Judge: Court to Approve Mehadrin Buses


bus-mehadrinThe Israeli High Court of Justice will not ban gender segregation on charedi bus routes, and is likely to accept the Transport Ministry’s recommendation to make the separation between genders voluntary rather than compulsory, Justice Elyakim Rubinstein said today.

In line with the recommendation, Transportation Ministry officers will monitor buses serving the ultra-Orthodox population to make sure that no violence against female passengers takes place.

It appears, however, that the High Court decision will not effectively overturn the current arrangement aboard the ‘Kosher’ bus lines, which forbids women from sitting in the front.

Today’s hearing is expected to be the last to discuss the petition brought up against the Transportation Ministry and the Egged and Dan bus companies in 2007 by a group of women in collaboration with the Israeli Religious Action Center.

The Transportation Ministry recommendation is based on a report presented by an official committee, which advised that well-monitored gender segregation is the best solution. Early in 2010, the High Court called for experimental implementation of the committee’s conclusions for a period of one year.

An official High Court decision is expected to be published soon.

“Our tendency is to go with the conclusions that the Transportation Minister has adopted,” Rubinstein said. “We are aware that there are reservations, but in our opinion the conclusions are balanced.”

Rubinstein’s statement drew mixed reactions. Jerusalem City Council member Rachel Azaria told Ynet that the impending High Court decision will effectively validate the current segragation. She called the decision an attempt to have the cake and eat it, too. “On one hand, the court says the separation is illegal. On the other, it allows it to exist,” she said.

Public transportation companies welcomed Rubinstein’s statements. Attorney Orna Kadar, who represents the Egged bus company, said the decision provides a balanced solution to both sides of the dispute. “We must accept the Transportation Minister’s announcement, and thus put an end to this petition,” she said.

During the hearing, Attorney Orly Erez-Lachovsky, who represents some of the petitioners, warned against a partial implementation of the official committee’s conclusions. “The report is all well and good, but it cannot remain a disregarded law,” she said. “In our opinion, the court should declare that the report will be adopted verbatim.”

Erez-Lachovsky addressed the the haredi bus line custom which requires the women to board through the rear doors. “Women who board through the rear doors have no courage to sit in the front,” she said. “What the committee is saying is impossible, because if no change occurs on the surface, nothing will change. The women will have to obey.”

According to Erez-Lachovsky, the solution is simple: Either close the rear door for boarding on charedi bus lines, or open them for boarding on all bus lines.

A recent Transportation Ministry investigation did not unearth any complaints on the special bus lines. The report produced by the monitoring company said that no incidents of coercion, aggression, yelling or the like were reported when in connection to the seating arrangement and the separation between men and women.

However, the company did say that on six out of 17 bus rides “the monitoring individuals were asked or required to move from their seats, which they did in order to avoid a confrontation with the local population.”  



  1. this does not touch on several issues:
    why can the men not board and sit in the back? if they enter the back door, they will not see the women nor have to walk between two of them. they are not pregnant, and by and large the smaller children sit with the women. the back of the bus is bumpier and less comfortable, especially for pregnant women and young children.

    two young children, brother and sister are often prevented from sitting near each other on these buses. recently this occurred where the brother was a hearing impaired child. granted the individuals who would not allow it were not a valid representation of the charedi world, but they won, nevertheless.

    women often are required by the driver to board the bus at the front in order to pay, then go off the bus and board at the back. this is not tzanua. especially when he starts driving and we have to walk through all those men to get to the back.

    women who wish to sit in the front for whatever reason are harrassed. it happened to me last night. Another women and I were first to board the bus. we honestly did not know it was a mehadrin bus. a young man with his baby in arms got on the bus, muttered something about women. since we were sitting on either side of the aisle, i thought he did not want to walk through and moved to the side. I am about 30 years older than he appeared. Then he came back and began muttering something, and we realized he wanted us to move. the bus driver, as it happened, had not had any change at the beginning of the route and had to give me some 150 NIS in change.I wasn’t about to go to the back where he would forget about it – or I would have to walk the catwalk to get the change. Next few stops more men got on. Most said nothing. One older fellow became the spokesman and began to ask us to move, politely but very forcefully. I asked him why he was talking to women, that is not very modest. I explained that I need the change, and am not about to walk through all the men after I get it. If I feel like it, I’ll go off the bus after I get it, and walk to the back door to board. the other women was really upset. she had endured other harassing incidents with children being seperated, she wasn’t sure where to get off, and she didn’t travel well. She was called a ‘chatzifa’ by this man. I told him that while I may move to the back via the back door, this lady is not feeling well, and she ain’t moving. and in general, i don’t understand how it is modest for him to be standing there talking to us.

    I reiterate: let the men sit in the back.

  2. I live in Beitar where the buses are separate and in all the years I am living here I have never seen an incident, the most I’ve ever seen is that when there is space in the back and women are sitting in the front and there is no more room for men to sit, the women have been asked to please move.

    There is nothing not tzniusdig about a man asking women to please move, unless he is directly looking at them and/or trying to engage them in a conversation.

  3. the spereate buses are already volutaree. If you dont catcha 49A then just catch a 45 at a stop for steps away! Husbands and wives do sit on the mehadrin buses together but people are considerate and give priority for women with dtroller or are pregant! Brother and sister can sit together on the buses! but if an old man/woman comes on the girl gets up to offer her seat or vis versa! this topic is blown out of proportion because of a few anti religious people.

  4. Let me just say that I was also dismayed at the inappropriate behaviour I experienced. I commented because it is a few ignoramuses who are giving all of charedim a black eye.

    #3 there were plenty of seats on the bus, and he was looking straight at me and would not let up. which was why I finally countered with ‘this isn’t tzanua’

    #4 I agree it is usually not a problem. I think it is more of an issue on the intercity buses than on the buses within the city (Yerushalayim, Beitar). Perhaps because the men, like #5 decide we are l’hachis when we are not at all. And to answer #5 I am not a feminist. I was just waiting for my change. On a bus that was empty when I got on. I was dressed in a very tzanua way, wear a tichel, not a shaitel and was not talking on my cell phone.

  5. Mehadrin buses are NOT voluntary, nor will they be after this law is past when there are misguided individuals who think that it is their job to be the “tznius” police. Unfortunately, although some people call themselves “charaidi” there is the basic principles of mentchlichkeit are often absent. Whereas Neve Yaakov may have multiple lines, not all of the mehadrin busses have parallel non-mehadrin lines and some of those mehadrin lines run through Sorotzkin and Har Nof- with terrible speed bumps. When I was going through a difficult pregnancy, I would often sit in bus…yes, even the mehadrin ones…as the driving of the Israeli bus drivers is not exactly smooth and I was not willing to risk the life of my unborn child by sitting in the back. And, no, as the wife of a kollel avraich I could not afford to take a taxi to my weekly checkups. I often had to endure visious, death-stares or comments by these misguided individuals. What happened to a little mentchlichkeit? What happened to dan li’kaf zechus? Is it so hard to not look? For that I have to risk the life of my unborn child? I am sorry, but that is NOT what the Torah wants. And for anon who claims that people are considerate to women with a stroller or are pregnant, you must not be a woman. When I have gotten on buses with a double stroller and preganent, charaidi men watch me struggle and stay in their seat, while the chilonim help and are quick to give up their seat. This has happened to me more times than I can count. Instead of worrying so much about where people sit on the bus, I think that we should be more worried about our middos and our responsibility to teach good middos to the next generation. I agree, let the men get on the back of the bus. And let us be more worried about what the Torah really wants for us…tzi’u u’reu aizo derech yidabaik bo ha’adam…lev tov.