Knesset officials announced Wednesday that they would approve a request for separate-sex hours in the Knesset's exercise room. Male and female MKs will exercise separately once a week, in response to a request from MK Michael Ben-Ari of the National Union (Ichud Leumi).
Ben-Ari explained that he and parliamentary aide Itamar Ben-Gvir were interested in exercising, but felt that it was inappropriate for men and women to exercise side by side. Many religious Jews will work alongside members of the opposite sex, but prefer to exercise in exclusively same-sex settings.
"Physical health is the key to mental health,” Ben-Ari said in explanation of his desire to use the Knesset's exercise equipment. “In the pressure cooker that is the Knesset, exercise is as critical as air.”
Ben-Ari (right) and Ben-Gvir take advantage of the separate gym hours
The freshman MK praised the Knesset for respecting his religious beliefs, and by extension, the beliefs of a large percent of Israel's population. “The separate hours for men and women send the important message that those who are careful [to avoid mixed gyms] have rights as well,” he said.
“I respect those who do not feel that [separate-sex hours] are necessary, but I am happy that the Knesset has chosen to implement a liberal and pluralistic view that allows all sectors of society to use the exercise room,” he concluded.