more. Please don’t make generalizations – yes, I always say “sheh lo assani isha” but it doesn’t mean I don’t whole heartedly thank god for all the great women in my life. Religion does not inevitably result in misogyny.

    Oh and Ben-David? Very interesting points.

  • Anya, my private opinion is that “thank you for not making me a woman” is to counter the attitude that some, only a few, men may sometimes have, that women have it easy. So, G-d reminds them to like what they are.

    If full-blast Judaism is not your cup of tea you could still light candles and be done. I mean, we are us. We are not Eskimos. We have to be ourselves, in a visible way, and candle-light is pretty, and flattering.

    My rebbetzin gives divrei Torah in front of everybody, is respected by everybody, especially her husband, and seems to be scholarly.

  • Lisoosh, post 26, Not everybody has the luxury of deciding whether their marriage is worth having or not.

    I am glad you are so happy you don’t even know the weaknesses of people. Bless you and stay happy forever.

  • Additionally, Anya, I’m also pretty religious compared to the norm as are the majority of my friends. I can say with reasonable confidence that any of my male friends would give up a seat to anyone who looked like they could benefit from it more.

    It’s just not all black and white. It’s not like all religious people are bad and all secular people are good, virtuous and enlightened.

    Are there problems within religious Judaism? Sure. But that’s no reason to throw out the baby with the bath water.

    Ben David – you are right that you can’t liberate women who don’t want to be liberated. However, does that mean you can you enforce the subjugation of those who do want the liberation and the equality to sit in the front of the bus?

    What’s the fair solution here? Perhaps making sure that “mahadrin” buses are marked as such, and also providing regular, mixed bus service to religious neighborhoods, so that people can make an informed decision about how they want to ride?

  • This whole issue is kitniyot all over again: a way in which some people can invent ways to appear holier than everyone else and thus increase their status.

    The problem with kitniyot-type actions is that they keep increasing, from a ban on eating grain that was kept in flour sacks to a ban on hummus at the seder. Since the connection to actual halacha is slim, the net catching “incorrect behaviour” can be cast ever wider.

  • Laya asked:
    What’s the fair solution here?
    – – – – – – – – – – –
    … which is the wrong question to ask, although it’s the one you’re PC education has trained you to ask.

    The mehadrin bus issue touches on several trends and movements (which are themselves interrelated):

    1. The ongoing cultural war between secular and religious in Israel.

    2. The re-absorption of the haredim into general society, as their insular culture breaks down.

    3. The sisyphean attempt to establish and guarantee basic civil rights for Israeli citizens, and reform the system of government here.

    So you pick your fights – asking the better question: what is the best action to forward my long-term interests in these important areas?

    (Note that this is not the same as asking “what will flatter my self-perception and make me feel righteous/progressive”)

    The mehadrin bus policy *is* a valid response to consumer demand – whether or not you agree with it, whether or not it would be defensible in some future Israel with clearly established civil rights. And if we’re honest with ourselves, the protests are Anglo-driven because we assign previous cultural baggage to this specific scenario.

    It would have been better to focus on Egged – to sue their pants off for letting that poor woman be so savagely attacked, without stopping the perpetrator or calling the police.

    Such action would force Egged to rationalize the mehadrin bus policy. It would also underscore the need to push back against the thuggery that is filling the void left by a paralyzed/disinterested governing class.

    Without lending itself to misinterpretation by the haredim as an attack upon them by “Zionists”.

    Of course, the protesters would have to surrender some of their self-righteousness, and pass up the notion of themselves as heroes stooping to liberate poor dears who can’t think for themselves.

  • Sigh. Ben-David, by brother, my fellow Jew, I ask you this with all sincerity – could you please stop with the condescending language? It’s tiresome and myself and others would greatly appreciate it.

    ok – now, I hear what you are saying, and a lot of this movement is anglo-led, but that doesnt mean that the American Haredi women are not speaking for a segment of the Israeli Haredi population who does not like it, but would not speak up, due to societal differences.

    I don’t think it is just the connotation of American segregation, although that’s certainly part. It is also the fact that women stand in a crowded rear of the bus, while there are empty seats up front. It’s the fact that when you have morning sickness (and remember, these women are pregnant pretty often), your nausea is exacerbated by sitting in the back. It’s the fact that in certain neighborhoods women who do not want to sit in the back have no other choice.

    The mehadrin bus policy is a valid response to consumer demand, true. But now we are realizing that there are some serious flaws in the way it’s been implemented, and it just does not work for certain members of the population.

    Now, rather that dissect the reason I ask what might be better solution, why don’t you actually take a look at what I suggested and see if you agree or not.

  • JM – Tad patronizing, no? If someone disagrees with you, they must not understand, their personal experience must be lacking, they never faced a challange.

    Just a gentle reminder – Judaism stresses personal responsibility. G-d gave us the Law and we are responsible for keeping it. When you assume that people aren’t capable, when you protect them from the challange of maintaining that level of responsibility, you cheapen and lessen everything.

  • Lisoosh – I appreciate your response. I didn’t mean to sound patronizing. I meant everything I said in a very simple and literal way.

    Continuing to re-evaluate, in an ongoing way, whether a marriage should be stayed in, is indeed a luxury. I am old enough to remember when nobody had that luxury. You were married, you were married. Divorce was only possible under extreme conditions. Both socially and financially, it was possible the way jumping out of a window is possible -when the building is in flames, but not otherwise.

    Well, that’s how it still is in these traditional communities. They are not crazy, they just stuck their calendars in the 1950’s, which is my decade, so I know. (That is NOT the seventh century CE. The NINETEEN fifties.)

    You are right about personal responsibility! No, hiding under the bed is not a mitzvah, and prevents doing any mitzvot. But: you are not understanding that these people have not been coarsened and desensitized, and they like it that way.

    I do not think it is any coincidence that men and women kept apart a bit, but not totally, marry and have children.

    I do not think it is any coincidence that men and women who have been brainwashed to regard each other as pretty interchangeable, as just fellow cool folks, with a lot of contact, and no mystery allowed – total familiarity, visual, personal, tactile, – do not have children.

    They have been robbed of their excitability, and nothing happens.

    Well, why shouldn’t they keep their old ways. It is the marriage culture. It does seem to produce stability and a future. Not total, perfect stability, but some, and, let’s not underestimate this, future arguers.

    This bus thing has the potential of destroying it. Really. Over time. I have lived a lot of decades, and I can see the slow operation of social changes. Dripping water really does wear away a stone. I have seen this with my own eyes, and I do not think Jews, no matter how modern, should mount direct, and hate-filled, attacks on the older way.

    Darlings. It’s parricide. Don’t do it.

    I am extremely literal-minded, and I just mean what I say. I never patronize anybody.

    I KNOW that in the nineteen-fifties men and women sat together on buses. Yeah. Look what happened. After the nineteen fifties came the nineteen sixties. All you need is love. Right.

    See what happened?

    Oh by the way, how are your dear grandchildren? Have any new pictures? Have you carefully and realistically examined the probability of your ever having any?

  • (Liroosh, that last fling was at the others. You sound as if you will indeed have grandchildren, may it be.)

  • just saw this and I must absolutely condemn the practice of seperate areas on public transportation. If you cant handle the ladies, take a bike.

  • JM – you misunderstand me. I don’t care if the Haredi want to voluntarily separate the sexes, as Ben David notes, can’t save those who don’t want to save themselves. I also don’t care if Egged offers separated buses, as long as they are an OPTION, are clearly marked, and generate enough business to pay for themselves – I’m all for choice. Of course, if it is making many women ill, perhaps it is the men who should be sitting in the rear.
    I do however have a problem with ENFORCED separation, especially for those who don’t want it, and I don’t view it as degrading women so much as degrading men. It infantilizes them and assumes they are incapable of personal responsibility. It is equivalent to baby proofing a house full of teenagers.

    And no, I don’t favor divorce,. However defending enforced segregation of the sexes assumes that a marriage has no foundation of trust, that you are not dealing with two responsible adults.

  • Laya –
    I definitely agree with you and lisoosh that Egged should now implement basic things like identifying the mehadrin buses, and offering non-mehadrin buses on as many routes as practical. It would be a logistical nightmare to guarantee that nobody would ever have to take a mehadrin bus, but that should be the ideal.

    That is not the goal of the current protests, which are focused on the goal of “teaching the haredim a lesson” – and whose most lasting effect will probably be increased haredi distrust of…. well, everybody.

    As in many such situations, there is a bitterly ironic parallel here: both sides are thoroughly convinced that they have G-d and Right on their side.

    That’s what motivated the haredi asshole that hit that woman, isn’t it – a desperate, furious need to prove himself right at a time when his community and lifestyle are increasingly undermined and untenable.

    And equally full of themselves, the protesters are blundering into the worst possible response for those who care about the final outcome – successful re-integration of the haredim. Their protest boils down to another round of “we know better than you backwards Ultra-Orthodox” – and will be lumped together with other, more egregious anti-religious jibes.

    Talk about generating more smoke than light!

    Like they say in Hebrew: it’s better sometimes to be clever than right. Even if you are right.

  • And equally full of themselves, the protesters…

    I hear that you are equating the self-righteousness of each side, but just as you describe a post where (among others) a haredi author criticizes other members of her community as

    another round of “we know better than you… Ultra-Orthodox”,

    when it’s at least partially internal,

    similarly, it’s hard for me to read your comment without thinking you are equating beating a woman (by men) with lodging a protest, sans beatings (by women).

  • As to Haredim women going anywhere they want without a male relative…I’m pretty sure a learned a yichud halaka someone there said that an women should not walk alone and must be accompanied by at least two other women…or did I make that up?

    But yeah, Burka/Tichel over a wig…same thing.

  • This is absurd. Mehadrin has to do with the food we eat, and the kind of menorah we use for the mitzvah of chanukah lights.

    Mehadrin has nothing to do with establishing defacto public separation of the sexes on buses.

  • Ben David: “And equally full of themselves, the protesters are blundering into the worst possible response for those who care about the final outcome – successful re-integration of the haredim.”

    Ben David – What kind of re-integration are we talking about? Some, whom you call ultra-secular, would consider nothing but a dissemination of the haredi way of life as a successful integration. Perhaps that’s why the haredi who hit the woman felt so threatened.

    I guess that compared to the audience here, I am pretty secular, but in the eyes of my friends (the so called ultra-secular), I am very tolerant to the religious movements.

    Still, there is something fundamental here that bothers me. You seem to shift the focus to dealing with Egged (“to sue their pants off”), and getting the segregation job done right, as opposed to dealing with source of the problem. An mentioned in a few comments, you, and others, consider the issue itself as a “valid response to consumer demand”.

    Well, I don’t think that the demand is valid. I also don’t think that it is legitimate to resort to violence, or as you put it, “thuggery that is filling the void left by a paralyzed/disinterested governing class”.

    This is the core issue that any secular person in Israel would raise if asked. Any dialog towards successful integration between the various groups must start with this strong assumption: you can’t take the law to your own hands if you don’t like what the governing class is doing. When the haredim violate this assumption, they immediately lose any moral ground (as perceived by the secular folks) and their arguments become very weak.

    I am not saying that I know a way to bridge this gap, or to solve the issue with the buses. However, I think that your view, and dissent of the ultra-seculars in general, is too skewed.

  • Lirot Tov:

    I’m not equating violent attack with peaceful protest – in fact, I am not looking to award any Good Housekeeping Seal of Victimhood, unlike many here who are deeply indoctrinated in such approaches.

    I am equating one group unthinkingly acting on its sense of self-righteous umbrage with another group that is unthinkingly acting on ITS sense of self-righteous umbrage.

    The haredi thug that beat up that poor woman is long gone – thanks to the insensitivity-stupidity-confusion-fear of the Egged driver.

    So now what?

    Unlike the Egged driver or the victim – the protesters had the luxury of time – time to step back and plan their actions and their slogans.

    They have chosen a path that may flatter themselves, but will not push the major issues of contemporary Israel in the direction they themselves, upon reflection, probably desire.

  • Yoni:

    Re-read what I actually wrote – nothing I wrote can be construed as legitimizing the thuggery that IS filling the voids in Israeli society.

    You are reading what you want to see – because it’s clear from your other comments that you really aren’t such a moderate, and that you are fitting this issue into the same template of “those primitive, thuggish haredim” as your suppossedly less understanding hiloni friends.

    And like most left/liberals, you blithely edit not only my words, but reality itself, to fit your ideological template.

    Thus the starting assumption is that the mehadrin policy is obviously wrong, and obviously not a response to public demand – both of which are not at all that obvious… or was Egged somehow bewitched by the haredim into instituting this policy?

    And you easily smear the entire haredi population for the actions of one frustated, hot-headed young man – quickly conflating your own moral certainty about “segregation” with one incident to create a mythical Fifth Column of haredim who are taking the law into their hands.

    … and like most “ultra secular” left/liberals, you immediately posit that ANY accommodation of religious Jews is a challenge to the authority of the “Government” – a body conspicuous in this story by its absence as a player. But that’s OK, we know that this is just code for the secular opinion, imposed with heavy-handed thuggery by unelected oligarchs in the media and court system.

    Which are the cause of the social paralysis that leaves the field open to thugs of all types… and invites violent opposition by those who feel disenfranchised.

    You left out the part where you compare them to the Taliban – and the old saw about how they stole your country from you (“ganvu li et ha-medina”).

    If you’re the moderate fellow in the middle –

    1. God Help Us!

    2. There’s another, equally muddled Middle on this blog – have you two met?

  • Ben David, I did read what you wrote, and I know that you don’t legitimize the thuggery. I was also impressed by comment #33, because it implied that you see the big picture in Israel very clearly, and I think that is a good thing.

    You wrote just now: “it’s clear from your other comments that you really aren’t such a moderate”. Excuse me, but I don’t vehemently use language that indicates extremism. My only other comment in this page, prior to my last address to you, is comment #9. I don’t see how that comment is more extreme than, say, comments #38 or #40 (my apologies to the jewlicious folks for the comparison).

    In this disagreement between haredim and seculars, there is plenty of room for many opinions. I was trying to point out that, in my opinion, your opinion is very much skewed towards one of the extremes. I also tried to point out the main issue in my mind – that I think the public demand from the haredim for segregation is in itself not valid.
    (you misquoted me on that. I didn’t say that what Egged does is not a response to a public demand)

    It is clear from your reply to me that you are highly resistant to anything that smells as modern/leftist/secular. I’d rather not respond and go on that route. This is supposed to be a place of fruitful discussion, not the plain old “I’m right and you are wrong” arguments in which the participants don’t even bother to listen to each other.

  • Yoni –
    I am not “highly resistant to anything that smells as modern/leftist/secular.”

    I AM highly resistant to attempts by modern, leftist, secular Israelis to (continue to) project the inevitability of their own opinions. We’ve suffered through 50 years of socialist hegemony in which most manifestations of Judaism were denigrated.

    When I write that I’m interested in moving Israel towards a more transparent, representative democracy with basic rights anchored in law – I’m talking about getting the secular hegemony off our collective necks/backs.

    When I read posts like yours that dismiss out of hand the validity of Egged catering to a significant consumer demographic ; posts that refuse to consider that there may be other value scales that input into the Israeli public’s determination of whether the mehadrin policy is “segregation” or not ; posts that easily ostracise/demonize entire groups of Israelis – when I read stuff like that, I hear yet another attempt by unreconstructed lefties to project and impose their values on the religious/traditional majority. Once more using the dodge of The Rule of Law to slap down the Jewish values held by The Rest Of Us (who in this case ride the buses a lot more than the hilonim, apparrently…)

    Thanks for the compliment – I do try to see things clearly. But given that the situation already has a surfeit of self-righteous umbrage, I invite you to check your own opinions for any residue of left-liberal condescension.

  • Yoni, Muffti is glad B-D does that ‘you vaguely seem like a lefty hence here are the views you hold’ trick on you too! He thought B-D just had it in for Muffti!

  • Ramon,

    True that Boteach is much too intelligent to waste his time being JM.

    But whoever he/she is, they follow the Aish talking points to the letter. That is NOT a compliment —some of those points are so lame I want to hurl my cholent, especially the one they use on young women the most: that only Orthodox will have children or Jewish grandchildren. It even scared me into marrying the first frum guy that asked.
    Thanks for the tip off, but I try not to visit that site.

  • “Intelligent”? Boteach? maybe you know more… I’ve only read one article (which was disturbing and repellent) and saw one picture (with Michael Jackson).

    And from Chutzpah’s and others’ bitterness about Aish HaT, sounds like they’ve provided some disturbing experiences as well. I’ve only read the web site, and I enjoy the columns on how to behave towards coworkers, family members, dates. Voting-wise I’m more in the R. Waskow community, but their website grows ever so slowly!

    I find Jewish Mother’s comments very intelligent actually, even though of course I don’t share all the same views. (c.f. Waskow, egalitarianism, etc… I’m far enough left I was unsure whether the Muffti would even sit through a (very literal, ahem!) cup of tea with me!)

    (and Chutzpah, I learn a lot from your comments as well!)

    Since I doubt I’ll have my kitchen anywhere close to what would be okay for JM or ck (for instance) in the next few years, it’s great to be able to drop by the virtual salon and hear from people who are speaking (and listening) in earnest.

  • Yeah,we have fun here at Jewlicious.

    Actually Boteach is very highly intelligent and very nice and has published many books. I don’t agree with many of his opinions, but he thinks on a level most people can’t.

    I am not bitter against Aish. Providing basic Jewish education is not a bad thing. It’s just that some of their deeper positions/arguements/rationalizations are extremist and have no basis in reality. Lots of what Jewish Mother/Big Aish says is a very beautiful fantasty. But it’s got many flaws and reminds me of delicious Swiss cheese sliced paper thin with lots of holes in it.

  • “But whoever he/she is, they follow the Aish talking points to the letter.”

    Chutzpah, my compliments are not directed at Liba Pearson’s talking points but at how her eloquence resembles our Jewish Mother’s. I think we all can agree on the beauty of JM’s way of turning words. I simply found Liba Pearson’s prose to be an imitation of JM’s. Maybe a pale imitation. The compliment here is actually reversed from what you were thinking – it was directed at Jewish Mother. Liba comes close but JM is the banana.

  • Muffti wrote:
    Yoni, Muffti is glad B-D does that ‘you vaguely seem like a lefty hence here are the views you hold’ trick on you too! He thought B-D just had it in for Muffti!
    – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    … I just want you to be happy, dahlink.

    And married.

    And since Yoni lives here, he probably cannot fall back on Muffti’s techniques for wriggling out of attempts to pin down exactly what his opinions are.

  • Thank you Ramon Marcos.

    I read your link and I found Liba Pearson too sweet for my taste. She is NOT a mother, she says that in her article. I steer away from the “mother-as-G-d like” thing. Too much, already. It is NORMAL to be a mother! You don’t need to be saintly. Anybody walking down the street can do it, and has.

    Boteach does not interest me. He may be great, for all I know. I am not putting him down.

    One does not owe one’s mother any more than what she in turn owes her own mother.

    These debts are always paid downward, not to the giver, but to the next generation, as Liba Pearson did say.

  • Posts 38 and 40, but what about the no-touching thing? There are people who take that very seriously. You can’t sit next to somebody on a bus and not touch them at all, at all. Not unless you are both model scrawny, and most of us are not.

    I am not talking about any stupid simple-minded eroticism of an unintended brush. It’s not “Oy! Her foot clonked mine! I’m so interested!” No, I am talking about the niddah commandments. Maybe they should scrap that, to make the liberals happy? But the liberals will never be happy. Not until the whole haredi thing is over and done. (But they are so TOLERANT, remember. Right.)

    The eroticism angle was much more about the chance to meet, socialize and make new friends.

    Maybe they could keep the separation, and put the men in the back. Would you guys accept that? Probably not.

    The American woman who is making a point of this does not live there. You can’t vote out of your district. She may be dati, but she doesn’t live there. She sure doesn’t sound married, either, no mention of that. So what would she know?

    When in Rome. Or Jerusalem. She’s a colonialist, a cultural imperialist. It’s a big world. She can find a community that suits her, or start one, but she has no call to try to change an existing one.

    Unless she has a Joan of Arc complex (very common, in both sexes), or wants to become interesting and make a career out of that. For the money. Lots of people have now heard of her who never had occasion to, before, as a writer.

  • JM: you said:

    “[Naomi Ragen] wants to become interesting and make a career out of that. For the money. Lots of people have now heard of her who never had occasion to, before, as a writer.”

    First of all, do you really think no one has ever heard of Naomi Ragen?? She’s a prolific writer, one that anyone interested in the Ultra-Orthodox world should read. She has sold millions of books, wrote hundreds of columns and done several other things…

    …like not being afraid and standing for women’s rights in a patriarcal world!

    It’s funny: when I googled “Naomi Ragen”, when of the first pages that appeared was a lovely article in Arutz Sheva… whose first comment was a disgusting insult by (you guessed) JEWISH MOTHER!

    Please, check this out so we may understand a little better:


    Ah, y Naomi Ragen has lived in Jerusalem for over 35 years… so she is IN the district and she CAN voice her opinion!

  • Uh, Gabriel? The “Jewish Mother” on Arutz Sheva who commented in such an offensive matter is not our Jewish Mother. Our Jewish Mother is in the US and this one is in Israel. Also, our Jewish Mother simply does not write that way. Just wanted you to know.

  • JM it would in fact be fairer if there was a rotation, month per month. What we want to do away w. is not Charidisim, but the BS, the bullying, the distortion of Judasim.

    WHere is the refinement of character, in that community? oh it exists, but the images we see, the masses, I dislike.

    You have for example, in Parshat Shoftim,
    a man knocked down a tree and inadvertantly his friend got killed from it.

    Inadverant, accidental, he walks, correct?

    No, he got sent away. Because of the cavalier attitude towards that tree.

    So where is this refinement ?

    U still seem to be mistaking the wrapping.

    U can learn Torah w/out being Charidi, and you can not only learn, but act upon what you learn. This is more important than wearing the black hat and the wigs.

    As far as Shomer Negiah, if it is an inadvertant touch it does not apply.

    What we object to, is this institutionalization of new rules that are bogus, and not only that they are not really effective, they are a veneer that covers the real problems in that community, and thus does not help them solve the problems that they do have such as the sexual preditors, the pedophiles, this has been very well documented, I am not even mentioning the whole Kollel system where people don’t work and are not cut out to be Rabbis,etc., the finanicals shenanigans and other Torah violations. These problems are ignored while they make up new rules.

    IN fact, imo, there would be less such violations if the opposite sexes did mingle a bit like what is natural and normal.

  • I did not know she was a well-known writer and activist, or that she has lived in Jerusalem for 35 years. Thank you for telling me.


    She cannot be described as protesting from within the Haredi community – even if she has an apartment right in the middle of it. She’s not one of them, though dati.

    Where did you get the ruling that inadvertent touching during niddah doesn’t count? No way.

    This community has preserved the old way, which while unfair in some ways, worked. It puts about half the population, with some exceptions, in escrow for people-production, to make sure that happens. The people who don’t do this – the Jews who leave this essential social function to chance – do not have a replacement birthrate.

    If someone tells me that Naomi Ragen has no children, I am going to become seriously concerned and even irritated with her busybodiness. Jealousy can take some weird forms. Dog in manger?

    The commentator with the same nic wasn’t me; I haven’t read the link; the world is full of “Jewish Mothers” thank G-d and my only schtick is there should be more of them.

  • Why are you not delighting in life? I don’t mean Life, I just mean life. Am Israel Chai, right? Will you tell me what is more important than Jewish child production? Who CARES where people sit on the bus?

    Religious-bashing is cowardly, because they are supposed to be to hooooly to fight back. And if they do, it’s “aha! You’re failing your mission to be hooooly, so I don’t have to! Bad, bad!” Let’s see you bash the armed, muscular IDF, if you’re so brave. They have problems, too. But that might not be healthy.

    As this is a Jewish web site, not a neo-nazi web site, can we please chill the “they are all sexual preditors, pedophiles, parasites and engaging in finanicals shenanigans” thing. Every community has a few nut cases, including the secular, and every community has problems. At least they will have a community in a hundred years. Will you?

  • Sure we will, what are you so worried about. You always go back to the babies. For your info, I have some myself. More than I should have had based on financial considerations.

    Anyways my dear, they are the ones behaving violently gratuitously, not me.

    N. Ragen, Of course she is one of them. Read her books. SHe depicts the Charedi centers of Brooklyn, Israel, and Europe, like no one else can. THey’re not much her books, but as a novel they read well.
    Oh because she works she is not one of them. ? JM, you seriously should get out and explore this world you defend more.

    any library would have them, check on Ebay, or Amazon.

  • and do please stop putting words in my mouth I noticed that ‘they are all’ i never said ‘they’ are ‘all’.

    don;t lose it now please.

  • You implied hard those evils weren’t just rare exceptions.

    So she has been selling tickets to a side-show? That’s her job? Her career? From the outside? She wasn’t born Haredi, from what I gather. Is that exploitative? This lawsuit is far too convenient a cap to a long career of activism and writing about them, from what you say.

    The fact remains that they are living their way, and not cutting up their girls. What the reason for her unhealthy, fascinated disgust? She seems to want in, and not to want in, to the Haredi.

    She has no right to shred a community she is not a daughter of.

    Heck, she would have no right to shred a community she WAS a daughter of.

    It’s a big world. She can live another way.

    But it seems to me she has found a living in all this.

    I am not an expert on her, and I have never read her.

    I am sorry for people who have personal issues and religious issues. Everybody should have a nice day.

    But I do think we need communities where Judaism is lived high-strength, even though that is not the only way, and does not necessarily work for everybody.

    I am so glad you have a fine family. But the fact remains that we do indeed have a birthrate problem, a big one, except in those weird, icky, medieval prison camps called Orthodox areas. Well, I am going to wait for insiders to complain before I am interested.

  • Jm, you can do a search on her and get all the info, but I beleive she became a BT in her high school years, and after a short time in Israel, decided that you know, as a true BT, that there is no other place for her. I believe she lives in a very Chareidi area of Jerusalem called Sanhedria.

    If you would read some of her books, you would obviously be more informed as to her affiliations. In your local library I am sure that you can locate such a book.

    It is silly to nitpick like this over someone who has been in this lifestyle for over 30 years as to what her motives are.

    Many of us have simply pointed out that you speak of a highly romaticized vision of this community that is unfortunately not exactly our experience.

    Hopefully, you will not suffer any personal injurious exepriences as many of us have, and continue to promote your healthy cultural, social, adjenda and your healthy optimisim!

  • Highly romanticized vision indeed, and with a hidden double standard. JM, in this vision you omit the fact that those haredim are often intolerant to anything different than them (that would be me, the evil, having-no-morals, not-so-tolerant liberal secular guy).

    I’m sorry, but I don’t buy it. You complain about the generalization of the haredi community that is expressed in comments here. But please don’t forget that the level of tolerance, or lack thereof, between the two groups, is symmetric.

    (regarding generalization, there is a difference between generalizing one person’s actions over the community and generalizing the values mirrored by those actions over the community. I haven’t read of a single rabbi in Jerusalem that condemned the hitting of that woman. I’ll be happy if someone here proves me wrong)

    I lived in Toronto for the last 8 years, just until recently. It has a very large Jewish community (I think 5th largest in North America, after NY, LA, Miami and Chicago), with all the kinds of Jewish groups that you can imagine. I rode the buses there, and I did see Haredim on the bus, and they may even stayed standing instead of sitting next to a woman. And guess what? There were no riots, no beatings, no mess at all.
    So what is the difference between them and the communities in Jerusalem? I don’t know, and I am not knowledgeable enough to even take a guess. However, one thing I am sure of – the Haredi community that we are talking about in this story, in Jerusalem, does not hold the high moral ground, as you imply, and it doesn’t fit this romanticized vision. There are reasons why they are bashed for not being so hoooly, as you put it. and yes, I also bash the IDF on plenty occasions.

    B-D, you are very much correct to point out that many hilonim fail to consider that there may be other legitimate value scales other than there own. It hurts me too; but I have to tell you the same thing that I just told JM – it is symmetric. In my opinion, the same claim applies to the haredim in Jerusalem who are the focus of this story. Can you honestly tell me that there is no residue of condescension amongst them as well?

    As a side note, I find it astonishing that the words that you directed at me in comment #51, are literally the same words that the secular community here directs towards the haredim (sorry, but I don’t want to give a specific example of that).

  • Thank you. I investigated her. My feeling somehow has not changed.

    She has had a lot of success and is not the newby I thought.

    Even SHE feels guilty about some of what she has written.

    Her case is sad. It shows the pain of being BT and expecting of it more than it has to give. It can’t make you a native-born because that’s not the truth about you. It cannot even give you a pure holy city, to even look at wistfully, through the fence, as an outsider. It just gives you G-d and the tradition to study and live. We BT’s are still in the world, not Gan Eden and life is not perfect and no system is without problems because people are people.

    I appreciate your discussion; I learned some things.

  • Thank you, JM, for so openly addressing a point of contention. I’m not sure everyone is aware that it’s possible–as you demonstrated–to maintain a different view without sweeping a difficult question (like, how are these four women outsiders?) under the rug to do so.

    Laya, if you’re looking– your cooking line was spLEndid, thank you!!

    After all the hard feelings (whoops, I’ll pay for that…) my puzzlement about women instead of men in the back probably should be swept under the rug, but the arrangement seems to guarantee an optimal ogling view for the men who are seated, since all the women have to walk past. Splitting down the middle would provide less of this, and women in front, least of all.

  • No, the women enter the bus from a back door. They don’t walk past the men.

    Naomi Ragen is religious and studied extensively, religiously, but she lives in a religiously mixed neighborhood, NEAR the Haredi area. She does not live right in it. I got that from an objective-sounding article, linked to her own web site.

    There is nothing terrible about that, but she cannot be described as a disaffected Haredi woman.

    The initial news reports mentioned that she sat in the men’s area at least two previous times, on different days, and was confronted only VERBALLY, before eventually encountering a physical confrontation. The word probably got around the Haredi neighborhood, as this is very unusual, and feelings may have run high, and the next time, the third time, she was confronted with more than words.

    My take on that is that she would have sat or tried to sit in the men’s area a hundred times, until she got more than words, because getting more than words is the only pathway to a news story and a lawsuit. Newspapers do not write: “Woman spoken to in a very nasty and unpleasant way on bus, harangued to go to the women’s area, five times in one week, a real annoyance. Back to you, ta ta”

    I hate to use the phrase “she asked for it” but once, just this once, it happens to be true. It has to be. She wants this practice of separate seating ended, and she wants widespread secular or liberal community support for a legal effort in that direction. You don’t get that by having snotty remarks made to you or even yelling.

    You can’t sue people for yelling at you, no matter how loud or how often.

    Of course she could have just brought a class action suit on the principle of the thing, but how much drama would that have had? Yawn.

    Although she was already a successful writer and well known to some, even many, there is no denying that these carryings-on have widened her circle of fame. To me. I have now heard of her. It worked with me. Probably others too.

    Someone I knew once said, “there’s a lot of money in disillusionment”.

    It’s not about the bus. She wants a Haredi-free world. So do some others apparently. That’s eliminationist, and does not go terribly well with love your fellow, or tikkun olam.

  • Yoni, you can loathe the Haredi all day, and simply not hang out with them, but there is no call to think, “I cannot share the earth, or Israel, with these loathesome people. They must be got rid of.”

    That’s not allowed.

    When they try to make you think their way, it’s an assault on your culture.

    When the decide that’s hopeless, and mind their own business, it’s isolation, insularity and indifference. So they can’t win with you, they do wrong either way.

    They feel passionately that the Torah way is the way, and they want a community where that is the way. Where they can live it and not have their standards of modesty offended every minute. That is a disgusting experience, leads to family break-up, and on top of that, touching is against their rules.

    Can you spare them a few square blocks?

    They have their own money. Oh right, they have too much. Or, they have too little and parasite off everybody else. Can’t win again.

    No, they don’t think you are living right. Well, the Lubavitch have open arms for you and no judgement at all. If you find the whole thing silly or irrelevant, have a good laugh at them, and find a Haredi-free environment.

    But that’s not your thing. Their mere existence gives you hives. You seek them, to confront them.

    It is YOU who are assigning them some kind of moral high ground. You CARE what they think. Otherwise you would be bored and cold, not annoyed and hot.

    Well, shalom alechem, yid. You care because you ARE of them, in a fundamental way. There are a lot of ways to be a Jew. Find yours and leave them alone. If Naomi Ragen’s life is any model, you may go to the right some day. She is BT too. Like lots of us. Anyway, peace. Shalom. Like that.

  • My take on that is that she would have sat or tried to sit in the men’s area a hundred times, until she got more than words. . . .
    I hate to use the phrase “she asked for it” but once, just this once, it happens to be true. It has to be. She wants this practice of separate seating ended, and she wants widespread secular or liberal community support for a legal effort in that direction.

    Just good old-fashioned, seat-of-the-pants common sense. If only everybody weren’t so intimidated by political correctness!!

    Rosa Parks: you figure that was her first trip downtown? Hah! And all those blacks at the Woolworth’s; you think they were there for the tuna melt and an egg cream? Believe me, Bubbala, they didn’t just want a cup of hot cocoa, they were looking for trouble. They probably went there 50 times driving people crazy with all their mishegoss, until they finally found that big sheriff walking his German Shepherd. Some people think the world is made of rainbows and butterflies and unicorns. But trust me; they’re them and we’re us. Was it really so terrible for those white people to keep just a few toilets for themselves? It’s the liberals who talk about TOLERANCE, but they had to zhalave the white people a few toilets of their own, where they can have a nice, peaceful bowel movement of their own?

    And that Schwerner and Goodman buried in a ditch in Mississippi; you think they were there to make latkes for Hanukkah? Or to pick up some of those famous confederate kippot? What, they couldn’t stay home and vote in Brooklyn? It was their business to go to Mississippi to tell the KKK who could vote there? Nu, what did they expect, a ticker tape parade? They didn’t know they’ve been whipping schvatzers for hundreds of years? Sure, brotherhood sounds all warm and fuzzy, but good fences make good neighbors. Trust me. You’ll see when you get older.

    And don’t get me started on that Central Park jogger!! Jogging? And for what? So she could have perfect thighs? So she could show all the men in her office, “See, I’m one tough cookie, and no pushover!” Better she should have been making a kugel for her husband. And what do you figure she was wearing that night in Central Park; a tweed overcoat? Of course, she didn’t actually put on a sign saying, “Pease rape me and beat my brains in with a rock.” But you can bet she wasn’t baking a challah and saying kiddush with those wild animals in Central Park.

  • Rosa Parks was certainly staging a planned Action and she was right, and it was so successful you don’t remember the conditions that prompted it. That is a tribute to her and all her allies.

    The Central Park jogger was not very prudent but she had no agenda at all, she just wanted to get in her usual evening run.

    But Naomi Ragen, like Rosa Parks, has an agenda, but unlike Rosa Parks, she is not part of the group concerned and what the group is doing is not bad. It is just a life style choice that doesn’t hurt any one or deny anyone rights such as voting, seeing where you are going, etc.

  • Peace,

    As a Muslim I would like to make a few comments here in response to 22:

    Even the taliban didnt have ‘chopped up private parts’ as this is a practice that occurs in Africa mostly amongst varying religions.
    Divorce was pretty easy for a woman as well is remarrying.
    Also I want to make the distinction that Taliban does not equal correct understanding of Islamic Law.

  • Hi,
    So, after reading most of these posts, and i know theyre very old, i jsut felt the need to add my two cents, in cse anyone elsereads this message board.
    When i was living in israel last year, on my way to my job, i was on the bus, one of the many that passes through a very religious neighborhood.
    I was sitting in the front, minding my own quiet business, when a man in a black coat and hat came to me and told me to get up, that i was not allowed to sit there. had i not been so caught off guard, i would have started a scene, but since i felt so attacked, tears sprang to my eyes and i got up, in shock. he sat in my seat, the front of the bus was highly unoccupied, and the back wasa crammedd to the hilt with women. I felt so stepped on because of my sex, that i was infuriated, seething mad.
    Israel is not Tehran. Do not segregate women, they are just as good as men and do not have to sit in the back of the bus.
    Next time it happens to me, i will not take it lying down.

  • No wonder there has been constant war ever since the Garden of Eden; what is the point of living if our G_d makes us misserable?