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Bus to Jerusalem stopped after woman refuses to move to back

All Tanya Rosenblit wanted to do was get on a bus to Jerusalem. She didn’t have any plans to turn into the Israeli Rosa Parks, when a group of ultra-Orthodox Jews demanded she move to the back of the bus

Tanya Rosenblit

It was supposed to be just another regular Friday morning for Tanya Rosenblit. Tanya had to get from her hometown Ashdod to Jerusalem for a meeting there. On the way, Rosenblit experienced one of the most intimidating stories of religious coercion I’ve seen lately: She was told by a Haredi man to get to the back of the bus, or nobody was going to go anywhere.

And what do you think Rosenblit did? That’s right – she stayed put. And she took pictures of the whole ordeal and later wrote about it on Facebook. Here’s her story, which I publish a part of with her permission:

A bus ride to Jerusalem taking the wrong turn…

I lived in Israel all my life. I was brought up in a free country and I was taught the value of freedom as a basic right that could never be undermined by anyone. All my life, during my teens, my military service, my university years and then after I always felt as equal among my peers. I was always proud to be a woman and never felt deprived or weakened by men, until today.I had an appointment in an Orthodox Jewish neighborhood in Jerusalem and looked for easy transportation on a Friday morning. After checking the official Egged site, which is the leading bus company in Israel, I decided to take line 451 from Ashdod (my hometown) to Jerusalem. I chose this line because it stopped a mere five minute walk from my scheduled appointment.

The driver looked at the station where I was standing and didn’t stop. I had to signal him by raising my hand for him to stop. When I entered the bus he looked surprised. He explained that the only ones who go on the bus are Orthodox Jews. I sat behind him in the first row and asked for him to tell me when we get to my station.

At the next stop, Orthodox Jews started mounting the bus. At first, they just stared at me, but said nothing and moved on to sit somewhere in the bus behind us. Only one passenger decided that he preferred standing on the stairs near the driver, although there was plenty of space. I didn’t mind that, and focused on the music in my ears. But then, another one entered the bus, but instead of entering, he prevented the driver from closing the door. He looked at me with despise, and when I took off the earphones, I heard him call me “Shikse”, which means “whore” in Yiddish. He demanded I sit in the back of the bus, because Jewish men couldn’t sit behind women (!!!). I refused.

The driver tried to talk to him, explained that he was late, but the “penguin” wouldn’t budge. Another passenger, also religious and orthodox asked the driver to be refunded because he was gonna miss his meeting. He also said that he didn’t mind what was going on, he just wanted to get to where he was going and that the fact that they decided to stop the bus is a good reason for the driver to give him his money back. For company policy, he didn’t, but that’s a different story.

The driver understood he was not going to move anytime soon, so he called the police. Until that moment, no one tried to talk to me. The only comment I heard was from the initiator of this whole mess ordering me to sit in the back of the bus as a sign of respect. In the meantime, a crowd started forming outside the bus, as a result of his cries. I was starting to get scared, to tell you the truth. There were like 20 of them, all wearing black. Most of them were just curious, but they were definitely on his side.

After a while, the police came. It was one officer who first talked to the driver. The driver explained to him that he didn’t tell me anything and that they wouldn’t budge. Then, the officer had a long conversation with the person who started this whole mess. It seemed quite friendly, and in the end, the policeman came to me and asked me if I was willing to respect them and sit in the back of the bus. I answered that I respected them enough by wearing modest cloths, because I knew I was going to an Orthodox neighborhood, but I wouldn’t be humiliated by those who can’t even respect their own mothers and wives.

The officer stepped down and so did the leader of the little protest that was going on. He stayed in Ashdod, while the rest of the Orthodox Jews, including those who got on the bus later on boarded the bus and quietly went to sit behind me. The person who chose to stand on the stairs at the beginning remained on the stairs sitting and praying throughout the entire bus ride, because he wouldn’t sit behind a woman!!!

The entire delay took about half an hour, but we managed to arrive on time. In the neighborhood, I met some very pleasant people who were very happy and eager to help me when I asked for directions, men and women, Orthodox and religious. When I later decided to take a walk around the Mahane Yehuda Market in Jerusalem, I was again treated as an equal, as a secular woman, with the utmost respect and sympathy, by men and women of all streams.

The reason I am posting this story is not to declare the Orthodox Jews as pure evil and the oppressors of human rights and liberties. I want to point out that this is a social and educational problem. There are a lot of lovely things about religion, but forcing people to choose religion is wrong. It is wrong to use religion as an excuse to eliminate people’s basic rights: the right for freedom and the right for dignity.

Waiting for Rosenblit to move to the back, preventing driver from moving (photo: Tanya Rosenblit)

A crowd gathers outside (Photo: Tanya Rosenblit)

He won't sit behind a woman (photo: Tanya Rosenblit)

Policeman speaks to "head" of protest (photo: Tanya Rosenblit)

Most passengers just didn't care (photo :Tanya Rosenblit)

Tanya’s story filled me with mixed emotions. First and foremost, I am in awe of her bravery. I don’t think there was any danger of violence, but to stand up to that kind of intimidation shows an inner strength of a very special kind.

And, of course, it filled me with anger. That the policeman actually asked her to move. And that this is what Israel is turning in to. It’s a slow process. But it’s steady.

Tanya wishes to make sure that her cry is not against the ultra-Orthodox as a whole and does not wish to turn this into a religious war of any kind. As she told me today: “The extremists are the problem. In Israel 2011 we are waging a battle for individual rights. We should fight for freedom and tolerance for all.”

I agree with Tanya that these are extremists. But I also believe their numbers are on the rise, and that the current political system has shown no interest whatsoever in changing the tide.

P.S. I just have to add that as much as I don’t like the word “shikse”, I don’t particularly approve of the term “penguin” as well. I can only presume it was written when emotions ran high.

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    1. Tammy

      Beautiful, brave, bright woman. One sit-down at a time adds up. My only confusion is that a real protester was allowed to stand at the front of the bus, risking self-injury, even his life — here and now.

      Reply to Comment
    2. sarah grant

      As a muslim i am very shocked that a man cauld behave like this,we are equal in every way but 1 so well done you you did great by standing up for yourself a dig clap on the back to you

      Reply to Comment
    3. aristeides


      OK, I know I’m out of date, but I was taught that a gentleman shows respect for a lady, as well as the elderly and infirm, by offering his seat when a bus is crowded.

      It occurs to me that there don’t seem to be many gentlemen in Israel. Does the concept even exist?

      Reply to Comment
    4. Shelly

      If only Tanya Rosenblit did, in fact, turn into the Israeli Rosa Parks. Among other things, Rosa Parks’ courageous action sparked a city-wide bus boycott. If only Tanya’s actions could inspire a country-wide bus boycott. If only…

      Reply to Comment
    5. Nadia

      Right Sarah I agree! I’m a muslim convert and I find this quite shocking! We are equal in God’s eyes and we have been given equal rights. I like your post because it moderate and it brings a social issue to surface in order to correct it and not demonize people who practice it. I think women should stand up for their rights if they feel they are not respected.

      Reply to Comment
    6. Aaron

      This woman obviously has a chip on her shoulder: “those who can’t even respect their own mothers and wives,” etc.

      I agree with the policeman that a secular woman should have complied simply as a sign of respect. If you visited some primitive tribe in South America and they asked you, as a woman, to sit in the women’s place, wouldn’t you respectfully comply rather than give them a lesson in Western style equality? But these “primitive” people on the bus here are your neighbors – all the more reason to show respect!

      I’m also wondering whether it would be perceived differently if it were the *men* who sat in the back of the bus. Presumably that would be fine with the haredim in principle. However, I assume it would only be halakhically valid with some kind of mehitzah, which the bus company of course wouldn’t allow. But in principle, wouldn’t a policy of men-in-the-back-of-the-buse be perceived differently?

      My point is that this isn’t Montgomery, Alabama in the 1950s. Presumably, the idea is that the men are not to be looking at the women, and the only practical way to do that is to put the women in back. It seems rather self-centered and unimaginative to call that a lack of respect for women.

      Reply to Comment
      • Jordan

        No, its not 1950s Alabama – the justification given for segregating people is a whole different load of bullcrap.

        These are government subsidised buses, right? Indeed it seems likely given tax incidence in the Israeli population that Ms Vanderblit is likely to have contributed far more toward funding such public services than her adversaries. So it seems to me that if a display of respect for “foreign” values is called for, its the religious gentlemen who should be deferring to the secular value that people are equal, not vice versa.

        Reply to Comment
      • Scott Gogolewski

        Wow… do you also live in a stone house and power your automobile with your feet???

        Reply to Comment
    7. Graham Lawson

      Aristeides, the question of whether there are any gentlemen in Israel is off-topic, way off-topic. Lest you missed it, the post was about a woman’s right to sit in the seat of her choice on a public bus. It was not about your grasp of Victorian mores. Do spare a thought of others good chap!

      Reply to Comment
    8. Shelly

      @Aaron, I have another idea. Why not equip the Haredi men with pull down blindfolds attached to their blackhats or specs?

      Reply to Comment
    9. Aaron

      By the way, I was in a slightly similar situation once. Riding a bus from Tel Aviv towards Bnei Brak (I was going to Ramat Gan), I sat down in a seat next to a haredit teen-age girl. (Lots of times religious women had sat next to me, so I thought nothing of it.) She gave a panicked look to her friend sitting behind her and then immediately got up and stood in the aisle.

      I stood up, embarrassed, and said, “No, please, you sit.” She said, “No, no, you sit.” That went on for a couple more rounds till a secular girl said to me, “You can sit next to me.” By that time I was so embarrassed, I said no thanks (thereby embarrassing her too, probably) and just kept standing, as was the haredit girl, till I got off at my stop, which mercifully was near.

      The point of all this is that I didn’t sit down next to the girl just because of some stupid right to do so, and I was quite willing to get out of my seat as a sign of respect, even without being asked. No police were involved.

      Reply to Comment
    10. Aaron

      @Shelly: Because it would prevent them from studying Torah while riding the bus?

      Reply to Comment
    11. Sara

      Aaron, the customs of a tribe in South America affect me only for the time I am a tourist/guest in their country and region. We’re talking about an ongoing attempt to impose another Israeli group’s customs on me in my own country.

      This custom, BTW, is completely new. Haredi men and women have refrained from sitting next to someone of the opposite sex for as long as I can remember, that has always been their individual decision to make. There is no precedent, however, for forced separation on public transportation.

      Also BTW, “shiksa” does not mean whore, but rather “non-Jewish woman.” The Yiddish term for whore is “pritza.”

      Reply to Comment
    12. Naomi

      @Aaron: Tanya is not a visitor and guest in a foreign country, as in your example of a visit to a South American village. She is home in her own country and should be given equal rights to live as she chooses. She does not need to acquiesce or “respect” her fellow countrymen’s beliefs if it involves losing her own rights. The Haredis need to understand that they cannot impose their beliefs on others. They are not closer to God. And they need to understand that they too have to respect others’ beliefs.

      Reply to Comment
    13. Mitchell Cohen

      These ultra-Orthodox really need to get their own private bus system (like Beitar has) if they want to have segregated buses. I know that the bus (Egged, the national bus carrier) I take every day from my Orthodox (albeit “modern”) community has a sign that says, “the only passengers that can be asked to move to another seat are passengers sitting in the front seats that are reserved for the elderly or physically disabled and that anyone who transgresses this is subject to punishment by the law”. This needs to be enforced on all Egged buses. I am not sure this can be enforced on private bus lines hired by specific communities.

      Reply to Comment
    14. Raphaël Freeman

      Shiksa does not mean whore it means non-Jew. The insult was being thrown because the man was assuming tha you weren’t Jewish which is why you didn’t know the customs of this particular sect. This general lack of understanding of the local custom and language (note the bus driver’s surprise) puts the story in a different light.

      Reply to Comment
    15. ERIKA

      i agree with Aaron…i am a muslim too and was born and raised in a free country and very westernized..
      “The driver looked at the station where I was standing and didn’t stop. I had to signal him by raising my hand for him to stop. When I entered the bus he looked surprised. He explained that the only ones who go on the bus are Orthodox Jews.”
      right there is ur clue …first, he didnt stop for a reason ..second, she was told the only ones who go on the bus are Orthodox Jews..why put a fight when you are trying to change something that existed for years …if it was me ..i would modestly ask where should i sit so i wouldnt offend anyone and not because i would put myself down but because u r entering a different territory so you respect urself and respect others …this is not about rights ..is about religion ..they r not supposed to look at women …

      Reply to Comment
    16. Tali

      @Aaron. Which South American tribe would ask a visitor to do like Haredim?

      Reply to Comment

      Those actually defending this archaic, hateful and ignorant practice are a big part of the problem. This woman was a victim of bigotry. Period. The very notion that women should sit behind men is idiotic, and the way those men acted is a very shameful.

      And I say this as a Jew myself.

      Reply to Comment
    18. Aaron

      Sara and Naomi, the imposition of haredi practices in this case was on a bus line that was almost exclusively religious or even haredi. Therefore, the woman was in “their neighborhood.” The haredim are not trying to impose this seating arrangement on bus lines with primarily non-haredi passengers. The woman’s ride on this line was indeed a temporary visit, like visiting a primitive village.

      A society in which everyone always insists on their rights would be a miserable place to live. There are rights and there are rights. We need to be able to tell the difference.

      Reply to Comment
    19. aristeides

      The concept of manners and politeness is inextricably tied to that of respect. If you demand respect, you have to be able to give it. The subtext of the bus is: Unclean woman, you are forbidden to place your filthy self where you can be seen. That’s not respect, and it doesn’t deserve respect.

      Reply to Comment
    20. Mitchell Cohen

      “Sara and Naomi, the imposition of haredi practices in this case was on a bus line that was almost exclusively religious or even haredi.” [End of Aaron] This bus line belongs to the national (public) carrier, Egged, and belongs to ALL citizens. Ashdod is also a mixed city (a microcosm of Israel) and does not “belong” to the Haredim. Furthermore, Ashdod is Tanya Rosenblit’s hometown. Sorry, but I can’t agree with you on this and I am a Torah observant Jew myself. I ride non-segregated buses all the time and lightning hasn’t struck me.

      Reply to Comment
    21. Aaron

      Aristeides, I repeat: that view is self-centered and unimaginative. In your case, I’ll add: in bad faith, too.

      Reply to Comment
    22. Aaron

      The incident occurred on a bus, not in all of Israel or all of Ashdod.

      Yes, Egged belongs to all citizens. So do public roads. But some public roads in religious (and Samaritan!) neighborhoods are closed on Shabbat, “violating” the “right” of citizens to drive on them. Egged lines catering almost exclusively to haredim are a similar case.

      If you do think Israelis should be able to drive through all religious neighborhoods on Shabbat, except on privately owned roads, then you’re applying the principle consistently. I think it’s a bad principle (in Israel), because a great benefit to one community can be achieved at a very small cost to another. But if that’s your principle, I won’t argue with it here.

      Reply to Comment
    23. Aaron

      To elaborate on my reply above: If Egged belongs to all citizens (and it does), then shouldn’t it run regularly on Shabbat and hagim as well? And maybe on Yom Kippur?

      Reply to Comment
    24. Mitchell Cohen

      “If you do think Israelis should be able to drive through all religious neighborhoods on Shabbat, except on privately owned roads, then you’re applying the principle consistently.” [End of Aaron] This comparison is non-sequitor. Aside from life and death emergencies, there is no other reason someone would have to drive through a religious community on Shabbat. Nothing is opened in a religious community on Shabbat and if a secular family member wants to visit a religious family member on Shabbat they know in advance that they either have to park their car in the periphery of the community or spend Shabbat by their relatives. However, this woman needed to ride the bus to get where she needed to go. It wasn’t a pleasure trip. Not everyone in Israel owns a car and public transportation is something that everyone needs (as opposed to driving through a religious community on Shabbat).

      Reply to Comment
    25. Mitchell Cohen

      “To elaborate on my reply above: If Egged belongs to all citizens (and it does), then shouldn’t it run regularly on Shabbat and hagim as well? And maybe on Yom Kippur?” [End of Aaron] To answer your ?, in principle yes. That is not to say I would be doing cartwheels and jumping jacks if this happened, but I can understand some Israelis wanting public transportation on Shabbat. In actuality, however, there should be goodwill from both sides: 1) there is a difference between expecting public transportation to operate on Shabbat/Chagim in places like Haifa or Tel-Aviv versus places like the Jewish Quarter in Jerusalem or Bnei Brak 2) obviously, it is not realistic to expect public transportation to operate with the same frequency during Shabbat/Chagim as during the rest of the week 3) religious bus drivers (and there are no shortage of these on Egged) cannot be compelled to work on Shabbat, as this is not pikuach nefesh (life and death), but a matter of convenience (as opposed to a religious paramedic, doctor, police officer, fireman, etc. who are expected to work some Shabbatot on a rotational basis).

      Reply to Comment
    26. Jeff

      @AAron: “Sara and Naomi, the imposition of haredi practices in this case was on a bus line that was almost exclusively religious or even haredi”

      This is nonsense. It’s a public bus that simply happens to run through a Haredi neighborhood. Furthermore, there is no halakhic requirement for this; it’s a result of decades of creating chumrot – unnecessary restrictions – on the part of Haredi sects trying to outdo one another. They pull this crap because they can; they know if they tried it in New York, they’d be thrown off the vehicle.

      Mitchell is correct; if the Haredim want mehadrin – gender-segregated – buses, let them start their own lines. But no, just as they refuse to serve in the armed forces, and many refuse to work, they prefer to exist on the labor of others and to be subsidized by the secular and Liberal Jews for whom they have nothing but contempt.

      Reply to Comment
    27. Couple things.
      1. Shikseh means “non-Jew” not whore. Still obnoxious.
      2. It is illegal in Israel to tell anyone to move seats on a bus, unless they are sitting in the front two seats on the right, which must be yielded to anyone with a handicap or who is otherwise infirm or old. Theoretically, legal action could be taken against the man. The policeman was in the wrong in asking her to move back. Unfortunately, there is a distrust of the police among the charedim, and there is enough mob mentality that if the policeman had done the correct thing and put handcuffs on the man for interfering with public transportation, it would have caused riots.

      There is nothing in Jewish law that says that a man cannot sit behind a woman. The man should have requested to get on the bus in the back so he wouldn’t have to pass next to her.

      Reply to Comment
    28. Aaron, these are not haredi bus lines – these are PUBLIC bus lines. I have a right to board any of them and sit wherever I want.

      And Egged, BTW, is largely subsidized by the govt. By our tax money, the majority of which comes from the non-haredi sectors.

      Reply to Comment
    29. Liz

      Shikse means non-jewish woman…and I am sure that the man in question didnt think that Tanya wasnt jewish, rather than for him and his ilk it is probably the worst insult he can give – after all jews are superior to everyone else… arent we??????

      This article is scary and upsetting, and kol hakavod to Tanya for standing up to these men – if they can be called men. I think I would have been too scared to even try to ride that bus….

      Reply to Comment
    30. aristeides

      Aaron – if you want people to relinquish their rights and suffer inconvenience in order to respect the irrational prejudices of others, don’t you agree that the first step ought to be to ask politely and respectfully?

      I repeat – a person who rudely makes such demands in a manner that shows only disrespect and contempt deserves no respect himself or for his demand. The self-centeredness lies there.

      And there was another alternative for the haredi man who didn’t want to be polluted by proximity to a woman – get off the bus and wait for the next one.

      Reply to Comment
    31. Jilian

      Let’s imagine this did happen in rural Alabama and a bigotted old man demanded that a black woman move to the back of the bus because he feels uncomfortable and disrespected otherwise. Should his request be granted because the area is mostly white or because the black woman didn’t regularly ride that bus?

      Can we please stop pretending like this situation is “special” in some way? Bigotry and irrationality are the same everywhere. Just because someone believes he or she is better or deserves special treatment over another person doesn’t give anyone permission to excuse this incident. There’s no special passes when it comes to freedom in a democratic nation.

      Reply to Comment
    32. Aaron

      Hey everybody, I understand that Egged is public and tax-supported. Again, so are the roads that are closed on shabbatot and hagim. (And Mitchell, that is a valid comparison: Some predominantly religious neighborhoods have *some* residents who don’t observe shabbat; those people are truly inconvenienced, unlike this woman.)

      On whether the law should allow this policy or not for specific bus lines, there are good arguments on both sides. Personally, I wouldn’t mind either way, if the decision was reached in good faith. I’m more interested in the question of what this woman should have done in this particular instance, which is an entirely different question. There I think the answer is much clearer. Just because she had a legal right to sit where she wanted, doesn’t mean she should have insisted on that right.

      I agree that the haredi who called her “shiksa” acted rudely and inappropriately. He should have assumed that she was unaware of the “rule” and asked her politely to move, explaining the reason.

      All the points about whether this is a newly-invented “custom” and not required by halakhah are irrelevant. *That* decision, the moral-religious one, is up to the particular haredi community. The Egged policy itself is ultimately up to Israel as a whole.

      Reply to Comment
    33. Aaron

      Can we please stop seeing everything through the filter of the American Civil Rights movement?

      Reply to Comment
    34. Sid Slivko

      While it’s true that “shiksa” is Yiddish for a gentile female, not “whore” as Tanya wrote (the male form is “shaygetz”), we should remember that comes from the Hebrew “sheketz” which means “abomination” — not a nice term any way you apply it.

      Reply to Comment
    35. Mitchell Cohen

      “And Mitchell, that is a valid comparison: Some predominantly religious neighborhoods have *some* residents who don’t observe shabbat; those people are truly inconvenienced, unlike this woman.” [End of Aaron]

      Apples and oranges. First of all, Shabbat is one day a week, not everyday. Second of all, if a neighborhood is a religious neighborhood and it is known that the roads are closed on Shabbat and a non-religious person still decides to live there, then they realize in advance that they won’t be able to drive within it on Shabbat. Thirdly, I actually live in a community like you describe (it is predominately Shomer Shabbat, but there are pockets, about 5%, of the residents who drive on Shabbat). Our community has a creative solution, where one of the entrances (the one where there are a lot of homes in the vicinity) is closed to traffic on Shabbat, while the other entrance (the one where there are no home in the vicinity) is open to traffic on Shabbat. With a bit of goodwill and creativity, solutions can be found that are acceptable to all and avoid a civil war and feeding to the extremists on BOTH sides.

      Reply to Comment
    36. Jilian Redford

      I’ll bet you all ten shekels that if the man had politely asked her to move further back with a smile instead of calling her a name and refusing to acknowledge her as a person she would have had no problem at all in obliging him. If my fellow countryman spoke “at” me in such a way, I wouldn’t have budged either, and neither would any of you.

      Reply to Comment
    37. aristeides

      Why, Aaron? Because it places the situation in an unflattering light?

      Reply to Comment
    38. Beth

      (1) there may be arguments on both sides, but the Israeli supreme court has decided on the side of those who wish to sit where they wish in the bus. For the present, it is the law of the land. In a country ruled by law, the laws need to be enforced.

      To change the law it would require an act of the Knesset. Until that happens this woman is in her rights. The other examples you give are moot – either they have never been decided by the court or there were additional factors involved that swayed the courts in a different direction.

      (2) Slamming someone else’s view with the plea “can we please stop seeing everything through the civil rights movement” is a meaningless argument. Please be specific about the values or assumptions from that movement that you dislike or think are un-applicable. If you can’t be specific you are simply name calling. Also keep in mind that many of the values that inspired that movement are deeply rooted in biblical and Talmudic understanding of the dignity of human beings.

      (3) You are using “respect” as a way of papering over a very serious moral debate. Think for a moment what is implied by “can’t sit behind a woman”. Why would that be? Jews for centuries never considered this to be halachah so it would be difficult to claim that this was either a Torah or Rabbinic prohibition. Rather it is a prohibition derived based on some very scary assumptions about either women or men or both. Either men are not responsible for over-sexualizing women or women are so inherently sexual that no reasonable person can be expected to control their thoughts when the see the back of a woman’s head. Without those assumptions it is simply impossible to argue that it is impermissible to sit behind a woman. Whilst this may seem like only a communal custom, the belief that one may not sit behind a woman has very serious implications for our understanding of male responsibility and the nature of femininity.

      If we Jews are one people, then we have to consider that we live and base our lives on the same Torah. That means that a non-Haredi Jew has every bit of right to look at this man’s claim that he “can’t sit behind a woman”, conclude that it is based on assumptions that are contrary to dignity and justice as expressed in Jewish tradition and then oppose it.

      Reply to Comment
    39. Sorry, Aaron, “self-centered and unimaginative” is precisely the nature of your arguments. I have no doubt you consider your input to be calm and generous … to me it sounds bigoted and ignorant. Not saying you are … just saying that’s what your positions say to me. I wonder what would happen if a baby woke up and needed to be nursed … I suppose they would throw her off the bus. It is because of the wicked imagination of your hearts that you do not see beauty in woman.

      Reply to Comment
    40. Henry Weinstein

      How to understand the meaning of Professor Aaron’s logical proposition: “There are rights and there are rights”?
      It seems that if you were a woman traveling on a bus line connecting some primitive tribe in Amazon, and if an indigenous male asked you, as a (censored) female, to sit in the back of the bus (with him?), you should comply because it’s the only practical way to show submission.
      Furthermore everybody knows that non-Amazonian (censored) females are not allowed to drive cars on Shabbat in the Amazonian Rainforest.
      Obviously if the bus driver were an Amazonian indigenous female, and if the bus line connected some uncontacted Haredi tribe, Professor Aaron would have explained us the correct way to behave.
      Luis Bunuel would have appreciated to read all these surreal comments. Tomas deTorquemada too.
      What a wonderful thread!
      Tag: Lunatics have taken over the bus

      Reply to Comment
    41. Lisa R

      What I think bothers me most about this is that the Orthodox men were afraid of a non-Orthodox woman who was causing no harm. I realize that they are very legalistic, and may read into what has been written to make it conform to what has been passed down. I simply can’t imagine Jesus or Paul telling a woman to get to the back of the bus.

      Reply to Comment
    42. sarah

      @Aaron: “The woman’s ride on this line was indeed a temporary visit, like visiting a primitive village.”

      yes, yes her trip was like visiting a primitive village.

      Reply to Comment
    43. ilana

      To those who said they should open a private bus line:

      When I was studying in a religious community in israel about 8 years ago, they DID establish their own bus line into Jerusalem. Egged then responded by establishing that route as a “mehadrin” route (one with men and women separate)

      Reply to Comment
    44. sarah

      Also, I’m impressed that the haredi man was able to ask Tanya to move and keep it in at the same time. Maybe we are making some progress here.

      Reply to Comment
    45. Cortez

      “My point is that this isn’t Montgomery, Alabama in the 1950s. Presumably, the idea is that the men are not to be looking at the women, and the only practical way to do that is to put the women in back. It seems rather self-centered and unimaginative to call that a lack of respect for women.”

      Unfortunately it is though–in Jerusalem and in Area C of the West Bank. Seats for women only…places where jews can walk and where palestinians cant walk…homes for people based on their ethnoreligious status. Looks like plain ole 1950s segregation…complete with administrative and informal practices…and many cases laws to strengthen the effect.

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    46. Jo

      shiksa means a non jewish woman

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    47. AMIR.BK

      The reason Aris’ argument needs to be ignored is because even though plenty of Israelis are against what we call “Hadarat Nashim”, including for instance several posts by Y. Gurvitz on this site alone etc, Mr. Aris’ would make a ‘coy’ post about “Israelis” not being “Gentlemen” because some messianic douches mistreat ladies. This appears extra stupid compounded by the fact that traditional ‘gentleman’ values are patriarchal and are in essence a tool of opression. It’s funny how some people think ‘talking smack’ against Israelis is anti-colonialist dissent.
      And then we have two (presumably) Adult Converts To Islam, who keep telling us how this kind of stuff just-can’t-possibly-happen-in-islam and how shocked (!) they are. Hypocracy knows no limits.
      ‘Progressivists’ in Israel really don’t need these kind of allies.

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    48. Piotr Berman

      Clearly, police has to adapt to the community where they operate.

      It reminds me a story in New Yorker, the reporter was in Moscow suburb. As he drove, he got into a bender-fender with a large black sedan. Three well muscled men approached him, one of them barked with disdain “it will cost you 1000 dollars” — and they drove away. The reporter drove to a police station. Young policeman on duty was very helpful, he informed the reporter that this is indeed a serious matter because without any doubt he collided with a car that belongs to a mafia. (I am re-inventing some details like exact amount of money and names). If unpaid, they would probably not kill the report for such a trifling amount, but they could hurt him. At that point the policeman made a series of phone calls. It took 5-10 minutes, and then he informed the reporter to whom he should bring the money to avoid unpleasantries. You see, there was more than one mafia in the area.

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    49. Yehudit Sarah

      This article is so filled with misinformation! To start with, the word “shiksa” does NOT mean “whore.” It simply means a non-Jewish woman. Based on that truth, the Orthodox man must have made the comment thinking Tanya was a non Jewish woman because what Jewish woman would so flagrantly flaunt herself in what is obviously a religious situation. Talk about respecting someone else’s rights…what about the religious men’s rights? I am not saying everyone must become Orthodox; all I am saying is to be sensitive to the Orthodox men the way you want them to be sensitive to you. They live in a sheltered world; Tanya does not. By acquiescing to their mores during the course of a bus ride is not such a big thing. it’s only the length of the bus ride! Tanya’s refusing to move will not have any effect on the men saying “Oh, you know what, you’re right! We’re wrong.” So what do you gain? Meanwhile, moving to the back of the bus would mean the men would not be forced to feel uncomfortable in the company of a woman not a family member. Yes, the situation could have been handled better – no question. But how about understanding the world these men live in? How does it hinder Tanya? She gets off the bus and goes on living her secular life and is none the worse for the experience. But these men practice a particular brand of stringency which, if understood properly, is not a putting down of women at all, but a restricting of themselves from being put into a situation of potential temptation. Additionally, if they wish to conduct the afternoon (or evening)prayers which is their obligation, they can not do so with a woman in their midst. This is the Orthodox way and by being disrespectful and acting “dafka” just ignited emotions. If Tanya were in a Muslim country and had to wear a head covering or face covering or full body covering in order to be able to walk on the street, she would have no choice or face potential jailing under local law – or worse! If she were to visit a Native American/Indian reservation or festivity and the women were ushered into one teepee and the men into another, it is highly doubtful that Tanya would blatantly sit in the middle of the men’s circle. Why is this any different? In many other countries in the world, a Jew of any denomination would still be harrassed, ridiculted, beaten, or worse. Why in our own country of Israel can there not be respect for those who observe their Jewish heritage in a way that is different from our own and let each live in peace?

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    50. Diane Kopper

      Sub-Headline of this post: “…when a group of ultra-Orthodox Jews demanded she move to the back of the bus.”

      Where is there mention of group? Seems like one man, and then some supporters. Why not position the piece as the acted-on sentiments of one Charedi man? That would be a more journalistically accurate reflection of occurrence, I think.

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