Aug 14, 2019

do Haredim really demand and need gender-segregation?

The sight is very familiar. Summer vacation. Bein Hazmanim. Everyone is touring around the country at the same time, mostly up north where it is slightly cooler and the trails are peppered with rivers to hike through and/or  cool off in, along with other water experiences such as river rafting, the Kineret, and many other activities. it is a fun time of year, but the attractions are all crowded with people - the entire rainbow of the Israeli public.

Here is a picture from the entrance to the Abu Kayak rafting site along the Jordan River from earlier today. It was posted to Facebook commenting on the need for appropriate entertainment opportunities for the Haredi community and that the Haredi community deserves to be serviced equally as everyone else is. The suggestion being that the current situation is inadequate with just several days over the summer designated at such sites for the religious public. Being a day designated for the religious public basically means people are requested to come fully dressed and not scamper around shirtless or in bikinis. As you can see in the picture, it does not mean the morning is hours for men only and the afternoon hours are for women, or Mondays for men and Tuesdays for women.

posted by Leah Aharoni

Now, something here makes no sense to me.

A concert in the park must be 100% separate. Even a compromise (recommended by the judge but rejected by all parties involved including the Haredi parties) to have a mens section, a womens section, and a family section is not good enough, but the Haredi community demands the event to be completely 100% separate seating.

Yet, a water park, rafting on a river, where people are swimming int he water and splashing and getting wet and soaking their clothes, that is perfectly fine to be mixed, family style.

That makes no sense.

I'll tell you what the difference is, as I see it.

The difference is that one event, the water park, is populated by people who want to go have fun. By their own initiative. Most people in the Haredi community, not everyone of course, want to have fun and do thigns with their family. They go out to concerts and sit mixed seating with their families. they go to the parks all over the country and are fine with the crowds being mixed. They go to hikes on trails, they go bowling, they hike through the river, all with mixed crowds. At the annual Sukkos concert in Bet Shemesh with no official separation (there is a sectioned off area for separate dancing), hundreds of Haredim show up to enjoy. No separation necessary. Most Haredim want separation at weddings and in shul, and that is mostly it.

The other event, the concert in Afula, is arranged by askanim. Askanim like to tell people what to do. According to the askanim, the Haredim need 100% separation. Nobody is even willing to speak up and say "I am perfectly fine with family style seating", probably because they are worried about the askanim getting them thrown out of shul and their kids thrown out of school. People are only rarely willing to oppose askanim publicly.

I think it is a shame that the community cannot have events catered to their needs and desires. I understand the legal claim against it, but I do not understand the limit of the opposition. Yet, with everyone upset that this womens lobby that appealed against it, and the judge that ruled against, claiming that they are patronising and telling the Haredim how to live their lives - I just want to say that most Haredim are perfectly fine with mixed, family-style, events, and had this concert been planned this way to start (not including Motti Steinmetz who personally would not sing at such a concert but other performers would and do), nobody would have said boo except a few askanim. As much as the womens lobby and the judge wants to tell people how to live their lives, the haredi askanim are equally as guilty of this.

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  1. Some good news for the Jews. A compromise was reached in Afula. All with approval of the government.

  2. of course, as pointed out elsewhere, if you want to see moti steinmetz , the crowd must be separate. or else you will have an audience but no performer ,since he will never perform for a mixed audience

  3. I do not think your analysis is correct. While many chareidim and chareidi-lite would settle for a somewhat mixed event where there are limited alternatives, a large group, possibly even a majority, would not. Ultimately, the result is that large groups are being excluded.
    BTW,is there really actually a law that forbids subsidising separate events, or is this just under a general principle of equality, etc.

  4. As Anonymous wrote, in the concert case, it is the performer who will not compromise. You cannot really relate it to other venues or events.

  5. Yet, a water park, rafting on a river, where people are swimming int he water and splashing and getting wet and soaking their clothes, that is perfectly fine to be mixed, family style.

    This raises a pet peeve of mine. There is no problem with "mixed swimming" in the sense of people of both genders being in the water at the same time. It's not like the water conveys tumah from one to the other.

    The problem is that in the typical beach or swimming pool, people of the opposite gender walk around very scantily clad. That is a serious problem, at least for a man to attend, because of Venishmarta mikol davar ra.

    (A woman who goes to a beach or swimming pool fully covered, such as to take little children there, is not an issue. I know of very frum women who do that.)

    How that applies in these water parks, I don't know, never been there.

    1. agreed regarding the swimming, though there is the issue of wet shirts and clothes that become more revealing than when they were dry.
      regardless of that, it is still far more of a problem (potential or actual) than sitting in the grass in family groups listening to Motti Steinmetz sing...

    2. It's not just the dress. To me it's also being "part" of someone else's recreation. If I run in a race, somehow I don't feel like I'm "with" the other people there. But if I'm in a swimming pool, or the beach is crowded enough, I feel like I'm "with" the others. Would I play a mixed softball game? Within my extended family yes, outside - I personally would feel awkward. This isn't halacha, but it is some kind of sensitivity that is related, and obviously different people will feel differently about it. I'm not even sure how exactly to describe it.

  6. More isolated beaches like in Netanya or Naharia or Ashdod, may women fully clothed come with their young children.

  7. Cause you really can't seem to think of any difference between mixed concerts (singing dancing etc) and water rafting... I think some common sense is needed

  8. Come on! Get real.
    Sitting at a concert for 2-3 hours is very different than waiting on line in a mixed crowd. Going rafting in the same river is not the same as sitting together at a concert.
    You might have a point about some moderate Chareidim who aren't as machmir as the rest, but I don't think they they are as many as you are making it.


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