Aug 17, 2011

City of Jerusalem Sponsors Mehadrin Activities

When I go out for a trip with my family, I do not go to "mehadrin" activities. That is, besides for places that include swimming. Unless I am going out with just my boys rather than the whole family, and then I don't mind. For some reason "mehadrin" has taken on the meaning of separating men and women, though I don't know why that is necessarily mehadrin, unless in situations where there can be clear breaches of tzniyus. In normal life, is it mehadrin for me to create a street where husbands cannot walk with their wives, brothers with sisters, fathers with daughters, mothers with sons?

I walk down the street every day and see women, in some places that I frequent they are dressed modestly and in some places less so. That is part of life, and we each learn to deal with the challenges we face. I would not say avoiding walking in the street, even in places where the women are modestly dressed, is mehadrin. if I go to the park, or for a hike, or to the store I dont expect it to be any different than the streets I walk on daily. I would not say that not going anywhere to avoid seeing women is "mehadrin", but if some people choose to do that, that is their way of dealing with their personal challenges. I just would not call it mehadrin.

That being said, it does not bother me that different communities do different types of activities, each styled according to the communities preferences. If a specific community wants to hold activities that include beer and sports, gei gezunteheit as they say, and if another wants to have separate hours for men and women on a carousel, once again, gei gezunteheit. And if another wants to do something else, fine by me. I will go to the ones I want to partake in, the ones I am interested, and will avoid the activities that do not interest me.

Yisrael HaYom newspaper yesterday reported about an activity in Jerusalem, always a prime source for extremism on all sides and much bickering, that raised the ire of various people. The City of Jerusalem has been sponsoring, or subsidizing, many different activities during the summer around different neighborhoods and communities around the city. In one neighborhood they sponsor concerts, in another art, in another beer and wine festivals and in others activity parks.

The City sponsored a weeklong activity park for the children of the Har Nof neighborhood. The park was billed as operating under complete separation of men and women, with different hours for each (sometimes such parks allow both men and women in at the same time with different sections and alternating hours). Along with that, it also instructed females that the activities would only be allowed under condition they are dressed in wide skirts with exercise pants.

Now, personally, I would not bother going to such a place. It does not help my, or my kids, vacation. When the girls in the family would go, the boys would be looking for what to do, and when the boys would go the girls would be bored and lookign for what to do. When we go to activities during vacation, we generally go as a family. A place like this is not a family exercise. If one or two of my boys wanted to go and the rest of the family wasn't interested, I would be fine with them going there. i just don't see it as a family activity.

Some people are up in arms about this. They are upset, especially because the park is sponsored by the City of Jerusalem. They point to the recent decision by the Supreme Court saying that separation in the public sphere is illegal, and having city sponsorship for such a separation is a breach of that.

The City of Jerusalem's response was that this activity is designated specifically fr the haredi community, while in other activities that are designated for the genral community there is no spearation. The City respects all the different sectors in the city and is prepared to provide service to all the diverse populations living in the city, each according to desire and flavor. Out of respect and understanding for this community, the activity is being held with separation [of the genders].

That sounds good to me. Not everything has to be a fight. Each community and what is appropriate for it. If this was the mian activity the city was sonsoring and it was located in central jerusalem for the whole city to enjoy and they operated only with separation of the genders, I would say they have a good complaint. But this is a limited activity in a specific neighborhood where this is what they want. I see nothing wrong with it. Live and Let Live works in both directions..

4 comments:

  1. Is it now "mehadrin" to endanger your family while hiking? I saw many haredi families yesterday walking along the shoulder or actually trying to cross the 443 in the middle- not anywhere near a light. Insane.

    I agree with what you said in this post. But there are laws and the iriya needs to stick to them while providing services for the whole city.

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  2. Sometimes I wonder what would happen if the Chareidim could figure out how to reproduce through parthenogenesis. Then they could get rid of all their women altogether...

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  3. I still don't understand why mothers are not allowed to accompany boys to the activities for boys that are laid on by the BS iriyah.
    What about the children who don't have a father in their lives? or who (chas v'shalom) are at work during the afternoon....?
    What exactly are they doing with the little boys that the mothers are not allowed to see?

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  4. maybe it is illegal. maybe an enterprising group of people might want to challenge the city sponsoring such events.

    Do they also sponsor other events, that are not separated by gender, for the non-haredi communities? They should be sponsoring for everybody.

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