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February 26, 2013


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Bas Melech

Good for them! Hope these women succeed.


The city is rotten to its core. No one is going to "succeed" until the entire structure of the municipality from mayor to street cleaner are dismantled ... that is, expect the worst of the worst haredim.


Unfortunately, this is the face of Israel in the duture. As the population of Haredim grows disproportionally, and their political power grows with the population, the haredi culture will dictate societal norms. Israel will become a theocracy.


Being familiar with Bet Shemesh, I can tell you that the social lack of civility is compounded by non-Charedi lawlessness as well.
The culture in Israel, not only in Bet Shemesh, is one of very limited respect for the rule of law in terms of municipal statutes. They are very primitive. The trend is changing slowly, but even secular Israelis are very much used to complete violation of zoning laws. Enforcement is rare. The local governments are very corrupt and hopelessly incompetent at enforcement. Add to that atmosphere a Charedi culture and you have severe lack decorum.

Rueven Aharon

Reform Judaism... reminding everybody that Judaism is a religion, not a cult, for at least fifty years... :-)

Rueven Aharon

even secular Israelis are very much used to complete violation of zoning laws.

Well, do Israelis want zoning laws? If so, how do they intend to zone? Zoning is one of the methods of urban planning, the art of determining how a city should look and what the land uses should be. If zoning laws are too strict for the culture to bear, then people will either ignore or move to overturn them.

The problem with Mea Shearim is that they're acting like an American-style gated community, while their streets are actually public, unlike many American-style gated communities. Therefore, if the streets are public, shouldn't the rights and freedoms of the public prevail? If Jerusalem wants to give the streets of Mea Shearim to the Mea Shearimites, then maybe it should be allowed to do so, in return for a fee or for an agreement that the Mea Shearim "homeowners' association" would keep up the streets itself. Nonetheless, if the streets are still public, then they're public.

Rueven Aharon

Now for the other issue, the one that led to this article. Gender segregation is a touchy issue. On the one hand, there are women-only places in some parts of the world (i.e., women only railroad cars in certain countries) because the women feel that the men aren't keeping their hands to themselves. So they ask for, and get, women-only facilities to feel more comfortable.

Then there is Abrahamic and other traditional gender segregation, in which it's essentially the men running away from the women. This is because the societies involved are patriarchial, and they take a male-centered view that members of their own gender shouldn't be thinking about sex. Hence, tznius, hijab, and other "modesty" rules, mechitzas, and other such things.

(This puritanism has also occurred in Vedic religions to some extent, where it has taken weird forms. For example, the X-rated sculptures at Khajuraho were created with the intent of disarming the sexual response of people to those images through practice, so that they'd focus on spiritual things rather than sexual things.)

There's "birds of a feather flock together" gender segregation, which is informal (guys might want to "hang out with the boys" or women might want to have "girl talk").

However, some women and men are uncomfortable with gender segregation. They grew up in a culture where boys and girls study together, pray together, live with one another, and interact on an everyday basis. To them, not being allowed to walk around in public without having to "dress up" is just... weird. Yes, they are concerned about sexual harassment, but they are not concerned about whether or not they stoke unrelated frummie libidos belonging to people that are not going to pounce on them anyway. They are concerned about violence from idiots who should be minding their own business, though.

To frei and moderate frum yidden, gender segregation is a matter for the bathroom, living accommodations (if unmarried or not in a relationship), and groups of friends (and, for the moderate frum Jews, the shul). Apparently, the hareidi have different ideas, and this is where push comes to shove.


Replace putting up modesty signs with illegally parking cars in the middle of the street or in disabled parking places:

"There were multiple efforts to remove the cars in coordination with the police. But new cars were parked immediately, and municipal supervisors do not have the power to deal with a situation like that,” a city spokesperson reportedly claimed.

You think anyone would take that seriously?!


I would like to point out a mistake. The Israel Religious Action Center's abbreviation is IRAC, not the RAC. The RAC is another organization based in Washington DC.

Thank you.

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