No More “Back of the Bus” in Israel

From Reuters yesterday, an article about a recent protest against segregated seating on public buses in Jerusalem. A group of women entered Bus No. 56 through the front door and sat in the front seats. The problem is that No. 56 runs through an ultra-Orthodox neighborhood that frowns on the public mixing of the sexes. In fact, until very recently, women on Bus No. 56 were told to enter through the rear door and sit in the back. Only this year, the Israeli Supreme Court ruled that women traveling on public buses cannot be told to sit in the back, and signs now say that people have a right to sit wherever they want. Segregation continues, however. Whatever secular law requires, many ultra-Orthodox Jews in Jerusalem — and not only men, according to the article — believe that the Torah forbids the mixing of men and women on buses; other Torah experts dispute this. The author draws on the protest to highlight the increasingly bitter divide between secular and religious Jews in Israel. – MLM

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