Volume 53 Number 60
                    Produced: Fri Jan  5  6:52:41 EST 2007

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Anthropologist View of "Charedi" View of Bus Attack
         [Freda B Birnbaum]
Bus Segregation
         [Shoshana Ziskind]
A Cheredi View of the Bus Attack (2)
         [Eitan Fiorino, Frank Silbermann]
Response to Bus Attack (2)
         [SBA, Avi Feldblum]
Segregated Buses
         [Ari Trachtenberg]
Segregation and treatment of women
         [Leah Aharoni]
Women, Men on Buses
         [Sarah Beck]


From: Freda B Birnbaum <fbb6@...>
Date: Thu, 4 Jan 2007 08:54:11 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Anthropologist View of "Charedi" View of Bus Attack

Tzvi Stein, in his anthropologist-like view from the other side, asks us
to hold our emails as he is only describing what he sees.  Point taken;
I've studied a bit of anthropology.  I think he has described the
viewpoint accurately. However, when he says:

> These takanos are a good idea.  A previous terrorist attack on the
> same #2 bus line was linked to the mixture of men and women on buses.
> (He attributes this linkage to a prominent Israeli rav, whose name I
> prefer not to repeat, out of respect).


> I repeat... these are not my personal views, so please hold your emails!

The view of respect to this rav WAS Tzvi's view, so I reply:

Out of respect to whom?  To the views?  To the rav?  If the man wants
his views out there, he shouldn't be sheltered like this.  As to respect
for this sort of thing, well, YMMV.

And many thanks to Leah Gordon for her powerful piece in the same issue.

It's fine to ask us to understand them.  Let them try to understand us
for a change.

Freda Birnbaum
"Call on God, but row away from the rocks" (apparently literally necessary 
in some settings)


From: Shoshana Ziskind <shosh@...>
Date: Thu, 4 Jan 2007 08:33:53 -0500
Subject: Re: Bus Segregation

On Jan 3, 2007, at 5:57 AM,  Leah Aharoni  
<leah25@...> wrote:
> BTW, some of you might remember that 10 or 15 years ago a woman was
> assaulted on a private segregated Manhattan-Monsey bus for sitting on
> the men's side. That story created a lot of controversy too, but
> apparently things haven't changed much.

I wasn't aware of the controversy but I noticed that when they put up
that mechitza it actually can be worse for tsnius. One time I was
visiting a friend in KJ of all places and I took the Monroe bus.  There
is no way really to see if anyone is getting up and walking on the other
side of the mechitza and I bumped into men a few times!  Ironically if I
had been able to see them I would have been able to stay clear of
them. And this was one round trip bus experience. (and people weren't
davening) Otherwise, I personally find that having seperate seating with
one side women and one side men not to bad (without the assaulting
component!) The belems bus, OBM in Israel was extremely reasonable and I
took it a number of times to Yerushalyim and a couple of times to Bnei
Brak and never had a problem.  It had no mechitza but women on one side
and men on the other.  Maybe people who took it more often can remember
more problems but it worked out pretty decently IIRC.

-Shoshana Ziskind


From: Eitan Fiorino <AFiorino@...>
Date: Thu, 4 Jan 2007 08:58:18 -0500
Subject: RE: A Cheredi View of the Bus Attack

Tzvi Stein relayed a chareidi view of the bus attack, and while there's
plenty of fodder for criticism/discussion in what was posted, one point
in particular disturbed me:

>   - These takanos are a good idea.  A previous terrorist attack on
>   the same #2 bus line was linked to the mixture of men and women on
>   buses.  (He attributes this linkage to a prominent Israeli rav,
>   whose name I prefer not to repeat, out of respect).

I think when it comes to exposing idiocy and statements/behaviors that
are spiritually destructive and theologically incorrect, the communal
need of knowing which rabbis to avoid overrides kavod harav.  Thus, I
think on the contrary, one should not "hide out of respect" the name of
this Israeli rabbi who apparently claimed that a bus or busses were
blown up because of mixed seating.  Rather his name should be publicized
so that people of faith and common sense (here I am speaking of myself
and I hope others as well) will know to avoid him, and to insure that
none of their charitable contributions go to any institution with which
he is affiliated.  After all, I'm sure this person took great pride in
his brilliant Torah insight (or was he zocheh to a direct communication
from God?) that hakadosh baruch hu sent a suicide bomber to that s'dom
on wheels as a punishment for men sitting next to women, so your sense
of tzniut on his behalf is misplaced, particularly given the communal


From: Frank Silbermann <fs@...>
Date: Thu, 4 Jan 2007 10:48:41 -0600 (CST)
Subject: A Cheredi View of the Bus Attack

Tzvi Stein <Tzvi.Stein@...> reports on one Haredi's view (V53 N54);
>       - These takanas about tznius on buses were enacted by the gedolei
>       haDor, and thus all Jews are obligated to adhere to them.

But if the majority do not and never did adhere to the takanas, then (al
pi halacha) the takanas are nullified, are they not?

Indeed, most orthodox Jews worldwide (never mind most Jews in general)
do not segregate themselves by sex on buses.  At most, one could say
that the majority do so on certain routes for which the haredi
communities have made a deal with Egged with the acquiesce of the state
for the sake of maintaining Egged's monopoly in those neighborhoods.

The takanas could not not apply on any other Egged bus routes, as the
gedolei haDor would be halachly obligated to repeal them.

Frank Silbermann	Memphis, Tennessee	<fs@...>


From: SBA <sba@...>
Date: Fri, 5 Jan 2007 01:30:12 +1100
Subject: Re: Response to Bus Attack

From: Abbi Adest <>
> I think this violent incident is a direct consequence of corrupted
> halachic thinking, as were the violent riots in Yerushalayim
> protesting the gay parade, as were the massive coverups of sexual
> predators that are now coming to light.

You forgot to mention the sinking of the Titanic...

Let's bring some common sense into this discussion, rather than whip up
a lynching...

1) There has been no follow-up on this 'lady in th ebus' story at all,
thus at least suggesting that those blogs that claimed that the whole
story was 'lo haya velo nivra' may have more than a kernel of truth.

2) EVEN if it did happen - in which case I condemn the perpetuators no
less than anyone else here - there are hundreds (thousands) of buses
cruisng the cities of Israel daily.  There are tens (hundreds) of
thousands Charedi men travelling on these buses daily, yet such a story
pops up only once in a blue moon, clearly indicating that it is a

3) Again, if this story really happened, we have no idea about the
background of this violent passenger. The chances are that he could very
well be one of those crazy BTs who take matters too far (a la Baruch
Goldstein).  Whilst BH, the VAST majority of BT succeed in living
normal, decent and halachik lives, there are also a few (and most of us
know of them) who were a bit crazy before and just as crazy after
'seeing the light'.

To blacken the reputation of a entire community of hundreds of thousands
by using examples of the bahviour of some nutcases is unfair and wrong.

And then to make a ridculous statement that this "is a direct
consequence of corrupted halachic thinking" is simply being Motzi Shem
Ra and spouting pure sheker about the majority of observant Jews.

OTOH, I will withdraw everything I have written here, if you can show us
that the rabbinic leadership and Roshei Yeshivos encourage this kind of
behaviour. But until then I request that you refrain from accusing good
Jews of doing bad things.


From: Avi Feldblum <feldblum@...>
Date: Fri, 5 Jan 2007 
Subject: Re: Response to Bus Attack


I do not understand what you mean in item 1 above that there has been
"no follow-up" to the story, and that the whole thing is "lo haya velo
nivra". The women's name is well known, her first hand report of the
events is available, the Israeli papers reported on the event, the woman
filed a police report on the event and the incident is being used in a
legal challenge to the entire "mehadrin" bus system working it's way in
the Israeli court system. Whether the Miriam's account of the events are
100% accurate is not something that can be easily determined since non
of us were there, but having read the account, I would tend to believe

Your points 2 & 3 above are very correct. There is no question in my
mind that these type of events are not the norm. The problem as I see it
is that there is this group of chareidi "hooligens" that are doing
actions that reflect very poorly on the Chereidi community as a whole. 

It is late and I need to get this out, but I think there are two major
issues here. One is that while this may be an exception rather than the
rule, I think that what would be needed is a strong response from the
Charedi leadership that this type of activity is not permitted. I am
sure that if anyone described the events as known at this point to any
posek in the Chareidi community, he would say that there is no question,
the behaviour is "sh'lo k'halacha" - not what halacha dictates. One
cannot assult another person. But that is not enough. There must be a
more pro-active response from the leadership. It appears that they do
not see that as important.

A second issue, which I think does play into what Abbi posted, is that I
believe there has been a significant decline within the Charedi
community over the last 50 years of level of respect / kavod habreos for
the "other", whether the other is the non-Jew or the other is a
non-religous Jew or a religous Jew but of some different group. For the
majority, this may just be reflected as a lack of respect. But I think
it is this attitude that in the minority allows the growth of the
Charedi "hooligin".

Avi Feldblum


From: Ari Trachtenberg <trachten@...>
Date: Thu, 04 Jan 2007 09:04:34 -0500
Subject: Re: Segregated Buses

> From: Leah S. Gordon <leah@...>
> A personal example--when my husband and I were last driving in B'nei
> B'rak and had to ask directions, we pulled over and the two
> [black-hat] men whom I asked [nicely, in Hebrew] just kept walking
> until my husband leaned over and asked them instead.

I'd like to thank Leah for an excellent response to this very disturbing
incident.  However, I think that it's not really halachic misogyny at
work here.  I have gotten ignored a number of times along the charedi
streets of Jerusalem, despite being dressed modestly [as far as I know]
and being clearly male (although I do dress like the religious Zionist I
am, knitted kippah and all, and my wife will wear pants in public with

It seems to me that part of the issue is a classic political power
struggle, independent of halacha, in which several different groups are
fighting to gain full control of their own environments (broadly

Ari Trachtenberg,                                      Boston University
http://people.bu.edu/trachten                    mailto:<trachten@...>


From: Leah Aharoni <leah25@...>
Date: Thu, 04 Jan 2007 16:14:00 +0200
Subject: Segregation and treatment of women

I wholeheartedly agree with Leah Gordon's remarks about bus segregation
and treatment of women as transparent.

The danger of extra chumrot leading to insensitivity and kulot in a
other halachot is very clear. Chazal were aware of this danger and
explicitly warned men again chasidut shota - refuse to save a drowning
woman because he doesn't want to look at her.

I am sure many of us have witnessed men's silent refusal to vacate their
seats in favor of pregnant women or women with children, or their
refusal to help a women in need, just because women are treated as

Hesed is mitzva deoraita, as is the prohibition against embarrassing
people. Not talking to women is a chumra around a chumra (chazal
enjoined man not to talk TOO MUCH with women, but made no prohibition
against carrying a short business-like conversation where necessary).

Here are two stories to illustrate. While flying alone with two
children, I asked 2 haredi young men to change seats with me so that my
5 year old daughter could sit in the same row with me. They gave me the
hat treatment (despite my modest clothing) and said they don't

On a different trip (once again alone with two kids), while standing in
line for passport control at the Moscow airport a young Russian
policeman approached me and walked me to the beginning of the line (in
his mind a woman alone with children should be given preferential

I would hate to think that a Russian goy has better midos and better
upbringing than our own yungerlite!

Leah Aharoni


From: Sarah Beck <beckse@...>
Date: Thu, 4 Jan 2007 14:07:34 -0500
Subject: Women, Men on Buses

As long as we're brandishing scarves, we could be dropping them (in a
loving, Torahdik way) over the heads of the oglers.

In all seriousness, I would not have a problem, in practice!, with this
separate seating if it were men on one side, women on the other.

If anyone asks me my _personal_opinion_ on the practice of separate
seating outside of shul, I would reply that back South we actually do
learn about Jim Crow in elementary school, and apartheid in middle
school, and the Black train car case whose name I shamefully forget
(anyone?) in high school, and every schoolkid worldwide would hardly be
harmed by the broadening experience of studies like that. I think that
the apologists for the back of the bus would probably sing a different
tune if their own mothers, or they themselves, had seen "colored"
restrooms in their basically non-bigoted childhoods.

But these buses don't run through my neighborhood, so I am hard put to
effect change from within. But do I shrink from calling it Jim Crow?
Nope. If Egged wants to perpetrate it from without, I hardly have
standing, from the cozy confines of the Interborough Rapid Transit, to
do anything about it.



End of Volume 53 Issue 60