Haredi Women Advised to Sit on a Separate Bench from Immodestly Dressed Women

Neve Yaakov: Immodest and Modest Women Asked to Sit Separately

Neve Yaakov: Immodest and Modest Women Asked to Sit Separately

According to the religious Zionist weekly Matzav Haruach, the following sign appeared in a playground in the haredi neighborhood of Neve Yaakov in Jerusalem:

According to the suggestion of our teacher the great rabbi H. Kanievsky, women are requested as follows, to divide seating in the city according to groups of women. Women dressed appropriately (wide clothes, a properly covered neck, a modest scarf [MiI: to cover hair]) will sit on separate benches. Women dressed immodestly [bepritzut] Heaven forbid, (tight clothes/open collar/bandana) will sit by themselves. And in this merit the women [MiI: there’s no question as to which women, even though the wording is vague] will merit viable offspring, a comfortable living, and true comfort [nachat] from their children.

Notice that the suggestion is not directed at women who wear pants, show cleavage, or (married women) who leave their hair uncovered. The target appears to be women who more or less follow the rules, but fall from the community standard or the standard of whoever wrote the sign. There is even a subtle dig at wigs, as they are not mentioned in the description of modest clothing. Wigs are verboten in more modest circles.

Somehow I don’t think ostracizing women in the park is going to make anyone start dressing more modestly. And the implication of this sign—that a woman who wears a bandanna is contaminating someone who wears a modest scarf—is scary. We should be glad that children of prutzot are still allowed to play in the park with the children of righteous women.


An Uninspiring Letter to the Women of Beit Shemesh

VozIzNeias: Jerusalem Home Tznius Campaign (thanks to Joel Katz for the link)


  1. I realize I am pretty low on the totem poll when it comes to learning and holiness compared to haredi rabbeim, but it seems pretty awful to tell women that they will have healthier babies by being mean to women who are making a genuine effort to comply with halacha. How can men who dedicate themselves to studying how G-d wants us to behave instruct their followers to act in such a cruel manner?! The disconnect would be laughable if it wasn’t so sad.

  2. Eeeek! Who knew that diversity was contagious! On a serious note, I think that if the chareidi world on the whole approached their differently-frum counterparts in a more accepting way, some of the chareidi kids who struggle within the confines of that framework would be able to find a place in, say, an RZ environment. In general, I feel like seeing the scope and spectrum of frumkeit is a benefit. What a shame that a takanah went out so much to the contrary.

  3. If you ever saw the Bette Davis movie Jezabel, this type of ostracism is shown most effectively at a ball. The heroine decides to flout convention and get back at her fiance for what she saw as a slight by wearing a red gown when all unmarried women are expected to wear only white. He stoically leads her to dance. Though she is dying of mortification, he refuses to cease dancing. One by one the couples depart from the dance floor until they are the only ones on the floor, and she feels completely humiliated.

  4. I doubt it is from any normal charedi rabbi. Probably from the Neturei Karta type..

  5. Ita, Rav Kanievsky is a pretty mainstream charedi rabbi. Nothing NK about him.

    Either someone “spoke” in his name or these chicks are making it up.

    Bleh. These people turn my stomach.

  6. Notice that it’s a “suggestion” by Rav K. and not a ruling. My guess is that someone took something he said and embellished it quite a bit.

  7. <>
    absolutely pathetic……

  8. I really wonder if this is just someone who twisted a Rav’s words and made it like this.. I doubt it was a Kol Koreh or something.

  9. What gets me is that the modern orthodox or dati leumi are considered unworthy to the point of not sitting next to them on the park bench, but when it comes to tzedaka collection, those more modern areas are the first areas they canvas.

  10. Laura, the sign may be targeting baalot teshuva (newly observant Jews) or even haredi women and not modern Orthodox. Although the bandanna reference does call modern Orthodox to mind.

  11. Do not be confused, this is not about modesty; it is about controlling women. In the same way that rape is not about sex, but about power and control. This is the Jewish world’s way of slipping down the slope into a taliban society. These Rabbis don’t want women having any power, legal rights or role that they (the rabbis) do not govern.

    • I say this as a person of faith that I find it ofensive that when these kinds of forms mysogyny takes place in a secular world, it’s horrendous and wrong but when it happens within Christianity, Islam or Judaism, then it’s freedom of religious expression. I completely agree with you that like rape and any other kind of violence against women, this is about controlling and disempowering women and nothing more.

  12. Ariela, That is sooo not true.. That is a warped view of tznius!
    Tznius in essence is to treat a woman like a treasure. Would you keep a million dollar jewel out in the open for all to take ??? Same here..

  13. I just thank HaSham that I have “viable”, beautiful, children that bring me more comfort than I have ever had in my life. . . Even though I fall into the category of “prutzot”.

    Shana Tova to all!!

  14. I am really disturbed by this. My gut is that this is aimed at the Modern Orthodox community. I have recently had a few experiences where I get the feeling that the Yeshivsh/Charedi community has an attitude that Modern Orthodoxy is nothing but a compromise between religious and secular culture.

  15. Ita
    The extreme charedi view is a warped view of tznius and it is out to control women (these rabbis have their own way of controlling men, through preventing them from working and keeping them in kollel).

    I don’t view extreme charediism (and even some aspects of moderate charediism) as legitimate Judaism. I see it as a warped cult version of it. Basically, at the point when rabbanim forget that their first responsibility is to care for their community in every sense of the word, that rabbi just left the boundaries of normative halachic Judaism.

  16. These people need to get their minds out of the gutter, and stop obsessing about women. At this rate, “tznius” will soon mean about the same thing as “burqa.”

  17. First I highly doubt that this actually comes from R’ Kanievsky. This is Israel where people such as Yolish Krauss who say that certain big Rabbis say this or that, and that he works for them, but it is simply not so. When I say an actual letter, with R’ Kanievsky’s signature on it, then I will begin to believe this.

    @Upper West Side Mom: Why just a feeling in the gut. This has been stated openly for many years.

  18. As far as I can tell, the women do a pretty good job separating themselves without a grand declaration.

  19. These things put me off so much. The more we focus on our hitzoniut, the more judgemental we become of others. I completely reject the concept that being more stringent is being more religious. It alienates everyone involved and furthers the rift in Am Yisrael.

  20. Many things are supposedly said in the name of “this Rabbi” and “that Rabbi” but in reality ARE JUST THE TROUBLE-MAKERS.

    Besides, how can one share the beauty of Shabbos, the Holiness of living a life of Mitzvos if one does not speak to those that could benefit from such a conversation.

    And Besides that, who says “those other ladies” are not observant altogether?

    This nonsense smells more than a dead fish left open in the sun for two days.

  21. I am very upset by this … it’s going too far.

    But this “the implication of this sign—that a woman who wears a bandanna is contaminating someone who wears a modest scarf—is scary” really doesn’t make sense. Pre-tied bandanas are very tznius and cover all hair. I just don’t go for these gestapo dictates. A very very respected and tznius Rebbetzen wears davka a bandana!

    Like I said, something is very fishy here.

    • The writer of the sign was probably not a fashion expert. But when I hear bandana, I think of a triangle of cloth, tied in the back, often with long hair hanging down from underneath.

  22. Michael Ghanooni says

    This just goes to show how much words can be put into a Rabbi’s mouth – or taken out of context – by some people who have nothing better to do.

  23. Rav Kanievsky would NEVER say such a thing. Someone goes to him and says something like:

    “l’chvod ha Rav; would the Rav say that a tzanua should try to be friends with other tzanuas”
    The Rav says, “why not?”
    The first guy goes home and makes a whole story about seperate benches

  24. my understanding is that Rn Kanievsky meets with all types of people who come to her for brachot, advice, and that she is “into” being mekarev people. Therefore, I doubt that this message really reflects RCKanievsky’s opinion.

  25. wow that’s something

    I think that as we move closer to geula, things become harder and weirder. The thing is to hold on no matter what. As time progresses and situations happen, we notice that it must be coming soon, whatever soon is.

  26. Will the escalation of stupid “suggestions” ever stop? Surely these people know that there millions of more effective ways to feel closer to Hashem.

  27. terrble

  28. The attitude in this ad is beyond wrong. It destroys our communities from within. I was reminded of a story about Rav S. Z. Auerbach, which I posted here:


  29. I didn’t realize that there were so many RZ women in Neve Yaacov. I thought that most of the people there were either charedi or chiloni. I find it really strange that it’s making a mention of women who are somewhat trying to cover up but not doing it according to charedi standards as opposed to saying not to sit next to women in pants and tank tops.

  30. Great, more room for me on the benches!

  31. I don’t see why you think all haredim have an interest in bringing others close to God. Some have more of an interest in maintaining their high standards of frumkeit. They couldn’t care less if women dress modestly. They care only about how you dress *in their presence*.

  32. great response, squarepeg613! But I do believe they expect the women will feel like the Better Davis character did when everyone shunned her.

  33. LOL this is the kind of stuff that gives me aliyah anxiety…
    were they perhaps worried about cooties….LOL
    Great Blog I’m a long term lurker doing Aliyah B’H soon

    chag Sameach

  34. Someday, those poor, sunlight deprived, vitamin D deficient creatures may be sitting on a bench -in a doctor’s office. Waiting to see a surgeon to remove their cancerous breasts or colons.


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