Carnivals, Segregated Buses, Sidewalks, and Swine Flu

I wrote a guest post for the Welcoming Olim blog on Writing Checks in Israel. Check out the rest of the blog for tips on health funds, ulpan, national insurance, and more.

The Jerusalem Post reports on the legal battle against public buses that require women to sit in the back:

The Transportation Ministry delivered the conclusions of the committee report on gender-segregated public bus-lines, known as ‘Mehadrin’ buses, to the High Court of Justice Tuesday morning.

According to the report, the segregation itself is not legal, but passengers may voluntarily segregate themselves if they so chose.

I can’t remember who pointed out that haredi women who object to segregated buses are not always in a position to protest. As a democracy, Israel has an obligation to protect the rights of these women. Democracy doesn’t mean that the majority decides, as the expense of everyone else. No one can decide where someone should sit on a public bus.

Here is a video about the dispute (Thanks to Religion and State in Israel).

For some people, gender-segregated buses aren’t enough.  The Jerusalem Post reports:

Yoel “Yoelish” Kraus, the kambatz, or “operations director” for the Eda Haharedit organization, was released to house arrest on Monday after being arrested the previous evening for assaulting a haredi woman who refused to move to the other side of the street in the capital’s Mea She’arim neighborhood, police said.

On a lighter note (or not) Jameel shares the New York City Board of Health’s swine flu prevention efforts in the Orthodox Jewish community:

Rafi continues to follow news of the “Burqa Lady,” the hyper-modest mom of many in jail for child abuse. Now she and her lawyers are petitioning the Red Cross because of her prison conditions.

Here’s some good news: Mimi of Israeli Kitchen hosts her first Kosher Cooking Carnival, with beautiful pictures and tasty recipes.

Finally, ArtzeinuBlog hosts the Aliyah Edition of Haveil Havalim, the Jewish/Israeli blog carnival.


  1. there was a woman who was physically assaulted during a bus ride, for not moving to the back of the bus. The driver did nothing to stop the assault or protect the woman.

  2. Despite being taken for chareidi by some, I don’t at all agree with the notion of women in the back of the bus. I don’t know how this got started and why it continues.

  3. its quite an indictment of our society when basics such as freedom to sit where we like and washing our hands are seen as foreign conceps to anyone, much more so to academics who spend their days studying.

  4. Thanks for the update about the segregated buses.

  5. Kayza Zajac says

    I don’t really think that it’s fair to characterize the Burqa Lady as “the hyper-modest mom of many in jail for child abuse.” While she undoubtedly abused her kids, there was nothing “modest” about her, despite all the covering she wore.

  6. After living outside Israel for several years I came back for a visit and got on a bus not knowing there were segregated buses within Jerusalem. I sat down in the front in an empty row (i.e. not sharing a row or 4 seats with a man) not thinking before a man across the aisle spoke to me and told me to sit at the back of the bus. Had I know about this bus situation I would not have gotten on the bus. There is a fine line between actively entering a place to cause conflict/of being sensitive to your surroundings i.e. not wearing short sleeves in Mea Shearim and completely losing all self respect. I was embarrassed but there was no way I was going to do the walk of shame to the back of the bus like it was the SOuth in the 1960’s. There was also no space in the women’s sections but plenty in the men’s. I calmly told him that I was not happy to move and if he felt strongly about it he could get off the bus. He chose to ignore me and that was fine with me. It was cold and snowy outside and if his convictions couldn’t withstand that then he couldnt have care all that much. I have no problem with mechitzah’s in shuls but a bus is not a place of worship and men have to be able to learn how to get along with the other 50% of the planet without freaking out, especially on a National bus company.