Elderly couple (illustrative).
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Ministerial Committee for Legislation on Sunday approved government backing for a bill that will grant exemptions to the elderly from standing in line.
Social Equality Minister Gila Gamliel proposed the measure with the intention of easing the physical burden of standing in line for senior citizens.
“Giving priority and an exemption from standing in line to citizens over 80 years old is something that we must do as a society even without a law, but I have no doubt that thanks to the legislation this will turn into a social norm that will make the law redundant in the future,” Gamliel said after the vote.
Presently, only certain institutions exempt the elderly from standing in line, and there is no law granting this right.
The law would apply to post offices, banks, movie theaters, cultural theaters, stadiums, national parks and supermarkets. And the social equality minister could add additional places where the law would take effect.
“In Israel there is no person who doesn’t come across the shameful phenomenon in which senior citizens are forced to stand in long lines to receive services in public places,” Gamliel said.
Treating elders well is a pillar of a “healthy and tolerant society that knows how to respect and cherish its older citizens,” and this bill reflects “the minimum that we can do for them,” she said.
The Tzohar NGO, which promotes Jewish identity in Israel, welcomed the decision and said it fell in line with Jewish values.
“The Jewish identity of the State of Israel is characterized by the adoption of commandments of the Torah between man and his fellow man. The bill regarding preferential treatment for the elderly is in accordance with the commandment of the Torah and Jewish ethics ‘Respect the elderly.’ It would be preferable to have a society where this behavior is obvious, but if this is not the case – it’s good that the law will require it,” Rabbi Yuval Cherlow said.
MK Rachel Azaria said that women in the advanced stages of pregnancy and mothers with young babies should also be covered by the legislation.