Jerusalem groups to protest 'mehadrin' bus lines

Jerusalem groups to lead

On the same day that Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz is expected to deliver his recommendations to the Supreme Court about "mehadrin" bus lines - which designate separate seating for men and women - some residents of the capital plan to make their voices heard on the subject. The Yerushalmim movement, along with members of the New Israel Fund and Meretz, announced this week that they would lead a Sunday demonstration against the bus lines' continued existence. The demonstration, which is scheduled to start at 8:30 a.m. in the capital's Government Quarter, is meant to pressure the transportation minister to reverse what protesters have labeled "gender segregation" and "religious coercion" on the buses. "We want the government ministers to understand that the public is not going to accept the situation as it is now," Jerusalem City Councilwoman Rachel Azaria, a member of the Yerushalmim movement and vocal critic of the mehadrin lines, told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday. "I hope that this protest will lead to the dismantling of gender segregation on the bus lines," she added. "Even within the haredi community, this is not something that is widely supported, and is instead a decision made by a very small minority of extremists that is affecting everyone." A number of interpretations of Jewish law make clear the need for the separation of men and women, within the context of modesty. A group of Jerusalem-based haredim demanded such provisions be made on a number of bus lines nearly 10 years ago, and Egged agreed. Today, some 55 such lines are in full operation throughout the country. "There is no room for such bus lines in a democratic country," Azaria said. "And while there are a number of haredim who are not willing to accept the situation, for us it's simply not an option. We're not willing to accept separation between the sexes in the public sphere."