The Kidnapping of Rosa Parks

Shira Schmidt

Shira Leibowitz Schmidt was raised in an assimilated Jewish home in New York, and became observant while studying at Stanford University in California. In June 1967 she told her engineering school professor she would miss the final exam because she was going to Israel to volunteer during the Six Day War. “That’s the most original excuse I have ever been offered,” he responded. She arrived during the war and stayed, receiving her BSc in absentia. She subsequently met and married the late Elhanan Leibowitz, and they raised their six children in Beersheba. Mrs. Leibowitz acquired a Masters in Urban & Regional Planning from the Technion, and an MSc in Civil Engineering from University of Waterloo. Today she lives with her husband, Dr. Baruch Schmidt, in Netanya. She co-authored, with Nobel prize-winning chemist Roald Hoffmann, Old Wine New Flasks. She has co-translated from Hebrew to English (with Jessica Setbon) From the Depths (the autobiography of Rabbi Israel Meir Lau); The Forgotten Memoirs (memoirs of Rabbis who survived the Shoah, edited by Esther Farbstein); and Rest of the Dove (Parashat Hashavua by Rabbi Haim Sabato). She and her husband appear in the documentary film about the Sanz-Klausenberger Rebbe, “Hidden Face.” She is available to lecture in Israel and in the US and can be contacted via www.cross-currents.com.

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74 Responses

  1. Charles B. Hall says:

    ‘I could criticize them for not knowing American history and having never heard of Rosa Parks’

    I once spent a Shabat in a Chasidic community outside of the United States and was amazed to find out that most of the young people there had never heard of Sandy Koufax.

    ‘rampant public permissiveness’

    Is it really worse than in the United States, where charedim and modern orthodox Jews both take public transportation on a regular basis — learning from our ccompact humashim and gemaras while doing so?

  2. Yaakov says:

    You note that on the “mehadrin” buses that women would ideally get on in the back of the bus and punch their own tickets. How then would you address the inherent security risk of letting passengers get on the bus without passing the driver? Egged drivers are trained to spot terrorists coming onto the bus. It is an unfortunate necessity of the times that boarding passengers must – at the very least – be given the “once-over” by someone (driver or security guard) who knows what they are looking for. If women, or any passengers, are allowed to bypass the driver, this puts everyone on the bus in danger. There is no one place in Israel or bus line that is inherently “safer” or more immune to suicide bombers, and as we have seen, our cousins have no reticence in sending their women on missions to kill Jews.

    So totally aside from whether separate seating is halachically preferable – how can you support this when it could put everyone on the bus in danger (or at least more danger than if everyone boarded in the front by the driver)?

  3. Koznitzer says:

    Hadran

    “But the bottom line is that if haredim want the mehadrin lines to continue, then their behavior will have to be above reproach and always be as tolerant as I found my sample was last week.”

  4. Ahron says:

    “Egged (the Goliath in the piece) has ruthlessly taken over and gobbled up many of the tiny private haredi lines (the Davids)…”

    In that case black-hat communities should have no problem if Egged is ordered to stop running its “mehadrin” (what a distortion of vocabulary!) lines, and private companies can step into the breach. In fact it would be far more advantageous since those communities would no longer have to deal with a (virtual) branch of the secular government and non-religious riders. And so the return to an Edenic womb of hermetic cultural isolation can be even more complete–a net gain for all.

  5. katrina says:

    This kind of reminds me of an article I read by a Muslim woman defending the burka. And really, I can see the appeal of a burka- it’s a little portable tent of privacy and solitude. You don’t have to worry if your having a bad hair day or if you have zits or if you put on weight. It makes clothes shopping a lot simpler. AND it supposedly it helps to prevent you from provoking creepy men who view women as if they are tempting desert items to be consumed at will. Frankly there are days where I wouldn’t mind wearing a burka! And if Muslim women WANT to wear burkas I have no problem with that. What I do have a problem with is the hand that throws a stone at the woman for not wearing the burka. Or the man who feels “justifed” in his actions because the woman “tempted” him. It’s amazing how easily “modesty” can become oppression. I know how it is to be on a diet and have people eating ice creme in front of you. I can ASK people to be considerate but I cannot force people to not eat ice creme because I’m on a diet. And if I give into temptation-I have no one to blame but myself. It’s called “self responsibility”-taking responsibilty for YOUR actions. We don’t hear this term very often when it comes to men. It’s always the woman’s fault, she asked for it, he couldn’t help himself, she tempted him, . This article deflects attention away from oppression- from women being bullied and forced to sit at the back of the bus- by pointing out how many woman willingly do so. It deflects attention from the violent tznius bullies by pointing out all the men who aren’t violent tznius bullies. I find it amazing that someone would actually go to the trouble of getting on buses and riding the length and breadth of Israel just to make such a shoddy argument.

  6. David says:

    I don’t understand one thing about any pro-mehadrin apologetics. Why is it that the women have to sit in the back? Why is just presumed that this is the case? Why should there be a special dispensation for pregnant women and maybe older women? That’s the moral of the Rosa Parks story. If you have separate entrances and people punching their own tickets, why not the men? Furthermore, even if the women “enjoy” helping the men reach a higher spiritual plane, why does the system not encourage the reverse? This assumption that it is the responsibility of women to not just take care of their own spiritual needs, but also assist in the development of men is absurd and offensive. I don’t think i have an issue with separate anything. I don’t agree with it in totality, but I can understand the effort to try to keep as far away from giluy arayos as possible, but nonetheless, the absurdity is the assumption that it is the women who have to make the adjustments and go to the back.

  7. Rafi Goldmeier says:

    You are comparig apples and oranges. The incident of Ms. Shear happened on a non-mehadrin bus. You say you rode mehadrin buses. I think anybody gettin on a mehadrin bus (or most people at least) will honor the rules of the bus they are riding. Ms. Shear was on a non-mehadrin bus in which someone was trying to enforce rules that did not apply to that route.

    A very big difference if you ask me…

    Rafi
    http://lifeinisrael.blogspot.com

  8. Bitzy says:

    I think its fantastic that you have recognoized as truthful what happened to Mrs. Shear. I agree it is an isolated incident, but we have an obligation to do everything we can to make sure it never happens again. Also, cultural values need to be taken into consideration. Just because a haredi woman is so used to being treated as seccond class, in the eyes of an american Jew, that has the same rights as that woman to be on that bus her cultural values need to be taken into consideration as well.

  9. Miriam says:

    In the piece on JTA, Shira Schmidt writes:

    “Why women in the back? It isn’t strictly required, but in the Shema prayer we are warned not to follow our roving eyes, and some Orthodox men take an extra stringency upon themselves to minimize such opportunities.”

    This does not answer the questiom of why women must sit in the back. Whether or not we compare Israeli society and American society, or Israeli and American frum mores, the argument that the back of the bus is only negative in American eyes because of Rosa Parks comes out of a very small sample of charedi women who she spoke to. How many people who get on a bus, will choose to sit in the back? Has a true study of Charedi women been done to see if they have a preference, and how is the question worded?

    If, as Ms. Schmidt writes, the stringency is on the men, then the men should be happy to sit where the women determine, and not the other way around.

  10. Ori Pomerantz says:

    Many people have a problem facing backwards on buses that shake and turn (in contrast to trains that provide a much smoother ride). Therefore, if the purpose of the exercise is to prevent men from looking at women, either the women have to be the ones sitting in the back, or there needs to be a mechitzah.

    However, the back of the bus does shake more, and is the worst part of the bus.

  11. mordechai says:

    Why not have the men all walk and the women ride in the bus.

    The men supposedly are learning in yeshiva all day and should never be on the bus. The yeshivas can just pay for school buses to take the man to yeshiva and back at the end of the school day.

    I will argue this call for seperate buses comes from haredi assimilation of the non Jewish mores of the Muslim population. Men and women have never had this level of seperation in Judaism, not in Europe, not in the Sephardi Diaspora and not in the US. The haredi worlds move to the right is just as assimilationist as the reform movements lurch to the left. One is imitation Muslims and the other secularists. Neither is authentically Jewish.

  12. ed says:

    >Why not have the men all walk and the women ride in the bus.
    The men supposedly are learning in yeshiva all day and should never be on the bus. The yeshivas can just pay for school buses to take the man to yeshiva and back at the end of the school day.

    Its a shame you don’t realize how silly you sound. As if the only time a Charedi male goes onto a bus is to Yeshiva. Please. It doesn’t take much imagination to figure out a million other reasons for using a bus.

    >I will argue this call for seperate buses comes from haredi assimilation of the non Jewish mores of the Muslim population. Men and women have never had this level of seperation in Judaism, not in Europe, not in the Sephardi Diaspora and not in the US.

    Never had their been such terrible influences due to TV, internet, immodest advertising etc etc

    >The haredi worlds move to the right is just as assimilationist as the reform movements lurch to the left.

    Sheer nonsense. Its called “Kedoshim Tiyu”.

    >One is imitation Muslims and the other secularists. Neither is authentically Jewish.

    Read some Gemara. The sages would have done the same.

  13. ed says:

    >You note that on the “mehadrin” buses that women would ideally get on in the back of the bus and punch their own tickets. How then would you address the inherent security risk of letting passengers get on the bus without passing the driver?

    Because jews who fear the King of all Kings don’t need egged trained eyes, but rather they rely on the true guardian of Israel who neither slumbers nor sleeps.

  14. ed says:

    >So totally aside from whether separate seating is halachically preferable – how can you support this when it could put everyone on the bus in danger

    Same concept as Sheluchei Mitzva Einom Nizakin.

  15. ed says:

    >This article deflects attention away from oppression- from women being bullied and forced to sit at the back of the bus- by pointing out how many woman willingly do so.

    Exactly. Most Charedi women WILLINGLY sit in the back. The ones who resist are usually the American/Canadian/Feminist ones.

    >It deflects attention from the violent tznius bullies by pointing out all the men who aren’t violent tznius bullies.

    From the tens of thousands of Charedi male riders, we’ve heard of maybe 5-10-15 bullies? Every society has their bag of garbage. Why do we need to blow this so out of proportion???

    Thank you Mrs Schmidt for your wonderful report. Its truly sad that the masses are so biased by the Charedi hating media that there was even a need for your report.

  16. SD says:

    As someone who lived in Kiryat Sefer for several years, I would have to disagree with Mrs. Schmidt’s take.

    I don’t know what the situation is like now, but when I was living there (and this is an all-charedi, 99% kollel-husbands city – unique in EY), the buses were NOT separate and every time the issue of separate seating was raised, it was rejected. And, believe me, it WAS raised.

    Riding the buses as a pregnant woman is nauseating enough as the buses swerve around and around and around through the neighborhoods and then into Yerushalayim. Being in the back of the bus is even more nauseating, with its increased fumes, increased heat, increased noise, and increased vibration. Not only is it nauseating, but it’s downright unhealthy for the fetus.

    Considering how common it is (bli ayen hara) that the young women taking the bus to work are pregnant (50%?), this is absolutely unacceptable.

    Empowering for women?

    Please.

    Any woman who wishes to empower herself by going to the back so that no one could see her is free to do so. (Make the last couple of rows ladies only; no sane person older than 16 would want to sit there anyway).

    But, don’t tell me that it’s empowering to force someone to sit where they don’t wish to. And especially when they’re being compelled to do so for someone else’s benefit.

    SD

  17. HILLEL says:

    PERMIT ME TO STATE WHAT SHOULD BE OBVIOUS:

    A SECULAR “MEHADRIN” BUS COMPANY IS AN OXYMORON.

    TELL EGGED TO BUG OFF, AND ALLOW THE “MEHADRIN” BUS SERVICES TO BE RUN BY THE HAREIDI BUS COMPANIES.

    THIS WILL MAKE EVERYONE (EXCEPT EGGED) HAPPY!

  18. charedilite says:

    This entire issue could be solved to everyone’s liking with a little ingenuity. Let the men sit in the back: this eliminates any negative connotations of oppression of women. Have the rear seats face the back of the bus or have a curtain close off the men’s section: now the men won’t have to look at the women. Have an avreich on each bus standing by the back door, to punch every man’s ticket and check for terrorists (similar to having avreichim going to check the clothing in women’s stores in Geulah): now Egged won’t have those entering from the back not pay the fare and there is no breach of security. Have the women board the bus in front and sit in front, with a curtain behind the women’s section: now the women can sit among women, and pregnant women and women with babies can take front seats. Have the middle of the bus available for mixed seating: couples desiring to sit together can do so without creating an incident. Now everyone’s interests are taken care of!
    So, what are the chances such an arrangement will ever happen?

  19. Seeking Emes says:

    “Men and women have never had this level of seperation in Judaism, not in Europe”

    Actually, I believe in some communities such as Kelm, men walked on one side of the street and women on the other.

  20. S. says:

    >“Why women in the back? It isn’t strictly required, but in the Shema prayer we are warned not to follow our roving eyes, and some Orthodox men take an extra stringency upon themselves to minimize such opportunities.”

    Upon themselves?

  21. Menachem Lipkin says:

    Mrs. Schmidt created a straw man by calling the situation a “battlefield” and having us believe that anyone is claiming that we are dealing with an all-out war. So it was then quite easy for Mrs. Schmidt to take her road-trip and not find a “battlefield”.

    Further undermining the credibility of Mrs. Schmidt’s findings is that, as a self proclaimed defender of mehadrin buses, she merely found only what she was seeking to find.

    As a visibly chareidi woman Mrs. Schmidt was far less likely to encounter some of the issues faced by non-chareidim on these buses. This is akin to a white man traveling the buses in Alabama in the 50’s and seeing white folks sitting in the front of the bus and black folks amiably moving to the back and thinking everything is peachy keen.

    Ironically, something that Mrs. Schmidt found to be a plus has quite insidious implications. Mrs. Schmidt gave examples of women sitting in the front, couples sitting in the middle and men sitting in the back. Unless she tells us otherwise we would have to assume that these were all chareidim, which begs the following question. Is this selective enforcement of the mehadrin bus rules meant only to be used as another sledge hammer on the heads of the general population? Would the folks on these buses have been so peaceful if the woman sitting it front was wearing a jeans skirt, the couple in the middle wearing IDF uniforms, or the man in the back wearing an earring?

  22. Yisroel Lipkin says:

    The issue is NOT the segregated bus line. The issue is the method of enforcement. The cultural norms of those neighborhoods are such there are separation of the sexes, those areas are not the 5 towns. However, what can be agreed upon is when someone violates those norms accidentally they can be politely informed of the local custom, & even when they willingly and provocatively violate them (assuming they are religious and presumably should understand the propriety of such a custom, Secular people have no concept of such customs and should always be regarded as unwilling violators) someone who is offended can do no more than protest verbally, without threats. The violation is not so egregious to warrant physical intervention. This is not Pinchos & Zimri when you can say Kanoim poigim bah. At most you can look at the offender as an arrogant idiot.

  23. SP says:

    As I wrote on hirhurim, you quote american history, but you forget it as well. There were plenty of blacks that felt segregation empowered them. They felt there was no possible way for them to compete with the “white man”. Segegation therefore gave them their own playground to play in away from the white man’s dominance. Yes, there were bad things about it, but many felt that it was a good system for them, much better than slavery was.

    Read up on the “atlanata compromise” and learn a little bit about Booker T. Washington. W. E. B. Dubois hammered him because of this.

  24. kar says:

    “A decade ago under the rubric of multiculturalism private bus lines catering to the religious sector sprung up as an answer to rampant public permissiveness. Egged put them out of business, took them over, and problems began. Now the haredim are taking the rap for Egged’s rapaciousness.”

    I believe the incident with Ms. Shear happened on a line that was never serviced by a private company. How can one blame Egged for a hostile takeover of lines that were never private?
    In addition, when they cut the prices on intercity buses they are offering a service. Otherwise, people would continue to use the private lines. If haredim are not interested in paying more for private mehadrin lines, then maybe they don’t need them.

  25. Jewish Observer says:

    “They were incredulous when I told them that sitting in the back is degrading in American eyes”

    this is misleading and disingenuous. it is not that sitting in the back is degrading in American eyes. it is that sitting in the back in america was degrading.

    by the way, i am not sure that charedi israelis are the best barometer for etiquette

  26. SM says:

    Fascinating. My family is as close to being Haredi as you can get whilst still being MO – large families, kollel, tzniut, and all. Yet they unanimously (that’s men as well) condemn the fact that women have to sit at the back. And their attitude to separated buses is amused tolerance so it is definitely where the women are compelled to sit which causes the problem.

    So the women you found who were amazed that it was regarded as degrading “in American eyes” must be people who simply don’t mix within their own country.

    That, it seems to me, is a problem. To have a section of society which simply does not understand how other people behave is bad news – particularly as a minority of that section (however small) is prepared to adopt violence to get what it wants. Surely that poses a challenge to the leadership of that section. Yet I discern total inaction.

    It is basic common sense and basic good manners (to say nothing of the mitzvah of not putting a stumpbling block in front of a blind man) to know how the majority think. That is not to say that one must then behave as the majority behave. But such a lack of comprehension about Israeli society suggests that Charedi leadership is prepared to leave (at least) Charedi women utterly unknowing. Surely ignorance should be self-selected, not imposed.

  27. shalhevet says:

    “Would the folks on these buses have been so peaceful if the woman sitting it front was wearing a jeans skirt, the couple in the middle wearing IDF uniforms, or the man in the back wearing an earring?”
    Just today I rode on a “Mehadrin” line, and aside from the Charedi older lady in the front, there was a woman who loooked non-religious (from her dress)in middle of the front section too. As far as I could tell noone seemed to be making any comments: not the men and not the women. I took note of this for Cross-Currents readers. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have noticed, as this happpens fairly often!
    SD- Kiryat Sefer buses are still not Mehadrin, at the rabbonim’s insistence, I understand. Perhaps this is due to the fact that they pick up form a few non-charedi and non-religious places in the area.

  28. ed says:

    >Being in the back of the bus is even more nauseating, with its increased fumes, increased heat, increased noise, and increased vibration. Not only is it nauseating, but it’s downright unhealthy for the fetus.

    Do you have a letter or article from a Doctor supporting that? Or is it just a product of your imagination?

  29. ed says:

    >this is misleading and disingenuous. it is not that sitting in the back is degrading in American eyes. it is that sitting in the back in america was degrading.

    And among our holy righteous women in Eretz Yisroel, it isn’t degrading and therefore everyone should stop labeling them as second class citizens.

    To them, what matters is what class citizens they will be in the world to come. And the Mesiras Nefesh they have to enable men to live on a higher standard Kedusha will surely place them in Mizrach in Olam Habo.

    >by the way, i am not sure that charedi israelis are the best barometer for etiquette

    What absolute Motzi Shem Ra and Loshon Hora on Acheinu Bnei Yisroel. You should bury your head in shame.

  30. Ori Pomerantz says:

    ed: Because jews who fear the King of all Kings don’t need egged trained eyes, but rather they rely on the true guardian of Israel who neither slumbers nor sleeps.

    Ori: Does G-d protect Jews who do not expend their own best efforts to be safe?

    When King David wanted the Israelites to be safe from their enemies, he did not rely on “Hashem Yilachem Lachem veAtem Tachrishun” – G-d will fight for you and you’ll be quiet. He raised an army and fought a physical war.

    When Mordechai heard of Hamman’s plot to kill the Jews, he told Esther to ask for the Jews’ lives. Esther had to rely on divine help, but she did not just sit and pray. She physically went into the king’s court and begged him to reverse his decree. Finally, when the king reversed his decree, the Jews had to fight their enemies (Ester 9:2, “נקהלו היהודים בעריהם, בכל-מדינות המלך אחשורוש, לשלח יד, במבקשי רעתם; ואיש לא-עמד לפניהם, כי-נפל פחדם על-כל-העמים.”).

    Do you think this generation merits more protection?

  31. S. says:

    >Actually, I believe in some communities such as Kelm, men walked on one side of the street and women on the other.

    And the non-Jews in Kelm?

  32. Harry Maryles says:

    What I found riding the buses last week was not a battlefront, but a group of quiet, amiable, easy-going passengers. The live-and-let-live was evident. One haredi man got on with his little son in tow and went to sit in the last row of the women’s section. No one batted an eyelash.

    Most Charedim are exactly the way you described them, peaceful with a “live and let live” attitude. I would not have expected your experience to be any different than the way you described it.

    The problem is when there is an exception like the one Mrs. Shear experienced. It would have been an outrage even were it to have tkane place on an official Mehadrin bus, let alone an unofficial one. The question is, how rare is it? And what was the rational of those thugs? Did their education in any way contribute to their thuggery? I think it did. When people are constantly indoctrinated to hate the secular world and the Pritzus (moral decay) within it, it isn’t that much of a leap for a religious zealot to take matters into his own hands after seeing continued violations of his community’s Tznius standards… and “show these people (the Mrs. Shears of the world) Kavod HaTorah!” Altough most Charedim would look the other way and either be Dan Mrs.Shear L’Kaf Zechus (judge her favorably) or at worst just shake their heads and just shrug it off. But in the case of Mrs. Shear, that Charedi thug (and who know how many others like him feel this way) actually believed he was doing the right thing. And that’s the problem!

  33. Charles B. Hall, PhD says:

    ‘jews who fear the King of all Kings don’t need egged trained eyes, but rather they rely on the true guardian of Israel who neither slumbers nor sleeps.’

    We are forbidden to rely upon miracles. Do you really propose to abolish the IDF?

  34. Menachem Lipkin says:

    From Ed,

    “Sheer nonsense. Its called “Kedoshim Tiyu”.”

    No Ed. Actually, the behavior of the zealots that attacked Mrs. Shear is a violation of Kedoshim Tihiyu.

    Forcing women who are pregnant, who have small kids, or who are carrying packages up the narrow and steep rear entrance of the bus in the name of some halachic chumra is exactly what the Ramban was talking about in commenting on Kedoshim Tihiyu when he said that one can be a Navel B’Reshut HaTorah.

  35. Bob Miller says:

    The only way to make separate bus seating OK is to make it voluntary.

    Obviously, this would not always work on a public bus inherently open to all passengers, even a bus with special markings.

    On a private bus, agreement with the designated seating arrangement could be part of the terms and conditions of purchasing a ticket. This to me would be voluntary, since there would also be unrestricted public buses around.

  36. aj says:

    “As far as I could tell noone seemed to be making any comments: not the men and not the women. I took note of this for Cross-Currents readers. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have noticed, as this happpens fairly often!”

    It doesn’t really matter that most of the time the set-up on mehadrin buses work. I think we already knew that, before Ms Schmidt’s and your report. The problem is that it’s a set-up for such confrontations to happen some proportion of the time.
    As well as a set-up for other problems, such as pregnant women standing while there are empty seats in the men’s section, as the men cannot even see the women, and other such unmentschlich happenings that predictably result from this arrangement.

  37. Steve Brizel says:

    Mrs. Schmidt-just curious-what response would do you have for the Charedi woman who rejected the idea that sitting in the back of a bus, at least for a typically pregnant Charedi woman with other childen, packages, etc is enpowering? While I understand the rationale for Mhadrin buses as economically motivated or even as a contemporary application of avizurahu deorayos, one can see such her response as a rather devastating critique of the same-especially from a health perspective. Would not at least a sense of kavod habriyos dictate that at least an obviously pregnant woman should be allowed to sit where she wants without any fear of retribution or criticism by anyone?

  38. dovid says:

    “Charedi thug”

    Isn’t this an oxymoron? It should be at least for the writers and readers of CC.

  39. Baruch Horowitz says:

    “The issue is NOT the segregated bus line. The issue is the method of enforcement. The cultural norms of those neighborhoods are such there are separation of the sexes, those areas are not the 5 towns”

    The Yated quoted from the Beitar Illit gathering for tzniyus last month:

    “Under the current set of circumstances on public buses it is very hard to maintain proper modesty with women walking down the aisle past the men, both in terms of the men and the women themselves, therefore it has been decided to arrange to have women board via the rear door and the public is asked to assist in upholding these arrangements”

    The current approach which is often used to deal with modesty or technological issues is to call a public gathering for men and/or women, issue a set of guidelines, and then attempt to enforce them, such as by certifying stores for tzniyus, having people supervise public areas to ensure that there is no intermingling, and in some circumstances, letting schools accept only children of parents who comply with communual standards.

    The benefit of doing things this way is that it is a quicker way of change, which is felt necessary either when there is concern that individuals will negatively affect the group, or because of concern that the community will collectively be held responsible for some individual’s lack of observance. The drawback is that, particulary when dealing with tzniyus which is a personal area, there might be individuals even in Israel who benefit from a more individualistic approach.

  40. aj says:

    “One thing I regret is that in the JTA oped they had to cut, due to word count limits, a passage I quoted from a Naomi Ragen novel. Naomi is acutely aware of the problem of putting temptation in front of someone, so I am surprised she underestimates the attraction women sometimes present to men. This is the passage that was cut:”

    The passage describes maliciously taunting a young child. Getting on a bus with women is comparable to eating a meat meal and then getting on a bus on which someone happens to be eating ice cream, not to malicious taunting. You are implying that the mere sight of women is a malicious taunt to haredi men!

    The issur of lifnei iver (placing a stumbling block before the blind) does not only apply to any situation where a man might gaze at a woman. It is also ossur to set up a situation in which people will be led to embarrass others, or not rise for those they are obligated to rise for, and commit similar issurim. One could as easily, probably more easily, make a case that mehadrin buses are lifnei iver as that non-mehadrin buses are. Mehadrin seating is bound to lead to situations where women are embarrassed to request sitting in the men’s section, or where there are empty seats in the mens’ section while women stand. One is required to stand for the elderly, an eshes chaver, etc. and the men do not even see the women on mehadrin buses to know if their section is full.

    Before we discuss if mehadrin buses are obligatory, perhaps someone can explain why they are permissible.

  41. aj says:

    “The haredi owner of the private line that resisted the takeover said that he makes sure that pregnant women can sit in the front.”

    How does he make sure that they are not embarrassed by having to make a spectacle of themselves sitting with the men? What about women in early stages of pregnancy who don’t want to make their pregnancy known? What about that fact that the papers report that women, including pregnant women, stand while there are empty seats among the men? What about the issur to have elderly women or a choshuv woman stand, particularly when there are empty seats?

    It’s predictable that there will be problems – and anyone who doubts there are problems only has to google “mehadrin buses” to see that incidents like the one with Ms Shear have been reported in the past, that pregnant women are reported to stand, and the like.

    “He pointed out the truly great rabbis who have ridden with him couldn’t care less.”

    This doesn’t explain why the gedolim didn’t call for separate buses – is the claim that the roshei yeshiva are out of touch with the needs of bochrim?! That is why he said this – because mehadrin buses were not arranged due to instructions of gedolim, but began as a private initiative. He’s just explaining that in his view, daas torah is out of touch. I’m surprised that you print this so nonchalantly 🙂

    At this point, the arguments have little to do with tznius or empowerment, and everything to do with power politics. This post by Tzvi Stein on Mail-Jewish is, I believe, on target:

    http://www.ottmall.com/mj_ht_arch/v54/mj_v54i01.html#CE

    an excerpt:

    The Israeli bus situation is also about power, but not, as it may at first seem, power of men vs. women. Rather, it is an issue of power of chareidi society vs. secular society. This is a very deep struggle, which explains many of the positions and actions of chareidim as a society. For a woman to challenge the separate seating status quo, is viewed as a threat of secular encroachment on an area where chareidim have gained control, and that is the main fear that motivated the incident. This also explains why the women on the bus did not stand up for the victim… because they understood that this was not a man vs.
    woman confrontation, but a chareidi vs. secular one, and they lined up on the chareidi side.

    Note that it doesn’t matter that the challenge to power came from a religious woman. Her identity did not matter, only the threat she posed did. This is similar to the reaction to whites who came to the south to support black civil rights… those whites were attacked with just as
    much severity as blacks would be. Again the identity of the “challenger” was not important, only the threat that they posed.

    The secular education issue is another prime example of this struggle… it is not really about the dangers of education, but a defense against an increase in secular influence (and thus, power) over chareidim. Another example… there is a very strong opposition to sports among chareidi educators to the extent that students are prevented from engaging in any form of play involving a ball, whether during or outside school hours. This has nothing to do with the “morality” or “value” of sports, per se, but rather a defense against another form of secular power. Since professional sports (soccer and basketball) in Israel are an important part of secular culture, chareidim want to prevent the youth from becoming involved or influenced by sports, because that would be a cultural victory for the secular side.

    Finally, your claim in the JTA article about the attitude embodied in halacha is not correct. You write:

    “Why women in the back? It isn’t strictly required, but in the Shema prayer we are warned not to follow our roving eyes, and some Orthodox men take an extra stringency upon themselves to minimize such opportunities.
    The advertising industry did not need the Shema to know that men are more easily stirred by visual stimulation than women.”

    The issur in question is more likely “v’nishmarta,” (Deut. 23:10) than “lo sossuru” (from the Shema), but either way, it doesn’t rest on a claim that men are more easily “stirred” by visual stimulation than women are. The reason there is an issur histaklus (lewd gazing) for men and not women is that the issur is concerned with hotzaas zera levatala (any potential for seminal emission), and HZL is a biological impossibility for women. In reality there are a number of proofs to the fact that Judaism considers women to respond to visual attraction, and no basis for differentiation between men and women on that score. (The biological basis for the issur histaklus is important, as there are periodic claims that when women are attracted, there is an issur histaklus – these claims are incorrect) Ms. Schmidt writes:

    “By analogy, if your spouse is on a diet, you wouldn’t intentionally tempt your spouse, saying, “That’s your problem, control yourself.”
    While self-control is an admirable quality, you shouldn’t put stumbling blocks before the blind… or the sighted.
    Women who chose to ride in the rear of the bus see themselves as partners in, and beneficiaries of, the attempt to encourage family integrity by creating temptation-free comfort zones.”

    The thrust here – that men are considered more easily led to temptation, or visual temptation, and that therefore need more protection in order to be oriented to their families – is incorrect, and if anything, the reverse is the case, as chazal considered women to be more prone to sexual sin than men. The sentiments on which your essay is based owe much to Victorian ideals, and are common in some Xian circles, but have no basis in Judaism.

  42. Shira Schmidt says:

    3 bAdar The women whom I interviewed on my research expedition brought this point up and said they were happy to inconvenience themselves and take upon themselves some discomfort because this is compensated in olam haba. Other said, men have their learning to do, even if it is not comfortable for them; women have tznius as their challenge, even if it is not comfortable for them.

    There are two problems with this: (a) while these women may see “uncomfortable back seats while pregnant” as a “labor of love” , it is a problem to put this trip on other women. (b) my sample was skewed because it was a self-selected group of women who chose the Mehadrin 402 line.

    A third response was, What do you mean uncomfortable? The privacy and comraderie far, far offset the physical discomfort, if there is any of the latter.

    But I will reserach this some more and try to bring a sample of disgruntled haredi women.

  43. Jewish Observer says:

    for all the frummies writing here, let me recount a story I witnessed from 20+ years ago with Rabbi and Mrs. Asher Arieli, he a magid shiur in MIr Yeshiva. It was erev shabbos about 2 hours before shabbos and a bunch of us bochurim and Rabbi and Mrs. Arieli were standing at the sherut stand to bnei berq in geulah. So a car pulls up ready to take us and the bochuurim start going through elaborate cheshbonos of how we would sit so as to avoid a man sitting next to a woman. When Rebbetzin Arieli (daughter of famed rosh yeshiva R’ Nachum Partzovitz) saw what was going on she rebuked them, saying something to the effect of “what are you guys doing?? it’s erev shabbos”

  44. aj says:

    Ms Schmidt, have you seen this:

    http://www.nrg.co.il/online/11/ART1/546/519.html

    I think explaining matters in terms of women’s empowerment is not going to suffice.

  45. Menachem Lipkin says:

    First Mehadrin buses, now mehadrin malls. Watch it and weep for clal Yisroel.

    http://www.nrg.co.il/online/11/ART1/546/519.html

  46. Loberstein says:

    This topic keeps on coming back with more and more comments. The State of Israel is not a religious state. The chareidim have to understand that most people,including most orthodox people don’t see things as they do. Naomi Ragan makes very valid points but her agenda is egalitarian feminist. I welcome a Judaism that is inclusive of her and of those women who actually want to sit in the back of the bus. We have to learn to live together in one country. Neither side will convince the other. We have to stop making personal attacts on those who have a different point of view as many have done to poor Mrs. Shear. She has been victimized by smug people who think they are G-d’s Cossacks. Live and let live.

  47. Rivka W. says:

    http://www.nrg.co.il/online/11/ART1/546/519.html

    Oy lanu!

    Attitudes like that are a very large part of why I am hesitant to move to Israel. This incredible polarization is tearing apart Klal Yisrael!

  48. Ahron says:

    >“First Mehadrin buses, now mehadrin malls. Watch it and weep for clal Yisroel.

    http://www.nrg.co.il/online/11/ART1/546/519.html

    Chareidi-only commercial centers… well there are already black-hat-only communities, so a “No-Shtreimel No-Service”–I mean, “Mehadrin”–shopping mall seems like a natural progression (though I pity the poor fool who leaves his hat at home. But maybe the guards can use biometric retinal scanners combined with periodic “Mehadrin” loyalty oaths to electronically authorize each shopper’s “Mehadrin” security credentials, and maintain a safe and pure all-“Mehadrin” environment.)

    Actually it’s great–the more we can eliminate the dreaded specter of OUTSIDE INFLUENCE (horrors!!!) the more we (and by “we” I mean each particular, delineated habitable geographic zone populated by subjects in possession of the “correct” ideology) can feel “empowered”. And that’s really the important thing, isn’t it? Empowerment…

    I mean gosh, who says isolation doesn’t produce maturity? On the contrary: now that we have a Land of Israel (captured for us by those worthless secular Zionists for whose sins we’re stuck in exile…) we can have all the glorious isolation we ever dreamed of. And isn’t tightly-sealed segregation what the Torah really demands from us? Well yes, of course: and best of all, it’s “empowering”.

    “A decade ago under the rubric of multiculturalism…” Multiculturalism indeed. And so, much of chareidi society issued itself permission to revert into a putatively sanctified “Mehadrin” solipsism that differs from secular and totalitarian cultures only in form, but not experience…or psychological origins.

    There is no end to the madness–really, there is clearly no inherent limit. And so this too (and the next “Mehadrin” innovation and the next) will be defended by those whose loyalty is not really to the Torah, but to the correct “team” of Jews. The passionate worship of this new Baal allows for no loose ends. What would our great rabbis of even 20 years ago have said about these strange “Mehadrin” compulsions? The truth is, almost nobody would have dared to propose it while they were still around–because to do so would really have been to spit at the Torah. (But we already know the answer to that one too: “times” have “changed”, “pritzus” is “everywhere”, “Eis la’asos La’Shem”, these new “hiddurim” are “necessary” to “preserve” our “kedusho”. And so there will be no limit…until the inevitable self-destruction fueled by a desperate mode of thought that proudly declares itself effete and unsustainable.)

  49. shalhevet says:

    “What about that fact that the papers report that women, including pregnant women, stand while there are empty seats among the men”
    I am sorry! I travel buses here in Jerusalem extensively, including several Mehadrin lines, and I never – ever – ever saw such a thing! Either people rearrange themselves on their own when noticing this, or someone asks them to and they do so, or they simply get up! This series of discussion is actually pulling me to a more positive feeling towards the mehadrin buses… The myths, closed-mindedness and anti-haredi approach of so many posters really stuns me. I don’t like the separation, but it’s really not so terrible as so many are making it out to be.

  50. Moshe Hillson says:

    “.. The myths, closed-mindedness and anti-haredi approach of so many posters really stuns me….” Comment by shalhevet.

    I can add a saying to that:

    “Anyone who is less religious than I is a heretic, anyone who is more religious than I is a fanatic.”

    Unfortunately, we see a lot of the both in and out of this thread – but there is one difference: Someone “far right” may ideologically reject broad-mindedness , while someone “to the left” might see himself as broad-minded while being no less a fanatic.

  51. mgard says:

    I’m a chareidi, and frankly, I’m rather noncommital about mehadrin buses. I haven’t found it makes a difference to me in any way, but that isn’t to say it hasn’t made a difference to others. I say, “Live and let live.”
    I decided to join this discussion for the first time because there are a few points that were not made by previous boggers that merit being said.
    1) Mehadrin buses were first introduced in Ramat Shlomo several years ago as a private company. Egged responded by negotiating to take over from the private company and opening their own mehadrin bus lines. Egged’s involvement is purely financial and they did it because they saw a demand which they decided to cater to.
    2) A vital point seems to have been totally ignored by all previous bloggers. I don’t know if this was a large part of the reason why Mehadrin buses were founded, but mehadrin buses certainly are effective in dealing with this problem — the problem of youths harassing girls on the bus. My cousin (baalas tshuva) told me she loved mehadrin buses because when she was younger, all kinds of jerks used to sit next to her and even touched her. This is non-existent on a mehadrin bus. My muscular son came home one day all bruised. He was traveling one night light on a bus and 4 youths were starting up with girls (I think they were all secular). The bus driver didn’t interfere, and these girls were in alarm. He chivalrously took on the 4 hoods and gave them a few souvenirs of the trip, receiving quite a few bruises in return. Harassment doesn’t occur in mehadrin buses. And here is an event that I experienced myself: I was waiting for the bus at the Har Chotzvim bus stop and I saw a thin religious girl weeping next to us. I asked her why she was weeping, and she said a man had been following her on the street and the bus. She had gotten off at this bus stop to evade him, but he had gotten off when he saw she had. She was afraid he would approach her. The man, who stood a distance away, had a threatening look on his face. The bus arrived, and me and another woman grabbed the girl’s arm and we boarded the back door, while the man threatening her boarded from the front. We formed a wall so the man couldn’t filter his way to the back. Needless to say, these kind of things never happen on a mehadrin bus. Do these things happen enough to justify mehadrin buses? I don’t know, but I have heard there are subway cars in Mexico and Japan which are designated “women-only” so it’s not just a Jewish issue.
    3) Concerning the problem of women being in the back, this is done everywhere in Judaism. Women sit in the gallery or the back of the shul while the men are in the front, that’s how it was in the Bais Hamikdosh too. It may be part of the concept of “Kvod bas melech pnima” — which is nonexistent in secular thinking and not that common in dati circles either. Women do not take public roles, they do not push themselves up to the front, they use their immense influence from the side and in a discreet way. You might have noticed that in rightwing and dati demonstrations, the youth including the girls are the most active, while the adults take a back seat to them. In chareidi demonstrations, there are never any girls or women. The adult men do it all, and on rare occasions, they may pull yeshiva students out of yeshiva to participate.
    This is not a sign of discrimination against women but rather recognition that the women’s fortress is her home and a woman’s field of action and her major efforts should be directed to creating a fortress of strength and stability for her family rather than competing in the public sphere. Hard for a secular or western-oriented person to accept this, but the strategy seems to work in having created a stable Jewish society and family life throughout the generations.
    4) One more point: Whenever implementing any endeavor for the public welfare, there were always be individuals that suffer. There is no such thing as 100% fairness and justice. The scales must be if the mehadrin buses are preferred and answer the needs of the majority of chareidim. If there are groups who are unhappy, or groups who feel they are getting a raw deal, that cannot take precedence over the needs of the majority. This results in the tyranny of the individual which ends up tearing apart society and decent society standards, as can be seen all over western society.
    5) I heard the reason why Kiryat Sefer decided not to use mehadrin buses is because most of the families in the city are young couples with lots of little children, and husband and wives must sit next to each other to take care of the kids.

  52. Calev says:

    If modesty is the consideration then mehadrin buses should be organised in the following way: 1. They must be clearly marked as mehadrin buses, perhaps painted a different colour from regular buses. 2. Men should enter at the back and sit at the back in seats that face the rear of the bus. 3. Women should sit at the front, facing forward. 4. The windows should be tinted so that the men can’t oggle female pedestrians.
    However, given that Rav Moshe Feinstein and others have stated that it’s permissible for observant men to use public transport in much more crowded New York it is difficult to see why such measures are necessary in Israel.

  53. Bob Miller says:

    The real power in Israel today is in the hands of a corrupt elite bent on making Israel an unholy land, a cosmopolitan paradise without Jewish content. The efforts of religious Jews to resist the encroachments of the elite’s way of life have to be understood in that context. Any instance of successful peaceful resistance against this encroachment can be viewed as empowering the religious Jews.

  54. Etana says:

    There is one line in the link of the video of the mehadrin mall in which a chareidi man states (translated) “The way the chiloni women dress offends us, this is why we have our own seperate communities”. If that is so, then that’s great- that is the reason that communities like Kiryat Sefer, Beitar, Telzstone, etc were created, and are pleasant and successful. However, the city of Bet Shemesh is one of over 70,000 people and the chareidim of Ramat Bet Shemesh Bet just plunked themselves down in the middle of this city that has had all types of people over the last 40 years and expect everyone to suddenly conform to their standards. It’s NOT as the man mentioned in the video, a “seperate, chareidi community”. I should know, I live there.

  55. Raymond says:

    It strikes me that what the problem here is not any given religious rule, but simply common courtesy. If a woman is sitting alone on the bus, whether she is near the front, middle, or back, then a man who does not feel comfortable sitting next to her, should sit somewhere else, or stand if necessary. If a man is already sitting down, and a woman comes into the bus and sits next to him, and he does not feel comfortable with that, then he should get up and move elsewhere, since it is he who does not feel comfortable. But this business of forcing woman to get up, or forcing them to the back of the bus, is extremely demeaning, and a desecration of G-d’s name. Is that what religous Jews want to be associated with?

  56. Menachem Lipkin says:

    From Bob Miller:

    “The real power in Israel today is in the hands of a corrupt elite bent on making Israel an unholy land, a cosmopolitan paradise without Jewish content.”

    True and False. True because, through our fractured disunity, we can’t pull it together enough to elect decent leaders. False because, the “real power” is in our hands. If all dati, traditional, and Jewishly minded people would put aside their petty differences, like the nonsense that is being discussed here, and vote in the true interests of the clal, things could be vastly different.

    If our brethren in the Diaspora would wake up from their spiritual slumber and return home it would just add to our “real power”.

    It’s much easier to blame that nebulous “elite” or to “resist” from the outside than to roll up ones sleeves and become part of the solution in a fair and constructive manner.

  57. Loberstein says:

    I had a discussion todfay at a Seminary and all of the girls felt that it is tzniyus, not segregation to sit in the back of the bus. One question that I would appreciate an answer. How does a bochur take a girl on a shiduch date if they have to sit in seperate parts of the bus?

  58. Baruch Horowitz says:

    “… Someone “far right” may ideologically reject broad-mindedness , while someone “to the left” might see himself as broad-minded while being no less a fanatic”

    This brings to mind a quote based on a paraphrase of Voltaire: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it”(incidentally, Voltaire made some very disparaging comments about Jews, and can not, personally, be considered a model of tolerance).

    I would like to see writers and bloggers, in general, being able to put themselves in the shoes of someone else, whether Satmar chassid or Reconstructionist rabbi even(or perhaps, especially) when making the case for their position. It doesn’t mean one needs to agree with the other party, but rather that one is able to understand, as much as possible, where the other side is coming from. Regarding various issues relating to charedie insularity, both sides disagree not only on the actual issues, but they also share the concern that “ if we give an inch, then they will take a mile”. In other words, there will be no end to additional stringencies or to additional leniencies.

    In this case, the non-charedi position sees the bus issue(I wasn’t able to download the video, so I don’t know what “mehadrin malls” are supposed to be) in the context of a number of other charedi tzniyus initiatives, which are viewed as conformist and non-individualistic. People—even some charedim—are concerned that there will be no end to initiatives that will continue to take away from both charedim and non-charedim’s autonomy. The charedi side sees the situation in context of creeping secularism, immodesty, and foreign influences, which infringe upon, and threaten the community’s way of observance. The various takkanos and initiatives are viewed as being eminently livable once one adjusts to them, and certainly reasonable in light of the circumstances.

    The following quotation, based on a speech on the topic of “advocacy journalism”(e.g. editorials and op-eds, investigative reporting, and alternative media) delivered at the Canadian Association of Journalists, would also seem relevant to bloggers advocating their positions:

    “ Can a journalist have a declared bias and still practice journalism in a professional manner? Yes. In fact you may be seen as even more credible if your perspective is acknowledged up front… *A good journalist must play devil’s advocate. You must argue against your own convictions.* (emphasis mine, BH) In an interview, you still have to ask the hard questions of possible heroes, the tough questions, even of the people you admire. You are not writing public relations for them and they will not be vetting your piece. You will be far more credible if you write with a critical edge. You cannot view your cause or community through rose-coloured glasses. “

  59. Ahron says:

    “My cousin (baalas tshuva) told me she loved mehadrin buses because when she was younger, all kinds of jerks used to sit next to her and even touched her…. I was waiting for the bus at the Har Chotzvim bus stop and I saw a thin religious girl weeping next to us…she said a man had been following her on the street and the bus.”

    Here’s a wild idea: In lieu of foisting insanity upon all of klal Yisrael… try teaching girls to defend themselves. Or is it just “not tzniusdik” for women to learn how to fight off an attacker? (BTW just five or six effective responses from women under threat would lead to a massive falloff in anti-female harassment and assaults.)

    “This is not a sign of discrimination against women but rather recognition that the women’s fortress is her home and a woman’s field of action and her major efforts should be directed to creating a fortress of strength and stability for her family rather than competing in the public sphere.”

    So then why should women be boarding buses at all?

    “Any instance of successful peaceful resistance against this encroachment can be viewed as empowering the religious Jews.”

    And so nothing bad can be done as long as it’s claimed in the name of “Team Torah”. There are few better conceivable recipes for the total destruction of Torah. The Baal of Empowerment is a jealous one indeed, but “Empowerment” isn’t worth selling your soul (well, it’s certainly not worth my soul). In any event, you’re dead wrong: The corrupt elites who rule Israel are not afraid of a self-segregating and self-obsessed haredi population–on the contrary, they’re thrilled with it. They’re terrified of intelligent, modern and sophisticated religious Jews coming to exert a profound (and natural) influence upon the entire society and shining light into all the dark corners.

    “How does a bochur take a girl on a shiduch date if they have to sit in seperate parts of the bus?”

    And who says it’s kosher to go on a date? Please mark my words: “Mehadrin” shidduch processes to come. There is no limit. (And there’s also a lot of money to be made).

  60. Bob Miller says:

    Ahron claimed, “The corrupt elites who rule Israel are not afraid of a self-segregating and self-obsessed haredi population—on the contrary, they’re thrilled with it.”

    The actual Chareidi population disturbs the elite into all types of repressive actions, police, budgetary, you name it—and has done so for years.

    As for “shining light into all the dark corners”, all the Orthodox groups do this, each in their own way.

  61. Jackie says:

    In criticizing Naomi Ragen and others who condemn the Haredi strictures on women intended to reduce “temptation” for men, Ms. Schmidt makes a special point of chastising Ms. Ragen for not recognizing that this is the same enticement as that of the little boy in Ms. Ragen’s novel whose cruel father tortures him by eating ice cream in front of him when it is too soon after the boy’s having eaten meat to partake. Are Haredi men “little boys” who have not learned to discipline their desires and impulses? In civilized societies do women have to wear burkas or sit in the back of a bus because men are little boys who cannot control themselves and their thoughts? Is that what spirituality and adherence to God’s laws teaches? How sad.

  62. Korah says:

    To the person who wanted a doctor’s note that sitting in the back of the bus could harm a fetus: when you are pregnant then you can talk. Pregnancy, which we can all agree is necessary to build our population, can be very difficult on the woman, whether or not there is a clear danger to the fetus. Some women are unfortunate enough to be nauseous throughout the pregnancy, and the bumpy, fume-filled ride at the back of the bus will definitely have short term harmful effects. If she must experience that regularly, those short term effects can add up to a big problem. As a woman who routinely lost weight while pregnant (and I was thin to begin with), I cannot imagine coping with such a situation and remaining moderately healthy.

  63. aj says:

    “I am sorry! I travel buses here in Jerusalem extensively, including several Mehadrin lines, and I never – ever – ever saw such a thing!Either people rearrange themselves on their own when noticing this, or someone asks them to and they do so, or they simply get up!! This series of discussion is actually pulling me to a more positive feeling towards the mehadrin buses… The myths, closed-mindedness and anti-haredi approach of so many posters really stuns me. I don’t like the separation, but it’s really not so terrible as so many are making it out to be.”

    That’s what the papers report (not just the Israeli papers – a Canadian journalist noted the same, even though the pregnant woman she interviewed was OK with the buses). As well, see this amazing story – the Haredi fellow who wrote it well before the event with Ms Shear writes that his pregnant wife had to stand (this is on a private mehadrin bus).

    http://bariveshema.blogspot.com/2006/05/mixed-seating-saved-my-life.html

    Note the prophesy of the emergence of a haredi Rosa Parks 🙂

  64. KHT711 says:

    “It strikes me that what the problem here is not any given religious rule, but simply common courtesy. If a woman is sitting alone on the bus, whether she is near the front, middle, or back, then a man who does not feel comfortable sitting next to her, should sit somewhere else, or stand if necessary. If a man is already sitting down, and a woman comes into the bus and sits next to him, and he does not feel comfortable with that, then he should get up and move elsewhere, since it is he who does not feel comfortable. ”

    Interstingly enough, this is just what generally happens. As a Jerusalem resident, the only time I ever saw any woman “forced” to get up was by a clearly disturbed youth, who probably would have done so to a man too (he likes having his own two seats).
    In addition, do the readers realize that no one is forced to take mehadrin buses either? Most lines are not mehadrin, and there are plenty of alternate ways to travel, even taxis. foot, etc. Remember “live and let live”? It goes two ways!

  65. Miriam Shear says:

    KHT711 writes: “In addition, do the readers realize that no one is forced to take mehadrin buses either? Most lines are not mehadrin, and there are plenty of alternate ways to travel, even taxis. foot, etc. Remember “live and let live”? It goes two ways!”

    Let’s keep in mind that the bus on which I was beaten was NOT a mehadrin bus. Nobody forced anyone to ride this non-mehadrin bus. Yet, the NON-mehadrin status of the #2 bus was insignificant to those who arrogantly feel justified in mutinizing a PUBLIC NON-MEHADRIN bus and imposing their will on others – even to the extent of beating those who do not submit to their tyranny. “Simple common courtesy” is a foreign concept to thugs. These thugs reinforce their sense of “entitlement” when others suggest that capitulation to their demands would have avoided the whole incident – thus the victims of THEIR abuse and THEIR mutiny and THEIR arrogance are considered equally guilty parties, as Rabbi Menken suggested in his condemnation of both the thugs as well as myself. And that is precisely why we will see more violent incidents – because their guilt is neutralized by the “guilt” of their victims’ refusal to capitulate to their thuggery and anarchy.

  66. Yael says:

    Egged is a PUBLIC bus company heavily subsidized by our tax shekels. It is inherently wrong to have any sort of separation on the publice lines which create difficulties for other passengers.
    I suggest private transportation companies, where people may choose to play by their rules.
    In no other country would the Haredim dare to request such special dispensations as separate bus lines or segreagated government offices. Shame on US for agreeing to such nonsense.
    I think that the quote from Naomi Regan’s book is a misplaced quote as women are not ice cream, and self control is the name of the game. Read a book.

  67. Michael says:

    Yael, what you are not recognizing (and Miriam Shear neatly sidesteps) is that Egged bought up the private lines you are talking about. They used to be private and Egged saw a good business and bought it.

    Egged does a very lousy job of marking the mehadrin lines, and leave it up to the passengers to enforce it. This leads directly to the problems.

    Let Egged sell off all the mehadrin lines if it doesn’t want to serve the market!

  68. Jewish Observer says:

    “Egged is a PUBLIC bus company heavily subsidized by our tax shekels”

    perhaps people who are exempt from taxes are similarly exempt from following this line of thinking

  69. Miriam Shear says:

    RE: #67 POST. Michael – nobody is sidestepping any issue. The issue is NOT that Egged bought up companies who WILLINGLY sold their lines to Egged. The issue is that those who have absolutely no ownership of non-mehadrin lines display a sense of arrogant entitlement to impose their chumras on other passengers. There are also taxi services available if a non-mehadrin bus is SO offensive to them that they can justify spitting, beating, and kicking a passenger who refuses to submit to their tyrannical demands.

  70. bag says:

    “Yael, what you are not recognizing (and Miriam Shear neatly sidesteps) is that Egged bought up the private lines you are talking about. They used to be private and Egged saw a good business and bought it.”

    They’ve instituted mehadrin seating on routes that were never served by private mehadrin buses. Your argument is a red herring.
    http://www.cross-currents.com/archives/2007/02/18/the-kidnapping-of-rosa-parks/#comment-83609

  71. Chaim says:

    This bus thing has gone entirely out of hand. I’ve ridden on the Mehadrin (non-egged bus) to Bet Shemesh for two years w/o any problems. The primary passengers on Mehadrin buses in Charedi areas are Charedim. Why must a system that has worked well for years be thrown out beacuse of one (admittedly disgsting but I suspect exaggerated) spat. It should definitely be condemned by the Rabbonim, but why throw the baby out with the bathwater?

  72. dovid says:

    “but why throw the baby out with the bathwater?”

    Why? In order to teach us to protest on the spot when we encounter an avlah. The person who publicly confirmed this incident related that “She tried to fight back and no one would help her. I tried to help, but someone was stopping me from getting up.” No matter how great the benefits of the Mehadrin bus, if we do not discipline the thugs within our camp, we don’t deserve it.

    That’s why.

  1. March 22, 2007

    […] This is the article that appeared last month on the JTA website. I discussed it here in cross-currents on Feb. 18 in “The Kidnapping of Rosa Parks.” At one point I wrote about women sitting in a separate section at the back of some buses in Israel: […]

  2. April 27, 2007

    […] Sitting here in Baltimore, I cannot claim any special access to information. I read the news, articles and comments from Israeli authors and commenters here on C-C, and receive an occasional private email—for example, a copy of Mrs. Shear’s original complaint. If my facts are wrong, please correct them, because from what I have read and discerned between the lines, what is being portrayed in the press is far from the truth. […]

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