Thursday, January 26, 2012

True Story About Getting a Seat on an "Unoffical" Gender-Separate Bus, Plus

I've written about the problems here in Israel with the newly popular halachik invention of "Mehadrin" sic buses in which men sit in the front and women in the back.  Besides the "official lines" included, there are quite a few others in which you almost never see men and women sitting together, unless they're spouses or close relatives.  It's also common in other lines for individual religious or chareidi men to take up the seats (one for each two person seat) and the women boarding the bus, shlepping to the back to look for an empty seat next to another woman.

Since I'm old enough to pay half-price, I'm also old enough to refuse to endanger myself walking in a moving or even about-to-move bus.  Especially since I feel rather anonymous on public buses, I've begun asking the men to double-up to free a seat for me.  I ask politely, and it works.  I used to just ask for other women, but now I even ask for myself.

Legally, even the officially separate seating bus lines are supposed to be "voluntary," not required.  That means that women can ask men to double up so they can sit down in the front of the bus.

Rafi's Life in Israel put up an interesting youtube clip about Israeli TV news reporters dressed as chareidim to see how secular Israelis react to them in various situations.  Even if you don't understand Hebrew well, you may follow the action from body language etc.

Food for thought. G-d is waiting to redeem us, but we have to be ready.

Chodesh Shvat Tov!


Hadassa said...

In order to properly test the theory a hareidi family would have to move into one of those rentals. Unfortunately what's happening in the Kiryat Yovel neighborhood of Jerusalem may give a more accurate picture of the situation. Just one article of many on the subject:

rickismom said...

Hadassa, thanks for this article! And Batya, I often have asked men to double up so as to free a space for women, and have yet to be refused....

Batya said...

Hadassa, Kiryat Yovel used to be a very mixed, Tradiional sfardi neighborhood. How sad.
Rickismom, yes, I realized that it's better to ask than to suffer in silence. We have to educate the fellas.

Anonymous said...

Hi Batya, Yitz here [too lazy to sign in]. One commenter on your earlier post wrote: "If Chareidim want a segregated bus line let them have it.. just as long as there are other bus lines that allow mixed seating."
This is exactly the point. Those who wanted the Mehadrin lines actually were going to have their own bus company, but Egged butted in & said, "We'll do it for you." So really, the issue is with Egged & not with the Chareidim. The whole controversy is one that was ignited by the secular Israeli media, unfortunately.

Batya said...

It's not financially viable for two comopanies to compete on the same routes. Everyone will suffer in the long run. If men don't want to see or sit next to women, let them ghetto themselved in the very back of the bus and sit next to strangers to free seats for women and couples.
Derech Eretz goes a long way, chessed, too.

Hadassa said...

If Egged doesn't offer separate seating buses and the other company does, then they're not competing for the same customers. What happened now is that a rich hareidi agreed to provide buses free of charge so as to avoid the monopoly laws. There are other ways to get around the monopoly also. It's better to have open, fair competition than all these games.
And yes, derech eretz goes a long way and, IMHO, would have prevented most of this mess.

Batya said...

Bus customers choose buses according to routes. That's how a bus company makes money. There are a limited number of people needing each route. That translates into the number/frequency of buses. If you change mode/seating of travel you divide the customer base, so each company has to offer fewer buses or they lose money.