Volume 53 Number 72
                    Produced: Thu Jan 11  5:35:04 EST 2007

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Back of the bus, remembered
         [Sarah Beck]
         [Rabbi Meir Wise]
Buses and Judaism
         [Stu Pilichowski]
Bussing - why the outcry?
         [Carl Singer]
Response to Bus Attack
Segregated buses (2)
         [<ERSherer@...>, Noyekh Miller]
Segregated Buses (2)
         [Ari Trachtenberg, Janice Gelb]
Segregated Buses -- A Question
         [Orrin Tilevitz]


From: Sarah Beck <beckse@...>
Date: Tue, 9 Jan 2007 14:53:45 -0500
Subject: Back of the bus, remembered

Ari Trachtenberg writes:

>Sorry...I don't find any meaning in this statement. On what basis is it
>wrong [segregating buses by sex]? Right/wrong doesn't exist in a
>vacuum...if this violates some halachic principles, our tradition, or
>the like, please make this clear. Otherwise, what you *feel* is wrong,
>others might not...and it is not clear to me on what basis you would
>impose your own feelings on others.

1) In the North Carolina remark, Freda was referring not to sex
segregation, but to segregation by race.

2) (Freda's and) my point is that sex segregation on public buses is
tantamount to racial segregation. No, we are not talking about shul or
other Jewish contexts (mikveh, classroom, etc.), and certainly not

3) Where am I coming from? (Before you protest, see 4) below.) I was
born and raised in the American South. This has made me makpid on any
hint of Jim Crow. U.S. law has clearly indicated that separate is not
equal in public, i.e., separate facilities for different races do not
mean that all are being equally, or equitably, provided for. I do not
know the case law, but I am fairly sure that provisions preventing
gender discrimination are also in place (Citadel, etc.), restrooms

4) Yes, 3) deals with secular law and not halacha, BUT I feel that an
egalitarian approach to public space is a value worth supporting in a
secular democracy. If there are specific halachic prohibitions against,
say, mixed seating on transportation, then certainly the Israeli
government should take these into account when setting policy.  But
Israel is a secular democracy with citizens of all races and
religions. You may argue that halacha, as you see it, applies to all
Jews, but should, say, Arab Israeli Christians be forced to abide by
Jewishly-inspired bus seating? The rabbanut's rules on civil status
don't apply to them--why should bus seating?

5) Perhaps the proponents of gender-segregated bus seating will now
start working on breaking Egged's monopoly and establishing private bus
companies in their neighborhoods. Certainly this would mean a parnasah
for a lot of people right there in the community.

Kol tuv,
Sarah Beck

P.S.: In the immortal words of one Reb Zimmerman, my eighth
cousin-in-law to be by way of Kurenets, Vilna Gubernya:

I was out there paintin' on the old woodshed
When a can of black paint [or was it a scarf?] fell on my head.
I went down to scrub and rub,
But I had to sit in the back of the tub.
Cost a quarter! Half-price!


From: <Meirhwise@...> (Rabbi Meir Wise)
Date: Wed, 10 Jan 2007 07:40:08 EST
Subject: Re: Buses

Having just returned to London after a month in Israel on the Ramat
Gan/Bnei Brak border, I can testify that I sat on the buses next to my
wife or daughter and no-one raised an eyebrow.

I was brought up (in Manchester) to stand up for a lady on the bus
(Derech Eretz kadma laTorah) although as I am now a grandfather of two
this is becoming increasingly difficult.

Rabbi Meir Wise, London


From: Stu Pilichowski <cshmuel@...>
Date: Wed, 10 Jan 2007 10:52:40 +0000
Subject: Buses and Judaism

I've held back my yetzer (not sure which one) from writing until now.

Simply put: I can't believe the correspondence the last few volumes on
mail-jewish. This is Judaism?! This is what HKBH wants us to dwell on?
I've brought it up before, but it seems that fifth volume of Shulchan
Aruch has been excised from our brains and culture.

The few stories re-told concerning Rabbonim acting in a mentschlich way
have been turned into the extra-ordinary-Gadol stories. My goodness. A
few outlandish individuals turn us into uncivilized morons?!?! I don't
think so and I hope not.

Stuart Pilichowski
Mevaseret Zion


From: Carl Singer <casinger@...>
Date: Wed, 10 Jan 2007 07:10:22 -0500
Subject: Bussing - why the outcry?

> We also know that until quite recently, the major leaders of Israeli
> haredi society had no such problem - and indeed used the buses
> themselves. This suggests that the problem is not the halachic issue -
> but the transforming of social norms into halachic norms.  As many of
> us perceive the social norms as bigotry, one is transforming bigotry
> into a halachic norm - which is a tremendous halachic problem.

If I might again snip a piece of the discussion and comment on it.

Why the current furor (not about the despicable attack, but the busing 
issue, itself)  -- consider the political dimensions -- would it be safe 
to say that everything is Israel is political?  -- If so, this is 
another surrogate battlefield (a Spanish Civil War,  so to speak) among 
Charedi and non-religious.  

If you accept  this viewpoint, then no "mechanical" solution will work 
-- sitting front / back / side-by-side, facing front / back or head 
buried in a gemora, with or without curtains or whatever.  In a power 
struggle people do not seek solutions, only issues to escalate and  
lever for power.  

To exaggerate  (but not too much) if tomorrow morning all buses had 
mechitzas -- a new controversy would arise about same-sex bus stops -- 
after all there are women waiting for buses and the men can see them 
(you're not suggesting men look away, are you?)

Carl Singer


From: SBA <sba@...>
Date: Tue, 9 Jan 2007 01:57:53 +1100
Subject: Re: Response to Bus Attack

From: Bruce Abrams
>  There are several things that deeply disturb me about SBA's reply.
> First things first, when he suggests that even if the story happened as
> reported (the implication clearly being that he doubts the veracity of
> the report),

Correct. (Until proven otherwise.)

> such a story pops up only once in a blue moon, clearly indicating that
> it is a rarity."  I'm curious as to what the definition of a "rarity"
> is.  Are we talking about once a week, once a month or perhaps "only"
> a couple of times a year?

I can't remember the last time that even that unlovely Haaretz had an
article about Charedim beating up female passengers?  You can be sure
that (true or otherwise) any story which can show charedim in a negative
light, would have been featured.

> Does the acceptability of such an act changes if it occurs "only"
> rarely.

No, of course not. You missed the poiint completely.  All the
charedi-bashing here and elsewhere resulting from this woman's story,
insinuates that this is a 'maaseh bechol yom'.  It isn't. And it is a
hotzo'as shem ra on a huge community of good Jews to portray it any
other way.

> It seems to me that in a Torah observant society, only a zero
> tolerance policy regarding assault can possibly be permitted to exist.
> There is simply no way to justify the assault that occurred on the
> bus.

I agree 100%.  And show me a single rav or lay-leader in the charedi
community who says otherwise.

> If a misinterpretation of Halakha leads to such a situation even "only
> rarely", shouldn't we demand a takana to ensure that such a situation
> can never occur?

Who mentioned any halachah here?  I am simply looking for proof that it
ever happened.

> It's his last point, though, that I find the most troubling.  The
> actions by large segments of the Hareidi community, both those
> discussed above as well as the more passive transgression through the
> failure to condemn those actions, leads to the inescapable conclusion
> that such actions are in fact the result of "corrupted Halakhik
> thinking."

Let me repeat (just in case you missed it the first time):

Those who complain about Rabbonim "refusing to condemn" seem to forget
that Lo ro'isi eino rayeh...Just because YOU haven't heard of a
condemnation, does not mean that it hasn't happened.

Indeed it has. Exactly as required - strictly forbidding all acts of
violence against persons or property - no matter what 'issur' or 'sin'
has been committed - and issued by no less than the Bedatz of the Edah
Charedis.  See http://tinyurl.com/so56l



From: <ERSherer@...>
Date: Tue, 9 Jan 2007 12:51:51 EST
Subject: Re: Segregated buses

      Sorry ... I don't find any meaning in this statement.  On what
      basis is it wrong [segregating buses by sex]?  Right/wrong doesn't
      exist in a vacuum ... if this violates some halachic principles,
      our tradition, or the like, please make this clear.  Otherwise,
      what you *feel* is wrong, others might not ... and it is not clear
      to me on what basis you would impose your own feelings on others.

    It is wrong when it is imposed upon the premise that one of the
parties is inferior to the other.

From: Noyekh Miller <nm1921@...>
Date: Tue, 09 Jan 2007 19:30:56 -0500
Subject: Segregated buses

Perets Mett takes umbrage at a remark by Meir Shinnar.

> I am not sure how this reads to others, but to me it seems to be
> describing chareidim who do not wanted to be jammed between persons of
> the opposite gender as bigots.

Perets is changing the subject.  Presumably no one enjoys being jammed
up against others in a bus or subway and all of us who value the
ordinary norms of decency and inviolable personal space share his
distaste for mob scenes.  But it's also pretty basic that we have no
right to expect a public utility to coerce others to comply with our
values in that regard by excluding some people (but not other people)
from our neighborhood.  Such discrimination can best be described as
institutional bigotry.  Haredi men have a perfect right to shun contact
with most women but they have no right whatsoever to demand of a secular
democratic society--a society by definition dedicated to equal rights
under the law--that its institutions and regulated facilities be in any
way involved in enforcing their wishes.  The shunning must be done on
their nickel or pruta, not that of the society at large.

Noyekh Miller

From: Ari Trachtenberg <trachten@...>
Date: Wed, 10 Jan 2007 09:45:44 -0500
Subject: Re: Segregated Buses

> From: Risa Tzohar <risa.tzohar@...>
> The halacha says that men aren't allowed to "see the ladies"? Always?
> Only on busses? On dry land? Out-of-doors? Indoors? In their own
> homes?  In other's homes?

This is a very interesting question ... this type of attitude is further
exemplified by "al tarbeh sicha im haisha ... kal vahomer beshet havero"
[loosely translated, "don't increase discussion with the wife ... a
forteriori with the wife of a friend", Avot 1:5].  It seems to me that
this establishes a very non-Western relationship between husband and
wife in traditional Judaism ... a sort of utilitarian symbiotic
arrangement for the physical propagation and support of the family.
Within this context, an almost complete segregation by sex hardly seems
unreasonable (although I don't personally practice anything of the sort

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

From: Janice Gelb <j_gelb@...>
Date: Tue, 9 Jan 2007 16:20:33 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Re: Segregated Buses

Perets Mett <p.mett@...>
> I take particular exception though that such a view might be
> propounded on a list which is supposed to reflect halachic norms. I
> have yet to be persuaded that any rov would seek to find a heter for
> men and women to be jammed together in the way that happens frequently
> on public transport.

The problem is upon whom the burden falls to meet this haredi
requirement. If the haredim have a personal requirement not to sit next
to people of the opposite gender, then it is up to *them* to avoid such
a situation. It should not be up to people for whom this is not a
requirement to be inconvenienced or feel demeaned because of it (and
certainly not to the extent of physical violence). If public transpor-
tation is a problem for them, then the haredim need to come up with
strategies to avoid the problem (walk, take taxis or sherutim together,
ride public buses when they're not likely to be crowded, buy vans as a
community and carpool or ride-share, etc.) They should not expect public
transportation open to all members of the public to cater to this



From: Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...>
Date: Wed, 10 Jan 2007 03:37:01 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Segregated Buses -- A Question

Around 25 years ago a broadside appeared in New York City banning
God-fearing Jews from using mass transit because of tzniyus issues.
Mayoral aides were upset, among other reasons because the city doesn't
need more cars on the street, and set out to defuse the issue.  Today
charedim use mass transit, and I doubt all are followers of Rav Moshe.
Does anyone know who was responsible for the broadside and how the issue
was resolved?


End of Volume 53 Issue 72