Volume 53 Number 75
                    Produced: Fri Jan 12  6:04:23 EST 2007


Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Bigotry and Halacha
         [SBA]
Bus Business
         [Batya Medad]
Bus customs
         [Yisrael Medad]
The bus stituation
         [Meir Shinnar]
Heter for Men and Women to be Jammed Together
         [SBA]
Response to Bus Attack
         [Lawrence Feldman]
Segregated Buses (5)
         [Bernard Raab, SBA, Chana Luntz, Janice Gelb, Perets Mett]


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From: SBA <sba@...>
Date: Thu, 11 Jan 2007 03:19:09 +1100
Subject: Bigotry and Halacha

From: Meir Shinnar <chidekel@...>
>>I think that this is indeed your problem.  What our rabbonim call
>>halacha - you call bigotry.

> So far, no one has cited a single, main stream posek of stature
> who has said that segregated buses are required

Correct. I used a wrong description.  But as I wrote in another post it
could come under "ikka darka achrina" - if men have the opportunity not
to be exposed that closely to inappropriately dressed women.  (Anyone
who has been in Israel - just like anywhere else in summer, should
understand why charedi men prefer separation of the sexes on busses.)

Some may also claim that once the separated busses have been introduced
- it may fall under the rubric of 'makom shenahagu bo issur' - which may
not be altered. I'll leave it to the rabbonim on this list to pasken on
that.

SBA

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From: Batya Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Wed, 10 Jan 2007 17:36:06 +0200
Subject: Re: Bus Business

All this correspondence on the thread of "ladies in the back--where
there are less seats--buses" has finally enlightened me why, when there
are crowds to get into buses and other treasures, the people who push
into me the most are chareidi men.  Yes, it's true, and apparently the
reason is that since they "don't look at females" they just consider me
invisible.  That's why they push into me and the other women.

I'm serious, and I wonder how many others who have been writing so
enthusiastically on the topic actually travel on buses, especially here
in Israel.  Being "carless," (sans car,) I'm an expert.  I'm also old
enough to no longer be surprised when people get up and give me their
seats.  Lots of people graciously do.  Females of all ages,
"persuasions" and dress codes and most men, even some Arabs on Jerusalem
lines like the 6.  The only group which never has, unless my advanced
age caused some senility, happens to be chareidi males.

That's a first person report from the front line.
Batya Medad
http://shilohmusings.blogspot.com/          
http://me-ander.blogspot.com/ 

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From: Yisrael Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Wed, 10 Jan 2007 21:51:59 +0200
Subject: Bus customs

It is not unusual to ride a regular bus line in Jerusalem (say 18, 6, 4)
and see a religious man or woman standing while there is an empty seat
nearby occupied by a person of the other gender.  The self-imposed
custom by some religious people of not sitting next to a person of the
other gender is not limited to buses riding through Haredi territory.  I
have, on more than one occasion got out of my seat for a woman to find
that the observant person next to me got up also so as not to sit next
to a woman.

What is bothersome, I feel, is when a man will sit on the aisle seat and
not permit a woman to sit next to him, not forcibly I hasten to add, but
simply by sitting there and keeping his face in a book.  After I caught
on to what they were doing, I have found myself next to the window but
if a woman is standing, will get out and then that really forces the
other observant fellow to stand as now he has no excuse not to rise.

Yisrael

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From: Meir Shinnar <chidekel@...>
Date: Wed, 10 Jan 2007 10:27:59 -0500
Subject: The bus stituation

RE Sternglantz
>Let me start by saying that I've never regarded the notion of
>separation of the genders (in any Orthodox Jewish context) as bigotry
>or sexism or parallel to illegal segregation of the races.

The separation of the sexes in Orthodoxy used to be event based - with a
justification of the separation based on the particular event - eg,
davening requires a mechitza.  There is also an attempt at separation to
prevent immorality at some affairs - where that depended on the affair.
The question of how far this second degree of separation is required is
a matter of some dispute, but it the separation was not universal.

However, what we are seeing the bus dispute and discussion around it is
a completely separate matter - essentially an attempt to create as an
ideal two separate worlds, where men don't have any contact with women -
and even avoid seeing them - outside of the home.Some of the discussion
focused on Mehadrin buses, where the norm is that the women on the bus
are dressed modestly, and even there the issue is raised that you want
to avoid even seeing the women.  This, therefore, can not be attributed
to the issue of the immodest dress of the general world.  Instead, it is
a radical remaking of the community.

This attempt is, IMHO, without precedent in the halachic world as a norm
for the entirecommunity.  It does raise serious issues of sexism and
bigotry - especially, as formulated, the separation is normally at the
expense of the women - and casts a cloud on those of us who wish to
defend more classical halachic forms of separation as not being bigoted
or sexist.

Meir Shinnar

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From: SBA <sba@...>
Date: Thu, 11 Jan 2007 03:16:46 +1100
Subject: Heter for Men and Women to be Jammed Together

From: Samuel Groner
> Perets Mett wrote "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."

Interesting. OTOH, the Satmar rebbe zt'l, when once seeing the
conditions of the NY subway during rush-hour, commented that he had no
doubt that if this would have been in the times of Chazal, they would
have banned such travel.

SBA 

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From: Lawrence Feldman <lpf1836@...>
Date: Thu, 11 Jan 2007 15:10:59 +0200
Subject: re: Response to Bus Attack

In digest no 72, SBA writes:
> 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.

The event in which a woman was physically assaulted was, fortunately, an
isolated incident, but judging from my daughter's experiences,
harassment of non-haredi women by haredim on buses is frequent,
widespread, and accepted.

We live in Ramat Modi'in (Hashmonaim), a DL yishuv that's serviced by
the Superbus line between Kiryat Sefer and Jerusalem. My adult daughter,
who takes this bus on a regular basis, is routinely hassled regarding
this seating issue. Typically, the main instigator is given moral
support and vocal encouragement from many others on the bus, both men
and women. She recently had a similar experience on an Egged bus
originating in Jerusalem's Ramot neighborhood.

In the most outrageous incident, a haredi man on the Kiryat Sefer bus
pestered and threatened my daughter, and when this proved unsuccessful,
he went up to the driver and loudly demanded that the bus not proceed
until she had moved to the back. And he only desisted when the driver,
an Arab, threatened him with physical violence unless he sat down.

I find it inconceivable that there are those who would seemingly define
this behavior as 'mehadrin.'

Lawrence Feldman

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From: Bernard Raab <beraab@...>
Date: Thu, 11 Jan 2007 16:01:47 -0500
Subject: Re: Segregated Buses

>From: Janice Gelb
>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.

Not long ago one of the Jewish newspapers in New York reported the
situation in one of the local Yeshivas: It seems the the windows in some
of the classrooms faced onto a building which was occupied by a group of
women, and the talmidim were totally distracted from their studies by
their observation of the women. There was no indication that the women
were doing anything out of the ordinary, except that the women's windows
did not have shades or blinds. Finally, one of the Roshei Yeshiva sent a
delegation to the women requesting that they install such shades or
blinds and keep them closed during school hours. The tone of the article
was that this was a perfectly reasonable request. There was no
indication that the Yeshiva had given any consideration to installing
such shades in the classrooms!

Bernie R.

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From: SBA <sba@...>
Date: Thu, 11 Jan 2007 03:16:05 +1100
Subject: Segregated Buses

From: Meir Shinnar <chidekel@...>

> ... We also know that until quite recently, the major leaders of
> Israeli haredi society had no usch 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.

Or maybe because of the priztus fashions that have become more and more
prevalent. There was a time when even non-religious women dressed with
far more tzenius.

And also because the charedi tzibbur is much larger now than it was in
the past. They feel that they too can now make a few demands.

SBA

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From: Chana Luntz <chana@...>
Date: Wed, 10 Jan 2007 17:41:49 -0000
Subject: Re: Segregated Buses

> David I. Cohen V53 N68:
> Actually it has been answered quite a few times.  Men at the back can
> still see the ladies, unlike when they are seated in the front.

I confess, leaving aside all of the other issues, I just do not
understand this l'metzius.  If a man gets on the front, pays the driver,
and then turns down the isle to look for a seat - unless he walks down
the isle backwards, it seems to me that he will get a great view of the
women at the back of the bus, all of whom are facing forwards and
towards him.  On the other hand, if the men's section were to be at the
back, and he got on the back door, which is usually placed not at the
back of the bus, but somewhat in front of the back seats, he would
naturally turn towards the back of the bus to look for a seat, and hence
not see the women at all.  And once he found a seat, even though he
might be facing forwards, he would have the seat in front of him in his
direct view, it being really rather difficult to see over the seat back
in your average bus to see who is sitting directly in front of you, not
to mention several rows in front of you.  And at the very very most he
might be able to see the very top of a sheitel if he looked up (assuming
we are talking about a tall woman) because the seats themselves act and
pretty good barriers.  And as for other women getting on the front and
walking to the front seats, you do have to make something of an effort
to look down the isle if you want to see who is coming down several rows
in front of you.  It therefore seems to me that, if you posit a woman
who is immodestly dressed on a bus with separate seating, if anyting it
may be more likely that a man will end up viewing her if she is in the
back than if she is in the front.

Regards
Chana

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From: Janice Gelb <j_gelb@...>
Date: Wed, 10 Jan 2007 16:01:22 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Re: Segregated Buses

Risa Tzohar <risa.tzohar@...> wrote:
> 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?

In answer to how far some people are taking this, and to my mind
evidence of a change in halachic fervor to a new stringency that does
not appear to be called for in normative halacha as it has been
practiced, see the following article about a large ultra-Orthodox
community that has moved to Beit Shemesh from Mea Sheraim due to lack of
housing.

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3330848,00.html

Excerpted:

After separating the sexes in every possible place, from beaches to
busses, the ultra-Orthodox community is taking a further step in its
quest for "disengagement."  The sidewalks on one of the main streets in
the ultra- Orthodox neighborhood of Beit Shemesh have been divided ^
one for men and one for women. [snip]

Now their modesty initiatives are reaching new heights.  There are
several synagogues in the Nachala Menucha neighborhood where men flock
to pray. The problem is that while they head towards their place of
worship they encounter women taking their children to the adjacent
health clinic. [snip]

Women are permitted to walk on one side of the sidewalk while men on the
other. Signs have been posted on the men's side of the street
instructing women to leave the sidewalk and to cross over to their side:

"Women are instructed to go to the other sidewalk, not to pass by the
synagogue, and not to dawdle on the sidewalk leading to the synagogue."

The sign includes an arrow directing women to the other side of the
street. To add fuel to the fire, during certain hours of the day a
synagogue custodian is stationed outside to make sure the rules are
adhered to.

-- Janice

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From: Perets Mett <p.mett@...>
Date: Thu, 11 Jan 2007 13:30:55 +0000
Subject: Re: Segregated Buses

Several posters have assumed that the rear seats of a bus are less
desirable than the front seats. I wonder whether they travel by bus.
Given a free choice (which isn't often available) I much prefer the rear
seats, where I am much less likely to be disturbed by passengers
walking//pushing past, than the front seats, where there is continual
traffic.

Perets Mett

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End of Volume 53 Issue 75