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Feb 15, 2012

Separate Hours Request Under Fire At The Upcoming Ice Festival in Jerusalem

The claim of "hadarat nashim", the exclusion of women, is getting out of hand. Do haredi Jews not have the right to style their society as they please? Does every single event and activity have to be gender-mixed or else be considered evil and abusive?

The latest complaint is regarding a request (demand perhaps) by the haredi councilmen of Jerusalem for separate hours in the upcoming International Ice Festival in Jerusalem.

The event is sponsored by the city of Jerusalem and the haredi community wants to be able to enjoy it as well, just like everyone else will enjoy it. If they do not want to have gender-mixed ice skating, I see nothing wrong with the request for some separate hours for them to enjoy. All over the USA local JCCs and even much larger and less Jewish events schedule separate hours at their events and activities for those who wish to restrict themselves in that way.

The response of the iryah is, as reported by Mynet, that they will not allow separation of men and women.

I think this has gone overboard. Perhaps one can say it might be necessary, as per the conduct delineated by the Rambam in his "Shmoneh Prakim" of attempting to uproot an extreme behavior by going to the other extreme in order to end up somewhere in the golden middle road - so perhaps one might think every instance of gender-segregation needs to be rejected, due to haredi society having gone to the extreme and imposing it in the craziest of situations as a standard. Maybe by complete rejection, even in instances where it is reasonable, we will eventually end up somewhere in the middle, allowing those who want it in reasonable situations to do so, but not turning it into a standard. I don't know if that will work or if it should or should not be attempted, but it seems to me that the automatic rejection of such requests has gone overboard.


  1. Rafi-

    The event is sponsored by, as you wrote, the city of JM.

    For the same reason the city cannot fund separate busses it cannot fund segregation at other government funded events.

    Once again, the charedi community is welcome to have private segregated events.

    Or put it this way:

    What if the Muslim community asked for Jew free days as it is against their religion to overly mix with Jews.

    Don't they have that right, by your logic, to style society how they wish?

    Or what if people asked for black free day because they think blacks are cursed by god and shouldn't mix with them?

    All these groups have the right to privately segregate according to whatever standards they choose.

    Government sponsored events must be open to all.

  2. rafi when the chareidi (and dati) community is willing to allow the secular to live their lives as they see fit, to style their society as they please, then they can make demands that their lifestyle be respected.

    from the ynetnews article on the possibility of buses on shabbat:

    "Tel Aviv is a mixed city, we need to promote unity and this move would divide the religious residents from the rest of the residents."

    exact same thing can be said about this proposal. the frum aren't the only ones with feelings.

  3. I've never heard of a JCC or any other Jewish group have seperate men and women's hours for something which requires people to be bundled up in warm clothing!

    Maybe if there was some sort of physical activity which induced sweat, or people were on display like in a play or musical, you would see a separation of men and woman, but not for something like this. It is absurd.

  4. Can someone post details of the ice festival here-mixed entrance would be fine!

  5. see http://www.gojerusalem.co.il/item_7369/%D7%A4%D7%A1%D7%98%D7%99%D7%91%D7%9C-%D7%94%D7%A7%D7%A8%D7%97-%D7%94%D7%91%D7%99%D7%A0%D7%9C%D7%90%D7%95%D7%9E%D7%99-%D7%94%D7%A8%D7%90%D7%A9%D7%95%D7%9F-%D7%91%D7%99%D7%A8%D7%95%D7%A9%D7%9C%D7%99%D7%9D

    from march 6 until april 30

  6. If they wouldn't have tried to force US to sit separately on the public bus, we wouldn't have tried to force them to ice skate mixed. To add insult to injury, we HAVE to take the bus - most of us can't afford taxis - while they don't have a NEED to skate.
    Separate hours should be available in public places when there is a general use that involves getting undressed/nakedness...bathrooms, the beach, pools...NOT for ice skating. Let them open a private rink.

  7. how about looking at the video of the ICJA wrestling team again. the lesson there is that if you have standards different than others, it |YOUR problem and accept it. You don't have to make everyone change to your set of standards.

  8. sorry Rafi..I think you're wrong on this one.

    If the charedi community wants to privately fund segregated time for men and women -- then fine. But if the gov't is footing in the bill I agree with the idea that is should be open to all. Once you start catering to one particular community than obviously one can ask why not cater to others and why only cater to charedi Jews?

  9. This has nothing - ZERO - to do with hadarat nashim, any more than having separate hours at a gym for men and women is hadarat nashim. During men's hours, women are excluded. During women's hours, men are excluded. (I think "The Way"s analogies about black and Jew-free hours are totally misplaced.)

    Now, one might argue whether this kind of event merits separate hours. That's a reasonable question. I suppose it depends on what the activities are, and how long the exhibit will be up/available.

    For ice skating, wherein people routinely bump up against one another, and where there will undoubtedly be music (giving it a bit of a "dance" feel), I can see how some religious folks may not want to do this mixed. From what I can tell, the whole thing has an "ice carnival" feel to it. There appears to be skating, slides and displays. It will probably be very crowded, and again I can see some charedi families feeling uncomfortable.

    The website says the exhibit is going to be up in "March-April". To me, that's PLENTY of time to offer a few slots for separate hours.

    Seriously, I think we're being hyper-sensitive here. If it's an event with close-quarters and physical activity, AND there's plenty of time available, the proper and reasonable thing to do is to be considerate to charedi people's needs and offer a handful of separate time slots.

    The worst that happens is they actually have a little fun - and loosen up a bit!

  10. What are you talking about re: JCCs? Aside from swimming, where it makes sense for even non charedi or even non religious people who want to swim with the same gender, what events are JCCs allowing gender segregation? I've honestly never heard of such a thing.

    In terms of this event, there's no logical reason for gender segregation. Everyone is dressed appropriately, and attending this event is no different then attending any other mixed gender event that tons of charedim do year round. I've seen charedim enjoying mixed gender tiyulim, museums, zoos. There's just no real reason for it here, other than to make a political point.

  11. Abi - the gyms, basketball courts, sports fields (I played baseball at the J and it was only boys)...
    amusement parks regularly schedule a day for the frum community and in some places they separate by hours between men and women (often when water activities are involved).

    I see it as perfectly reasonable to make some hours available for separate ice skating. Nobody was demanding the entire festival be separate, just that there be some hours allocated.

  12. Is this really the most important issue occupying Israeli minds at the moment?

    If the answer is "yes" then all I can say is ברוך השם that there is nothing more urgent or more serious going on.

  13. Rafi, you had a very frum JCC. I don't think that's the norm in most JCC across America. We didn't even have separate swim hours, let alone separate gym hours.

  14. far from frum, but they were responsive to the local frum community.
    Most of their hours for swim were mixed, and gym as well, but they did allocate some hours for separate swimming.

  15. Is it too much to ask that people get facts before commenting? Ice skating is a relatively small part of the exhibition. It's like asking the zoo or Mini Israel to have separate hours. Really?

    Not that they should even give in on the skating, of course.

  16. rafi,

    The JCC is a private religious affiliated institution.

    The city of Jm is a govt entity.

    See the difference?

    why are my examples misplaced? In the US and other places there were segregated busses and swimming pools and drinking fountains for exactly the reason I stated.

    Jm has a large Muslim Population. Why don't they have the right for Jew Free hours?

    When it's charediim demanding the govt segregate it's eidel, when anyone else does it its wrong?


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