Recently Nancy Kaufman visited Jerusalem with a group from the National Council of Jewish Women. Members of her group decided to join with activists from the Israel Reform Action Center (IRAC) to challenge the segregation of women on public buses, most particularly, routes which go through ultra orthodox neighborhoods. She reports:
"On the bus that I was on,there was no sign, and the women who boarded walked to the back even though we had left a lot of seats for them in front. The men who boarded had no idea what to do and gave us very dirty looks. Most chose to stand or occupy a seat where none of us was sitting. One woman commented to one of our Hebrew-speaking members: “You should be ashamed of yourselves. Why don’t you take care of your own prostitutes and drugs and do not worry about us?” Others seemed to feel empowered by our presence and took seats in the front of the bus and asked why were we there.
"I, for one, was proud to ride the bus (in the front seat) and to feel like I was helping Israeli women take their rightful place at the front of the bus or anywhere they choose to sit."
This is not a new phenomena. The New Israel Fund reports:
Israel's Supreme Court ruled in January buses for ultra-Orthodox Jews that force women to sit separately from men are illegal, but also added that they could not halt voluntary segregation.
Just last week Palestinians took a Freedom Ride of their own on busses in the occupied territories and were hauled off by police.
The following is from the Jewish Daily Forward.
By Allison Kaplan Sommer
What drives us crazy is that the very same people who forced us to study how we are the chosen people, how we take care of the weak and should be compassionate are those who are now willing to bully a woman simply because she is wearing short sleeves and will send a brutal modesty squad to threaten her…you have to know that we are furious at you because we are disappointed in you.
We must make sure that those who want to advertise [with] women’s images in the city can do so without fear of vandalism and defacement of billboards or buses showing women.
Read more: http://blogs.forward.com/sisterhood-blog/146351/#ixzz1eHHCDcLw