Sisterhood Blog

Haredi Gender Segregation Spreading Dangerously

By Elana Sztokman

  • Print
  • Share Share

Just when we thought that gender segregation in Israel had become endemic, it spread further. In addition to the segregated business conference that my Sisterhood colleague Allison Kaplan Sommer reported on here, three new fronts for gender segregation have opened up in Israel, each one bringing a new version of extremism to life here.

The first is the Jerusalem light rail, which is slated to begin operating in the coming months. According to recent reports, the Haredi community has succeeded in winning gender-segregated cars. When the idea first reared its head last year, the (secular) managers of the project surprisingly expressed favor for segregation, citing the need to “serve everyone in the city.”

The idea that misogyny deserves to be accommodated by the municipality represents a frightening intrusion of warped religious thinking into public life.

Tali Farkash, a Haredi writer for YNet, writes that, “The light rail is just another battle in the war on gendered freedom of movement in Israel. This war is no longer just about specific buses in specific haredi areas. It is a nationwide war which currently includes sidewalks, supermarkets, planes, and HMOs with separate medical services.” In addition, the Supreme Court ruled it illegal to enforce segregation, but the powers that be seem not to have noticed.

The next front is on the Internet. There is now a separate-gender Facebook-type platform, FaceGlat, designed to ensure that men and women don’t mix in virtual, as well as real, life.

Asked why even men and women who are married to each other cannot connect on Faceglat, the site’s founder responded, “They can meet at home, on the sofa in their living room.”

Actually they can’t. Because a third new front in gender segregation is at home. According to a report in Haaretz,, the latest trend in the Haredi world is gender segregated family Shabbat meals. Women sit in the kitchen and men in the dining room. So much for married couples being able to meet at home. Indeed, what used to be seen as the entire purpose of a family meal – i.e., family members talking, interacting and connecting – is now seen as a terrible threat to piety.

This is all sad. It signals the death natural human relationships, eliminating even the most basic norms of conversation, erasing all possibility for boys and men to learn to see members of the opposite sex as people rather than as objects.

It’s also very troubling because this gender-segregation bug is like the Ebola virus, spreading uncontrollably and taking over everything with no end in sight. And it’s supported by economics and greed. Whether the light rail managing company or Internet entrepreneurs, some business people look at Haredi social trends with dollar signs in their eyes. Even secular leadership doesn’t seem to have the courage or the rhetorical ability to fight it.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Haredi, Gender, Faceglat

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • Clueless parenting advice from the star of "Clueless."
  • Why won't the city give an answer?
  • BREAKING NEWS: Israel has officially suspended peace talks with the Palestinians.
  • Can you guess what the most boring job in the army is?
  • What the foolish rabbi of Chelm teaches us about Israel and the Palestinian unity deal:
  • Mazel tov to Idina Menzel on making Variety "Power of Women" cover! http://jd.fo/f3Mms
  • "How much should I expect him and/or ask him to participate? Is it enough to have one parent reciting the prayers and observing the holidays?" What do you think?
  • New York and Montreal have been at odds for far too long. Stop the bagel wars, sign our bagel peace treaty!
  • Really, can you blame them?
  • “How I Stopped Hating Women of the Wall and Started Talking to My Mother.” Will you see it?
  • Taglit-Birthright Israel is redefining who they consider "Jewish" after a 17% drop in registration from 2011-2013. Is the "propaganda tag" keeping young people away?
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • Would you get to know racists on a first-name basis if you thought it might help you prevent them from going on rampages, like the recent shooting in Kansas City?
  • "You wouldn’t send someone for a math test without teaching them math." Why is sex ed still so taboo among religious Jews?
  • Russia's playing the "Jew card"...again.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.