A grocery store in the Haredi neighborhood of Mea Shearim in Jerusalem has begun banning women from entering the store on Fridays and the eve of holidays after 11:00 a.m., according to local news outlet Mynet.
A sign placed on the entrance of the store reads "in light of the request of the rabbis of the neighborhood and a large number of our customers, we announce to all our customers the establishment of special times for women and men."
According to the sign, the separate times for men and women began in October and were first announced a few years ago, although the public did not follow the rules set by the announcement up until now.
"We have now responded to the awakening of the public to try this amendment again, provided that the public abides by it. Purity and sanctity depend solely on the public and not on the management of the network!"
Gender segregation in the Haredi community in Israel
Segregation between men and women is strictly accorded to by the Haredi community. A few streets in Haredi neighborhoods in Jerusalem have signs advising men and women to walk on separate sidewalks. Women on buses in Haredi areas will often be asked to sit in the back of the bus as well, although this practice is prohibited by Israeli law.
While some forms of gender segregation are permitted by Israeli law, most forms of segregation that result in discrimination in services to the public are banned.
The Prohibition of Discrimination in Products, Services, and Entry into Public Places law states that "Those who are engaged in the provision of a public product or service or in the operation of a public place, shall not discriminate in the provision of the public product or service, in granting entry to the public place or in the provision of service in the public place, due to race, religion or religious group, nationality, country of origin, sex, sexual orientation, outlook, party affiliation, age, personal status, parentage or the wearing of the uniforms of the security and rescue forces or their symbols."
The definition of "public place" in the law includes stores. The law also states that public places can separate between men and women if the lack of separation would prevent part of the public from accessing the product or service, "provided that the separation is justified, taking into account, among other things, the nature of the product, the public service or the public place, its degree of necessity, the existence of a reasonable alternative to it, and the needs of the public that may be harmed by the separation."
The law additionally bans the providers of public services or products from publishing announcements that include discrimination between protected categories.
The issue of gender segregation has been raised amid negotiations between the parties attempting to form a new government under prime minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu, with Haredi parties reportedly demanding legislation permitting gender segregation in publicly funded events.