A sign discovered at the Ashdod Rabbinical Court this week indicated that a bomb shelter in the building was for men alone, directing women to a separate room.
Following publication of the issue, the Rabbinical Courts Administration said a local worker had posted the sign without the management’s knowledge and that it had been removed as soon as the court had become aware of it.
The story first appeared in Ma’ariv Online on Wednesday, after a volunteer in the office of Labor MK Stav Shaffir noticed earlier in the week that there was a printed notice reading, “Protected zone for men,” below the permanent sign directing people to the bomb shelter, along with another notice outside the room itself saying it was for men only.
According to the volunteer, the safe room for women was next to the offices of the rabbinical judges, which are secured with an entrance code lock and which he said did not appear to conform to standard criteria for a bomb shelter.
Shaffir called on Religious Services Minister Naftali Bennett and the deputy attorney-general to deal with the issue and to prevent gender segregation in bomb shelters across the country.
“The idea that women looking for a shelter from rocket fire encounter closed doors is just unthinkable,” said Shaffir. “It can’t be that modesty customs are more important than saving lives.... Discrimination against women is always illegitimate, but when it prevents them from protecting themselves, it’s dangerous, too.”
In response to the story, the Rabbinical Courts Administration said the sign had been a result of “the private actions of an employee without the knowledge of the management,” and that it had been taken down immediately.
“In practice, gender segregation was not implemented, nor will it be implemented when [it comes to] entering bomb shelters,” the administration said.
“The Rabbinical Courts Administration views with extreme severity any attempt to segregate between men and women and will take disciplinary steps against those involved.”
It added that it had also issued detailed instructions to employees to ensure that gender separation was not enacted.
Yesh Atid MK Dov Lipman praised the administration for what he said was a swift and proper response.