Saturday, December 31, 2011

And How Does This Shiloh Grandmother Feel About The Religious/Gender Stories in The News?

The Jerusalem Post's Barbara Sofer wrote an interesting article this week about the issue.
I was trying to help a media colleague from one of the world’s well-known networks. To create balance in a news report on the current discussion of women’s status in Israel, he sought an English-speaking woman interviewee who would defend the policy of restricting women to the back of the bus. We weren’t having much luck. My first suggestion was going abroad that week and the second was already abroad. Finally, he turned to me. “What about you?”

He was hoping that as a religious woman who wears long skirts and covers her hair, I might be sympathetic to the idea of segregated seating on buses. Initially, I was shocked by his erroneous assumption, but the more I thought about it, the better I understood.
Even though Sofer, like myself, covers her hair and dresses in skirts and sleeves, our tzniyut (modesty) stringencies most likely would be considered insufficient by chareidim especially in the summer.  I live in Shiloh, a religious, dati leumi, aka Orthodox community.  The school has its dress code based on Jewish Law. 

There are many interpretations of Jewish Law even among those who make every effort to live by the Torah.  We aren't chareidi; we're like those who send their children to the school in Beit Shemesh that has seen its young students attacked/harassed. 

The situation there has gone too far, and I'm glad that those who oppose the violence are uniting to protest.  Rafi, of Life in Israel, reported on it.  He lives in RBS.

Now for my opinion on separation of the sexes...  I don't mind sitting behind the mechitza to doven, not having to worry about anything other than communicating with G-d.  I'm not looking for honors, attention or any of the other things going on "downstairs."  To tell you the truth, I see more serious praying up where I sit than down there where the men are.

Traveling on a bus, train or plane is a different matter.  I'll sit wherever.  I must admit that I do look first for empty seats next to women, but if the only empty seat is by a male, I'll sit there.  If he doesn't like it, he can get up.  I have instructed men to sit together to free a seat for a woman or two.  There's no reason for a woman to stand when men are occupying double the seats they need.  For myself, I'll just sit.  At my age, I need to, but some women are too shy.  That's when I've interfered.

And about those men who consider eight year old religious girls sexually provocative...
"We’re all nauseated by the footage on Channel 2 of the man in Beit Shemesh describing his “healthy” male urges when he sees a little girl walking to school." from the Barbara Sofer article
Those men are pedophiles, perverts trying to blame their problems on innocent children.   Those men need serious psychiatric help.  Anyone seeing them harassing children should shout:
I suggest that we all try being as makpid,  exacting in a different mitzvah, Torah Commandment.  Let's try Derech Eretz,  the way to treat other people.  It's better to act Mehadrin than eat Mehadrin.


Hadassa said...

Other than the fact that people, especially young girls, are being threatened and in some cases attacked, one of the saddest consequences of this issue is that anyone considering being more careful about modesty issues is probably going to be very wary of becoming "like them". The bizarre behaviour that has no backing from any of the Sages is making it increasingly difficult to find the correct balance between leniencies meant for unavoidable, but undesirable, situations, basic laws and commendable stringencies.

Batya said...

Their behavior is totally forbidden by halacha. I think they should be reported as pedophiles. There's no other reason for them to be so hung-up on little girls.

Leora said...

I think your description of the men fixating on the eight-year-old girls has some validity. I'm not a psychologist, but it does seem this is a huge part of this specific girls' school issue.

Dawn Nussbaum said...

Ahavas Yisroel. Jews should not be attacking or spitting on one another. That, to me, is what is really forbidden by halachah.

Batya said...

Yes, Leora, no doubt. And also in a society that so totally separates the sexes, there's only one thing a woman is to be used for, sex.

Dawn, so true.

Anonymous said...

This issue doesn't affect me personally, but I'm completely on board with what you've written here. The pictures coming out of the counter-protest, complete with Holocaust prisoner garb are completely beyond the pale. I hope that by showing just how far they're willing to go to prove their twisted points that people will stand up and vociferously push back against this insanity and these sick people (because really, as you say, what sane, normal person is obsessed with how sexy an EIGHT year old is? Eight year olds are not sexy. They are little girls). Enough is enough. I'm not even Jewish (yet) and those pictures sicken me.

Anonymous said...

This was perfect timing for Parshat Vayigash. Yosef and his brothers. Nothing has changed - not yet. Go back and read the Haftarah - Yechezkel 37:15-28. Waiting...

Batya said...

G-d willing we'll unite over something good.

Hadassa said...

Rabbi Eliezer Melamed, a sane voice, on the subject. English translated from Hebrew.

Anonymous said...

I see the bus issue as a choice. There are many, many buses that are mixed and just a few that are separate seating. Personally, I prefer separate seating, even though when necessary I will sit next to a man. The seats on the bus are close together and many people are overweight. I do not want to have to be squished up against a man. Also, many men spread out, so even I try to maintain a space between us, they just intrude further into my space. And then there is standing on a packed bus. I don't see what the problem is to have some mehadrin buses, as a choice, and no-one has to get on if they feel that this is disrespectful to their honour. There are some countries that have separate train carriages for women and that is seen as an achievement for women. So why not here?

It goes without saying that everything should be done with derech eretz and ahavat yisrael. And this applies to the fanatics on both sides of the equation. I am referring to the ultra-left incitement against hareidim and the religious. Every two weeks a woman in Israel is murdered by her partner. Why is this not the topic du jour? This proves that all this media interest is pure incitement against the religious and has nothing to do with women's rights.

As for Beit Shemesh, why didn't the police do anything for months? They could easily have brought the perpetrators to justice.

Could someone please wake me up when sanity is restored. All this madness is hurting my head.

Batya said...

a, unless one has the money for a taxi or private car, he/she has no choice when the needed bus route is separate seating. I won't call it "mehadrin," because there is no hiddur mitzvah in forcing women to squeeze themselves in the back of the bus, separating couples, families etc, making women stand when there's room next to a man etc

Just call them the chillul Hashem lines.

Hadassa, yes, a well thought out psak.

Ita A said...

How about instead of looking at the bus issue as *THEM* not being right to us ladies.. we can look at it as a chance to be sensitive to the feelings of another Jew even if I don't agree with them.
At this time in history we need to be K'Ish Echad B'Lev Echad not divided.

ALL sects of Judaism need to look into themselves and see how they can do something caring about the other one.

I associate myself for the most part as Chareidi . I will say that sometimes I don't want to sit in the back so I will davka not go on the non mehadrin line.

Batya said...

Tzemer, first, I'm not part of a "sect;" I'm just a Jew who does her best to keep the mitzvot. Sects set themselves apart, but that's all another issue. No, I'm wrong. You brought up the "sect" issue. It's a key here. This separate bus line business and new "halacha" about separate seating is dividing the Jewish People.

"Sensitive," yes I am. That's why I remind men wasting seats to sit together so the women won't be forced to stand. I'd like to see some sensitivity from the other side.

Ita A said...

What's dividing the Jewish people is people on all ends trying to dictate to others how to live.
Some are telling others how to dress and others are belittling others ideals (even if they aren't halacha).
We need to step beyond telling others what to do and be considerate of the other's feelings.

If Chareidim want a segregated bus line let them have it.. just as long as there are other bus lines that allow mixed seating..

If others want to dress a certain way etc then let them do it. If people don't like the way certain people dress then they don't have to move to that city.

I am a woman who cares for equal rights for ALL women. Some women don't want to have the segregated buses while others like it. BOTH of them deserve their needs to be met.

This is a Jewish state in our historic homeland.. Let's all treat each other with respect and consideration so that we can truly enjoy living in this wonderful land b'nachas with the Moshiach and the Bais Hamikdash..