Demanding Separate Bus Routes

1,000 hareidi-religious Jews protested Thursday afternoon in Jerusalem, demanding official separate-gender bus lines for the areas that want them.

Hillel Fendel ,

Egged bus
Egged bus

Some 1,000 hareidi-religious Jews held a protest on Thursday afternoon in the Shmuel HaNavi neighborhood of Jerusalem, demanding that the Egged bus cooperative provide official separate-gender bus lines to the areas that want them.

At present, separate-gender lines, called “mehadrin routes,” operate on an informal basis in several areas, mainly on inter-city routes to and from Bnei Brak and Jerusalem. Male passengers board the bus in the front, women sit in the rear, and secular radio stations are not played. Many complaints have been made by passengers, mainly female, who did not follow the arrangement and were harassed.

The Supreme Court, hearing a petition against the arrangement last year, ruled that the Transportation Ministry must convene a forum to investigate the various legal, social and other ramifications of the separate bus lines.

The ruling noted that at the time, there were 30 gender-separate bus lines, 23 of which were inter-city. Additional separate lines are operated by private companies.

Hareidim: Mixed Buses are Immodest
Hareidi-religious passengers claim that non-separation, especially in crowded conditions and/or the summer, makes it impossible for them to avoid seeing and being in contact with immodestly-dressed women. 

Jerusalem Councilwoman Rachel Azariah said, “I am a religious woman myself, and I know that there is no Halakhic [Jewish legal] requirement to separate between men and women on buses. In addition, this is a slippery slope: Will separate stores and sidewalks be next?”

Meretz MK Nitzan Horowitz said that the public must demonstrate against the hareidi demands. “Only in Saudi Arabia, Tehran and Jerusalem are there separate bus lines,” he said.