Jerusalem light rail.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
The hard-line Eda Haredit ultra-Orthodox communal organization has issued strong objections to one of the new light rail lines currently being planned, saying it will increase “immodesty” in their neighborhoods.
On Thursday, the radical organization, known for its general opposition to the Zionist state, published a notice in the Mea She’arim neighborhood and its nearby residential areas, decrying the planned green light rail line, which it said would bring immodesty to the district.
The green line, which is slated for completion by 2026, will start on Mount Scopus and will pass through Sarei Yisrael and Bar-Ilan streets, which cross several haredi neighborhoods including Romema and Sanhedriya, eventually reaching Gilo in the south of the city.
“As is well known, to our great distress, these trains, especially in haredi neighborhoods, cause the most terrible damage to the boundaries of modesty and are a great danger to the purity of every God-fearing Jew who needs their services, and it is right to be concerned that they will be able to use public transport without any obstacles,” reads the notice.
It asked that the municipality do everything to “prevent the damage” and “at least, leave the current public transport situation as it is, which those who fear Heaven and observe the Torah and its commandments can still use in part.”
The notice is signed by the head of the Eda Haredit, Rabbi Yitzhak Tuvia Weiss.
The opposition to the line appears to stem from the fact that it serves a diverse range of neighborhoods, and that haredi residents of the neighborhoods it traverses would be more exposed to people who in their eyes do not dress modestly.
A source close to Mayor Nir Barkat said the plan for the green line is going ahead and will be completed, but that bus lines in the neighborhoods in question will be preserved for those not wishing to use the light rail.
He added that most of the haredi community is in favor of the new line, especially since it will help reduce air and noise pollution in their neighborhoods.
The source also added that because the municipality will continue to maintain bus lines through these neighborhoods, he does not believe the Eda would call for serious protests over the issue.
Shmulik Elgrabli, a spokesman for the Jerusalem Transport Master Team, a body in charge of public transport planning in the city, also emphasized that alternatives to the light rail will remain available for the public.
“We conduct dialogue with all communities in Jerusalem, including the ultra-Orthodox, and are working together with them to ensure that bus routes are available as an alternative,” he said, adding that the bus routes would be coordinated with communal leaders before being finalized.
The green line will run from Mount Scopus through central Jerusalem and down to the southern neighborhoods of the city, branching off in two directions after the Pat Junction, one to Gilo and the other to Malha.