More creeping halacha

Israel/Palestine
on 48 Comments

More signs of creeping halacha in New York City. From the New York World:

On the morning of October 12, Melissa Franchy boarded the B110 bus in Brooklyn and sat down near the front. For a few minutes she was left in silence, although the other passengers gave her a noticeably wide berth. But as the bus began to fill up, the men told her that she had to get up. Move to the back, they insisted.

They were Orthodox Jews with full beards, sidecurls and long black coats, who told her that she was riding a “private bus” and a “Jewish bus.” When she asked why she had to move, a man scolded her.

“If God makes a rule, you don’t ask ‘Why make the rule?’” he told Franchy, who rode the bus at the invitation of a New York World reporter. She then moved to the back where the other women were sitting. The driver did not intervene in the incident.

The B110 bus travels between Williamsburg and Borough Park in Brooklyn. It is open to the public, and has a route number and tall blue bus stop signs like any other city bus. But the B110 operates according to its own distinct rules. The bus line is run by a private company and serves the Hasidic communities of the two neighborhoods. To avoid physical contact between members of opposite sexes that is prohibited by Hasidic tradition, men sit in the front of the bus and women sit in the back.

The article continues:

The arrangement that the B110 operates under can only be described as unorthodox. It operates as a franchise, in which a private company, Private Transportation Corporation, pays the city for the right to provide a public service. Passengers pay their $2.50 fare not by MetroCard, but in dollar bills and coins. The city’s Franchise and Concession Review Committee defines a franchise on its website as “the right to occupy or to use the City’s inalienable property, such as streets or parks, for a public service, e.g., transportation.”

The agreement goes back to at least 1973, and last year the franchise paid the city $22,814 to operate the route, according to the New York City Department of Transportation. According to the news site Vos Iz Neias?, which serves the Orthodox Jewish community in New York City and elsewhere, the bus company has a board of consulting rabbis, which decreed that male passengers should ride in the front of the bus and female passengers in the back.

City, state and federal law all proscribe discrimination based on gender in public accommodations. “Discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations in New York City is against the law,” said Betsy Herzog, a spokeswoman for the New York City Commission on Human Rights, which investigates and prosecutes alleged violations of anti-discrimination law.

The Department of Transportation, which issues the franchise, confirms that it understands the B110 to be subject to anti-discrimination laws. “This is a private company, but it is a public service,” said Seth Solomonow, a spokesman for the DOT. “The company has to comply with all applicable laws.”

Any chance this will be taken up in Albany similarly to how Oklahoma and Wyoming tried to outlaw sharia law? It’s doubtful, but that doesn’t mean some in the Jewish community aren’t concerned.

About Adam Horowitz

Adam Horowitz is Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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48 Responses

  1. seafoid
    October 19, 2011, 4:46 pm

    Well, I guess it could be worse. They could be settlers.

  2. lysias
    October 19, 2011, 4:46 pm

    Didn’t white Southerners think their peculiar mores were dictated by God too?

    • thetumta
      October 19, 2011, 7:56 pm

      Yes, ma’am, they did. I vaguely remember riding on buses in Georgia as a youngster, they had similar rules. Although we were not a racist family, not ethnic, not religious I could sense my mother’s panic on the bus when I asked her why?
      Hej!

  3. eee
    October 19, 2011, 4:48 pm

    Hey Adam,

    Why are you complaining about these things happening in Israel when they are happening under your noses in NY? What are you going to do to stop it? Nothing of course. But you are good at preaching to Israelis while doing nothing in your own backyard.

    • pabelmont
      October 19, 2011, 5:31 pm

      Good point, eee, except that Adam IS protesting BY publishing.

      For myself, I don’t give 2 cents if halacha inconveniences Israeli Jews — they bought their ticket for that strange country and took their chance. And they can vote there.

      I only care if it inconveniences members of existing Israeli non-Jewish populations and visitors. Always assuming, of course, that the halacha-bus-rules are CONTRARY TO ISRAELI LAW. (Or international law, of course, but I am unaware of any I/L bus rules).

    • Cliff
      October 19, 2011, 5:38 pm

      Hey eee,

      Why are you complaining about Adam quoting a New York World article? Why aren’t you doing anything to stop it, when you live in Israel? But you are good at preaching at people who quote articles written by Sasha Chavkin, a journalist based in NYC.

      (Adam didn’t preach. You’re not addressing the issue of radicalization in your racist, apartheid State. Instead, you’re MORE concerned about someone QUOTING AN ARTICLE ABOUT IT.)

    • seafoid
      October 19, 2011, 5:41 pm

      NY will always be Yank, eee.
      Israel has a limited shelf life which is why it is so fascinating. What will be the catalyst that ends it? Will it happen this week?

    • Ellen
      October 19, 2011, 5:51 pm

      Hey eee,

      What strange words to write.

      Adam is doing something; he is reporting on creeping halacha in New York, or in other words “these things (also) happening in Israel.”

      Via a report, he is doing something.

      What are you doing to “stop it” in your home.

    • annie
      October 19, 2011, 6:21 pm

      hey adam, i’m sure what eee meant to say was ‘thanks so much for noticing this sham happening right under your own nose in NY, publicity like this could put a stop to it so we really appreciate you advertising it and doing something to improve the situation in your own backyard.’

      3e is just so accustomed to hanging out here day in and day out nipping on posters pantlegs like a little chihuahua his tongue got all twisted out of shape and he was baffled as to how to compliment you.

      fail..again.

    • Hostage
      October 20, 2011, 6:40 am

      What are you going to do to stop it? . . .you are good at preaching to Israelis while doing nothing in your own backyard.

      The situations are hardly analogous. The Supreme Court and the Transportation Ministry of Israel were made aware by several petitioners that women are routinely threatened and physically forced to sit in the back of sex segregated buses. Neither the Transportation Ministry nor the Supreme Court were willing to declare the buses illegal. They simply issued warnings and ruled that the segregated buses can continue to operate so long as women are not forced to accept segregated seating. link to haaretz.com

      In the United States it is patently illegal, under both federal and state statutes for any motor common carrier of passengers to operate a vehicle in which seating or service is based upon gender or Talmudic religious creeds, e.g.:
      link to law.justia.com
      link to law.justia.com

      Ordinarily it is sufficient to bring the situation to the attention of state authorities, like Ms. Herzog. But it’s always possible to petition the courts for a writ of mandamus directing officials to perform an official duty.

  4. iamuglow
    October 19, 2011, 5:47 pm

    hmm…I’m thinking there are more of these Hasidic only buses besides this one. There one I’ve seen dropping and picking up people by the diamond district in Midtown.

    I used to think they were private buses that city looked the other way about…but maybe not. Maybe they are city funded buses from Bklyn to Manhattan that are meant for residents of one connected community and no one else. How messed up would that be?

  5. Eva Smagacz
    October 19, 2011, 5:57 pm

    I once delayed a plane from London to Krakow.

    We boarded, and sitting was on first come first serve basis. Then a large group of bearded Orthodox dressed Jews came in. I was totally engrossed in a book I was reading and when a little Jewish boy asked me to move, I told him I am fine. Several minutes later he asked me to move again – annoyed by what I thought was a spoiled brat that wanted my window seat, I again refused.

    At the end the stewardess explained that I was holding up the flight up as no Jewish man was willing to seat next to me, and I had to move to a middle seat in another row, so that all male Jewish passengers could seat in their exclusive company.

    It was a very uncomfortable experience.

    • Woody Tanaka
      October 19, 2011, 6:19 pm

      “I once delayed a plane from London to Krakow.”

      Eva, you didn’t delay that plane. Those religious lunatics did. If these “men” didn’t want sit next to you, the pilot should have kicked them off and flew on ahead.

    • Potsherd2
      October 19, 2011, 7:41 pm

      This happens all the time with Saudis on flights. The plane won’t take off until everyone is seated where they won’t have contact with a prohibited person.

      But it’s egalitarian. Everybody shifts around. It’s not “men in first class, women in steerage” like it is with the haredi cultists.

    • American
      October 20, 2011, 1:23 am

      If I had been you Eva I wouldn’t have moved and the AL had no right to move you from your “assigned” seat because of anyone else’s seating preference unless it’s a security issue, which it wasn’t.

    • RoHa
      October 20, 2011, 1:58 am

      You should have agreed on condition that you were upgraded to first class.

  6. dumvitaestspesest
    October 19, 2011, 6:03 pm

    I don’t know too much about orthodox Jews from NYC , but I know that some od them support Karta Neturei ,which is a great organisation that fights very actively with Zionism.
    So hats off for them. I can even sit in the back of the bus if the members of Karta Neturei wish to occupy the front. I have a big respect for them.

    • Samuel
      October 19, 2011, 7:04 pm

      If you have such respect for them you might want to learn to call them by their actual name, Neturei Karta.

      Go ahead and sit on the back of the bus. Give up on your female rights, degrade yourself totally to these people who will call you a whore for wearing what you probably wear everyday.

      Anything goes as long as it’s anti-zionist. How pathetic can you get?

      • dumvitaestspesest
        October 19, 2011, 9:46 pm

        I do not sense too much respect coming out of your mouth.
        You tone is, to say it nicely, on the border of mild aggression towards me. How manly.
        I can handle myself , don’t you worry.
        And there is such a thing as respect. Respect for other religions, customs , traditions. If this is their custom ,and I’m on “their” bus, then I will apply to their rules. Of course, if they are fairly nice about that. I don’t feel like, I’m “giving up my female rights” by showing respect for some other customs.

        P.S. Start noticing my mistakes. There will be more of them.
        English is my second language, so take your notebook and start writing

      • American
        October 20, 2011, 2:01 am

        “And there is such a thing as respect. Respect for other religions, customs , traditions.”

        I would normally agree but this not the same. They are running a “public bus,” even if it is privately owned, it is open to the “public” and is discriminting against individuals who happen to get on their bus. You do as Rome when in Rome and as American when in America.

      • RoHa
        October 20, 2011, 2:50 am

        Let them start respecting the religions, customs, traditions, and laws of the country they live in.

      • Samuel
        October 20, 2011, 3:14 am

        This is great RoHa! That sounds straight off the website of the English National Party – only there they are refering to Muslims, Pakistanis and Blacks.
        Hasn’t multicultural society reached you yet?

      • dumvitaestspesest
        October 20, 2011, 6:55 am

        Just because is “open to the public” doesn’t have to mean a lot.
        I remember, many years ago, I was in Istanbul, Turkey,
        touring Blue Mosque that was also “open to the public”.
        It was very hot summer day. We had to,however, cover arms, wear long skirts, take off our shoes and , I don’t remember that ,
        but probably, cover our hair before entering the Mosque”.
        I did not feel like my “womenly rights were violated.
        Out of respect for local customs,religion I did it.
        Things around the world do not have revolve around me, the way I was brought up or what I was taught.

      • RoHa
        October 20, 2011, 7:41 am

        “Hasn’t multicultural society reached you yet?”

        From my perspective, “multiculturalism” (when it comes close to being conceptually coherent) is a form of apartheid, and a form of racism. The multiculturalists insist on dividing people up into groups depending on their biological ancestry. They try to trap people into the traditional cultures of their ancestors, rather than allowing them to blend into the wider society of the country in which, often, they were born.

        Yasmin Alibhai-Brown has some trenchant criticism here.
        link to fpc.org.uk

        Rather than write an essay of similar length, I will simply add that duties to fellow humans, and duties to society as a whole, take precedence over any concerns for ancestral culture, tradition, etc.

      • Jeffrey Blankfort
        October 20, 2011, 12:32 pm

        The difference, Samuel, is that those whom you refer to in England are part of the legacy and hence the victims of British colonialism and are treated as second class citizens in that country, whereas the Hassidim are no one’s victims.

        Quite the contrary, they seem to become powerful political players in whatever community they choose to settle and have managed to game the system to their benefit exactly as their brethren have done in Israel while contributing absolutely nothing positive to either society.

      • Antidote
        October 21, 2011, 2:59 am

        see also Libertarian Rand Paul’ suggestion last year which drew much fire. Where the uproar in this case?

        link to racerelations.about.com

  7. annie
    October 19, 2011, 6:14 pm

    $22,814 to operate that route? seems pretty cheap to me. i didn’t realize roads were worth so little, not to mention the right to flaunt our laws. the city should be charging more like 200 thousand a year. it’s charging aprox 450 a week or 65 dollars a day. what a friggin sham rip off. how’d they get that deal? somebody should complain bigtime. metro is loosing money hand over fist.

    this reminds me of collecting the railroad cards in the game monopoly. at these rates someone could make a killing by buying up all the routes and hardly paying the city anything for the use of the roads.

    • MRW
      October 19, 2011, 6:18 pm

      For $22,814 they could buy a van.

    • RoHa
      October 19, 2011, 10:58 pm

      “the right to flout our laws”

      But doesn’t God’s law take precedence over U.S. law?

  8. Potsherd2
    October 19, 2011, 7:39 pm

    Put the men in the back and the women in the front. Every one of these schemes ends up giving the males the good seats.

    • RoHa
      October 19, 2011, 8:47 pm

      But then the men would be able to ogle the women and get all excited! It would turn their thoughts away from God.

      The women don’t get excited by looking at the men, and anyway it hardly matters if they think about God or not, does it?

      • Potsherd2
        October 20, 2011, 11:13 am

        A thick black curtain between the sections would solve that.

        But seriously, what it comes down to is the implicit belief that only men are really Jews. Women exist to give birth to more Jews and to labor like donkeys to support the real Jews as they pray. Their thoughts about God are irrelevant, and the sound of their prayers is an offense to the real Jews.

  9. Les
    October 19, 2011, 8:03 pm

    The next thing unorthodox hip New York Jews will get excited about is how widespread is the practice of arranged marriages among unhip Jews. As for the practice of arranged marriages by more primitive religions, especially Muslim, now that’s a story for the New York Times.

  10. mudder
    October 19, 2011, 8:14 pm

    Having worked 25 years now in Dearborn, the so-called “creeping sharia” capital of North America, I can’t imagine something like this happening here. The larger war on Arab and Muslim civil rights and liberties has fostered a consensus here decrying any discrimination in any public setting.

  11. RoHa
    October 19, 2011, 8:33 pm

    “To avoid physical contact between members of opposite sexes that is prohibited by Hasidic tradition, men sit in the front of the bus and women sit in the back.”

    When I lived in Jeddah, those evil Saudis had a separate compartment for women at the back of the bus. Of course, this meant that they couldn’t pay the driver, so they rode free.

  12. Jeffrey Blankfort
    October 20, 2011, 12:44 am

    This is but one example of the power of the Hassdic Jewish community in the state of New York which has been allowed to virtually make its own laws, establish its own towns, such as Kiryas Joel, and rip off the state’s and US taxpayers without paying any price while the mainstream media looks the other way.

    One needs to read the secular NY-based Jewish weekly Forward to find out what these strange creatures are up to since it seems the mainstream media looks the other way, much like NY’s politicians who count on their votes and “bundled” cash contributions at election time. This includes covering up of cases of child molestation similar to what has been widely reported in the Catholic community only the latter doesn’t seem to have the juice with the press to cover it up

    The ideal solution to the segregated bussing? A few women, well-trained in the martial arts should mount those busses in small groups and refuse to move for these bearded neanderthals. When the first one who touches one of these women finds himself flat on his back, it will send an important message to the rest of them that is long overdue: This is not Israel and NY is not a Jewish state.

    • annie
      October 20, 2011, 12:54 am

      One needs to read the secular NY-based Jewish weekly Forward to find out what these strange creatures are up to

      or failed messiah link to failedmessiah.typepad.com

    • American
      October 20, 2011, 1:51 am

      “A few women, well-trained in the martial arts should mount those busses in small groups and refuse to move for these bearded neanderthals. ”

      Good idea and better yet make them gay women trained in martial arts….and then call the ACLU and also make sure the gay community of NY knows all about it. The Orthodox won’t have any buses left to run.
      They shouldn’t be running “public” buses anyway with that kind of policy.

    • iamuglow
      October 20, 2011, 9:01 am

      Here was a story, forget if it was reported here, about some kids who were threatened with arrest for being on a public streets in Kiryas Joel.

      link to gothamist.com

      They heard about the town because on papers its the ‘nations poorest’. The reality is the on paper poverty is a scam to get public monies.

      link to nytimes.com

      Tis krazy this goes on, flagrantly, with NY’s politicians looking the other way.

      • marc b.
        October 20, 2011, 9:42 am

        absolutely bizarre, iamuglow. yes, the cops have a tought job . . . etc., etc., etc. but, really, why is it any of their effing business if someone walking down the street takes a picture of a publicly accessible view?

    • Les
      October 20, 2011, 7:15 pm

      Oh the contradictions we do abide!

      Eruv yes, Sharia Law no.

      Male circumcision yes, female circumcision\genital mutilation no.

      Yarmulke yes, headscarf no.

      • Hostage
        October 20, 2011, 9:04 pm

        Oh the contradictions we do abide! . . . Eruv yes, Sharia Law no.

        The group Jewish People Opposed to the Eruv in Westhampton Beach claims that 85 percent Of the Village is opposed to the Eruv.

        It’s just another example of the Orthodox fundamentalist doctrine of victimhood/aggression, e.g. I’m the victim of an angry God who won’t allow me to engage in a range of normal activities outside of my place of domicile on the Sabbath, but if you let me encircle the whole town in an Eruv, then legally speaking su casa es mi casa.

        Any Palestinian can tell you how that story ends. You end up sharing your “domicile” with a bunch of oppressive nutcases and you aren’t allowed to engage in normal activities whenever they’re around, e.g. link to thedailyshow.com

      • Jeffrey Blankfort
        October 21, 2011, 12:52 am

        The idea of the Eruv itself, within which Orthodox Jews are allied to perform tasks on the Sabbath that are otherwise “not allowed” by their halacha is but another illustration of the hypocrisy and that they can be found on in public areas in 27 states not technically under their control, 47 in New York state and 36 in the city alone, is another testament to their political clout. link to en.wikipedia.org

        In Los Angeles some years back, the Lubavitchers AKA Chabad began buying whole blocks, covering up their beautiful southern California colors with battleship grey and then campaigning to close stores on nearby La Brea Blvd. that solid items to which they objected. In LA, they enjoy as much clout as they do in NY and were consequently able to violate zoning codes at will without any concern that the city would bother them.

        In NY, the late Rebbe Menachem Schneerson, who ruled over the Lubavitchers until his death and who many of these nutcases believed and still believe to be the Mosiach (the Jewish messiah), used to have an NYPD escort with sirens and the whole thing whenever he decided to visit the grave of his mother. When they tell the story of Crown Heights and the murder of Yankel Rosenbaum, a visiting Chabadnik from Australia 20 years ago after one of the movement’s speeding limousines killed a black child, young Gavin Cato, and made no move to help him, the Lubavitchers are painted as the innocent victims of a pogrom carried out by the largely Jamaican black community while the resentment caused by the city’s favoritism towards the Lubavitchers is ignored.

  13. American
    October 20, 2011, 2:10 am

    Hummm….speaking of outside the law….how about far outside the constitution…as in Homeland Security ordering the closing of NY streets because of lawful Occupy Wall Street protest.

    Naomi Wolf | How I was Arrested at Occupy Wall Street
    Naomi Wolf, Guardian UK

    Wolf writes: “Another scary outcome I discovered is that,
    when the protesters marched to the first precinct, the whole
    of Erickson Street was cordoned off – ‘frozen’ they were
    told, ‘by Homeland Security’. Obviously if DHS now has
    powers to simply take over a New York City street because of
    an arrest for peaceable conduct by a middle-aged writer in
    an evening gown, we have entered a stage of the closing of
    America, which is a serious departure from our days as a
    free republic in which municipalities are governed by police
    forces.”

    link to lists.readersupportednews.org

    • Potsherd2
      October 20, 2011, 11:16 am

      Let’s not forget that DHS is an arm of the executive branch – in other words, this is Obama’s move.

  14. pookieross
    October 20, 2011, 9:43 am

    Who wants to sit next to those guys anyway?If they are devout, they reek from not bathing.

  15. POA
    October 20, 2011, 9:52 am

    I wonder, how would these God fearing Jews react to five or ten beefy homosexual men in drag occupying the front seats of this bus????

    Damn, I’d fly to New York just to watch!!!!

  16. Justice Please
    October 20, 2011, 3:56 pm

    “Muslim law, Sharia in the US, blablablabber.” – CNN, FOX, MSNBC, ABC, CBS etc.

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