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Women ride in back on sex-segregated Brooklyn bus line

The B110 bus travels a public route but follows private, religious rules separating the sexes

UPDATE 10/26/11: Bus company agrees to end segregation on the B110.

The B110 bus connects Williamsburg with Borough Park in Brooklyn

Sasha Chavkin/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 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.”

Following the New York World’s inquiry, Solomonow said DOT would contact Private Transportation Corporation. “We are reaching out to the company about this alleged incident to ask for its response, with the expectation that it will take steps to prevent the occurrence of incidents of this nature,” he said.

The B110 bus shares stops with MTA buses

Melissa Franchy/Special to the New York World

Herzog said the Human Rights Commission would not investigate the B110 unless someone filed a complaint. But its website states that “anyone who provides goods and services to the general public is considered a public accommodation” and that it illegal for public accommodations to “set different terms for obtaining those goods or services” to different groups.

Ross Sandler, a professor at New York Law School and editor of the CityLaw newsletter, said that anti-discrimination laws apply to bus franchises, but that religious groups are sometimes granted exceptions. “Do all these laws apply? Yes, they apply to buses that are franchises,” Sandler said. “The question is whether there is an exception for this particular bus line.”

The Transportation Department said that the B110 had not been granted any exceptions to anti-discrimination laws.

Calls to the offices of Private Transportation Corporation also went unreturned. We tried calling the home of Jacob Marmurstein, the company’s president, but were told he was unavailable.

The New York World will be keeping a close eye on the practices aboard the B110 bus and the city’s response – and we will let you know when we hear more.

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194 Comments

  1. I believe that there is a bus line to Monsey that is similar. However, a bus to Monsey would be an interstate bus and would fall under the rules of the ICC. On another note, if the City decides to end this practice, there will surely be some work around – how about a co-op that owns buses and allows shareholders in the co-op to ride the bus – can such a bus make its own rules regarding seating? No more need for a franchise.

    • If the bus line became a co-op, it would only be allowed to accept shareholders as passengers. If it picked up passengers from the general public — even one, it would be subject to anti-discrimination rules. This company would never do that because it would lose much of its business.

  2. Unbelievable!! I don’t care about religion–if it’s open to the public this should not stand. What if someone is visiting, utilizes the service and is told what Ms. Franchy was told. I personally wouldn’t have abided. THEN would the driver have stepped in? Stay on this one, NYW.

    • Are you certain this doesn’t happen in Peru? I didn’t know this happened in the United States until I read this article. Unless you are familiar with every public transportation service and route in every city in Peru, I don’t think you can make such a blanket and judgmental statement.

  3. i would not move to the back, and i damn well would file a discrimination lawsuit against them. i don’t care what religion you are, using it as an excuse to treat women like second class citizens is completely unacceptable.

    • Did you see any rules on the bus ?? Did the driver tell you to move ? No !! Acutely a passenger told you to move so what are you complaining about the bus company?? You got a problem with the chassidic Jews that’s all so say it !!!!

  4. Did the bus driver send you to the back ?? No!! Actually some passenger told you 2 go so what do you want from the bus company ??

    • This would have worked JUST AS WELL to serve the purposes of this religious group. Wouldn’t that be discrimination against men? The double standard is ridiculous… that women being asked to do anything they don’t want to is somehow more discriminatory than asking the same of a man.

      • If a man doesn’t want to share a public bus with women that is his issue and he can use his legs to get wherever he needs to go.

      • Are not orthodox women expected to walk BEHIND men?

        Orthodox culture is caught up in archaic practices that the rest of the citizens of New York City would find repressive towards women. I think most non Orthodox men would agree that is the case here.

        If this bus is to be assigned a number and follow a regular route with signs on poles that are on public sidewalks then they have to accommodate secular New Yorkers. That is the law of New York City, and of the United States.

        • This is actually not true. I can guarantee that this opinion is very much a minority opinion and portraying it as the majority opinion and general practice is offensive. Chassidic Jews feel it is of the utmost importance to ensure modesty in all aspects of life (something American culture could learn a thing or two about). Agreed that yes occasionally there are situations where it goes too far. However, people (such as yourself it seems) are too often critical of things they do not understand. I would encourage you to take the time to actually learn the laws before criticizing them ignorantly.

  5. What happens when the Hasidic women riders on the bus line rise up and state–in court and in the media- they want the gender segregation as a religious and moral right? It’s going to happen because they really want it as an expression of their personal and social religious freedom. The religious Jews, heretofore staunch Democrats, just threw out a Modern Orthodox Jew (David Weprin) in the 9th Congressional District because he championed same sex marriage. That received national media coverage, and so will this as the majority culture attempts to obliterate a self sustaining voluntarily insular centuries old religio-ethnic subculture

    • It doesn’t matter whether or not they do. If everyone in the world is OK with – or even supportive of – something that is illegal, it is still illegal and will not be permitted. If these Orthodox women want to try to overturn local, state and federal law (and really, they’ll need some luck given their small numbers and the specific goal they would have in mind of allowing gender or other types of discrimination to persist), then they may attempt to do so. The easier task would be to create or charter a private service not subsidized by the citizens of this city, most of whom would probably not be sympathetic.

      America is especially tolerant of religious minorities, and the especially insular (as you have noted) communities are almost entirely free to live as they wish with impunity. I think that if this community took specific measures to ensure that no contact occurred with outside groups who might flaunt their conventions, then we would not be hearing about this. Because they have not, they have to abide by the rules of the majority society in which they reside, or attempt to change them.

    • ee mann at October 19, 2011 at 12:41 am said:

      “What happens when the Hasidic women riders on the bus line rise up and state … they want the gender segregation as a religious and moral right?”

      If the Hassidic men and women don’t wish to mix for whatever reason then they are free not to mix, but they can’t impose their restrictions on other people. It really isn’t that complicated.

    • All the world’s Hasidic women could stand and testify that they want to be segregated. It’s irrelevant. They can self segregate all the day long.

      One would only need the testimony of a single non-Hasidic (or Hasidic not desiring to be discriminated against) whose testimony would be relevant.

      It’s a public bus. Look, this is very simple to those wanting discriminatory practices. Privatize the bus and get rid of the public access signs.

  6. Guys, you need to understand & respect other persons religion, this buses serves ONLY the jewish people once a year comes up a non-jewish guy, #2 it doesn’t meant discrimination that’s the one of the nicest thing by Judaism men & women are by all public places divided & none gets offended, pls respect our jewish laws

    • Wow you statement sounds like those screaming about Sharia law coming here. There are no other laws but those provided to you under the Constitution and it does not provide for you to have your own laws. Buy your own bus and close it to the public, if you choose to discriminate.

      • YOU ARE SOOOOOOO RIGHT. SOMETIMES I FEEL LIKE WE HAVE TO BE ON PINS AND NEEDLES WITH OUR JEWISH FRIENDS. LIKE THEY ARE THE ONLY ONES WITH SPECIAL RIGHTS AND WE MUST FOLLOW THEM OR WE ARE ANTI-JEW. GOD FORBID IF THERE WAS A MUSLIM BUS.

    • No, you need to understand and respect the laws of this nation. This bus serves anyone who pays the fare. It is not only for these jerks.

      If it weren’t meant as discrimination, then the bus would be divided into left and right, rather than front and back. Or the men would be in the back every other week. Or, you guys could do what the rest of us adults manage to do on a daily basis and actually interact with other human beings.

    • I’m a Jew. Don’t you EVER invoke my religion to justify this garbage.

      This bus is NOT “only serving the jewish people.” They’re operating it like a public bus line and accepting fares from the general public. Therefore, they need to follow the same rules as any other public bus line. Don’t like it? As another reader pointed out, you have the option of converting it to a co-op and making it a truly private bus line. But you can’t have it both ways, taking money from the general public as passengers and then making up your own rules of how to operate. The fact that your own religious rules are in contradiction to the laws is YOUR problem. YOU need to “respect the law,” not violate it and then demand the rest of us need to “respond your religion.”

    • NO – if this has a city bus line number ie. B110 – then this is considered a city bus and abides by the rules and regulations of all city transport. If this is a PRIVATE bus – meaning a “charter” or community owned bus and does NOT accept fares from the general public – do whatever you want.

    • Please respect our laws… Why is it that we have to follow you while you ignore our rules? you do whatever you want in private but in public we all have to set differences aside and work together. This goes for all. If a public bus is being converted to carry only jews , you hijacked it.
      No God has ever come up with a rule like that. And if it did im sorry it intervenes with mine so i can not comply..
      I could ask you to understand my religion and ask you to follow my guidelines.. Even the act of asking is disrespectful to a holder of a different believe. Please set aside what u think and follow my view..because my god sais so… Make a distinction between private and public and we are all ok.

    • No, this bus serves the public, just like the article says. Just because certain people ride it more than others doesn’t mean it doesn’t serve the public.

      Could I say that a bus route doesn’t serve white people because white people very rarely use that route? No, that’s absurd.

    • Yoelyg, suppose your religion required that whites and blacks sit in different parts of the bus (I know it’s difficult to imagine that anyone could ever want such an arrangement.) Would you feel that your religion had to be respected in a public facility? Now, just how is your 2011 argument for Jews different from the 1960s argument for Southern Baptists?

    • I don’t have to respect anyone’s religion; I don’t have to know about anyone’s religion. I’ll respect individuals until they start pushing their religion on me. You want the “one guy” (I think you mean woman) that gets on the bus every year to respect your religious laws when you can’t even respect the laws of the country you live in? If one guy gets on the bus a year, that is a woman, and doesn’t sit in the back of the bus, then that person clearly isn’t a follower of Hasidic law and can easily be ignored by all the Hasidic folks on the bus…the public bus.

  7. Why do they make the women sit in the back of the bus? If the sole purpose is to separate men from women and not to denigrate women, why are the women never allowed in front?

    This is reminiscent of the bad old days in the South before and during the civil rights struggle. It makes these men look very bad.

    Long live the memory of Rosa Parks!

    • If they are not “sending the women to the back” as a form of denigration, why is there such stigma? Because they have to walk an extra ten feet? Well then, I am offended by public facilities that don’t have a women’s bathroom at every location there’s a mens one… why should I have to walk an extra couple of hundred feet or up/down a flight of stairs, simply because it was easier for the architects and builders to design it that way? Outrage! (geez)

      • Yes, of course making one group walk an extra ten feet than another is discriminatory. Are you familiar with what discrimination means? Perhaps you should review the definition.

    • I agree, why not make make them sit on separate sides of the bus, rather than in back? Because of some quote from their scribes or becasue thats how theyve been doing it for thousands of years??? bah!!

      “If god makes a rules you dont question god” Even they have to know what horeshit that is..

  8. This story was published in the Failed Messiah blog Failedmessiah.com this morning under the byline of Shmarya Rosenberg.

    Rosenberg gave absolutely no credit to the author of this story, and didn’t mention her by name.

    Recently, there was a case of Hasidim in Williamsburg nailing signs into trees demanding (in Yiddish) that women “step aside” for men on the sidewalks. Someone saw the sign and called Rosenberg, who duly reported on the story (with pictures of the offending signs). Several days later, due to complaints to the Parks Department, the signs were taken down by the city. This was reported by the NY Daily News, which actually sent reporters into the field to interview Williamsburg residents, something FailedMessiah.com didn’t do.

    Yet Rosenberg accused the NY Daily News (and a couple TV stations which also reported on the story) of “stealing” it from him.

    What a hypocrite.

    • Morris,

      I’m not sure whether the Rosenberg’s piece on FailedMessiah.com has been rewritten since you posted, but they do link to our reporting several times. We’re happy to see that our story piqued their interest, as well, and intrigued by the further reporting they’ve added!

  9. Time for “Slutwalks” through neighborhoods these creeps think they own…..Time for women to exert their rights under New York State law and take sight-seeing rides on this bus line topless…..

    They are growing in numbers rapidly and their bloc politics are corrupting the city faster and faster…

    • Hooray for slutwalk! They would really straighten out more than their hair. It’s time for them to get with the modern world, seriously.

  10. “The agreement goes back to at least 1973, and last year the franchise paid the city $22,814 to operate the route”

    Why haven’t they paid the franchise fee the last 38 years?

  11. This is ridiculous! As an orthodox Jewish woman, this article offends me and is the epitome of religious ignorance and intolerance.

    I can understand why this policy might seem ‘discriminatory’ but in truth, you are interpreting the situation incorrectly. Is it “discrimination” that women can’t use the mens bathroom?? No, because what people do in a bathroom is considered “private” and they have the right to keep that from the opposite sex. To these women, physical touch is just as private, and they CHOOSE to reserve it for other women, spouses and family only. The policy on this bus was simply established to help facilitate this DESIRE in its passengers. You may think this notion is antiquated, but saying that constructs designed to facilitate their choice is discrimination is religious oppression. Is a women’s only gym discrimination? Is having a “women’s swim” hour at a public pool discrimination? One could argue that because this is a “public” service, it should comply to society standards for seating. However, there are examples all over of public spaces and funds being relegated for specific use – children’s play areas, dog runs, rooms for nursing women, paid maternity leave, etc. The fact is, society is designed to most easily facilitate a non-religious man’s regular activities, and accommodating the rest of society sometimes requires making these kinds of designations.

    The bus could as easily have said “men on the left, women on the right” or vice versa and it would have yielded the result the Rabbis were trying to accomplish. I don’t know for sure why they chose “men in front and women in back”, but I can guarantee that every one of the Orthodox women that rides that bus is totally comfortable with it. In all likelihood, it probably has to do with the fact that these women are often engaged stay-at-home moms who bring their small children with them, and the bus driver preferred to have the distracting noise localized at the far end of the bus.

    Either way, writing this kind of article without taking any time to understand the people you are writing about is at best bad reporting, and at worst a far greater instance of discrimination than the supposed one outlined in this article.

    • You can’t possibly be serious. Are you really so self-absorbed that you find this article to be “intolerant?”

      The bus line is accepting the general public as passengers. They’re using city bus stops. They’ve operating as a public bus line, and therefore subject to the same rules as any true public bus line. You want to run by your own rules? Fine…so you need to make it a private bus line, like a co-op. Then you’ll be on your own and you can make whatever rules you want…but you’d also have to give up the revenue from the general public. You can’t accept someone’s $2.50 and then tell them to sit in the back of the bus. It just doesn’t work that way. It’s YOUR PROBLEM that your religion tells you to practice illegal discrimination. YOU need to work it out and find your own solution (like running a truly private bus line at a higher cost to yourself), not expect the rest of us to accommodate you.

      And that nonsense about gender-segregated bathrooms? Was that an attempt at humor or did you honestly believe that was a valid argument in favor of segregated buses?

    • It doesn’t matter if “every one of those Orthodox women that rides that bus is totally comfortable with it.” It is ILLEGAL. We do not discriminate in this country. If you would like to discriminate and live your life as a second class citizen, do not use public funds and public busses to do so.

      Can you also guarantee us that every single woman in a burka likes wearing it? Does every single woman on Warren Jeffs’ compound want to be there?

      These women have been brainwashed and beaten down their entire lives. They don’t know any better than the back of the bus. You should try looking into American history to figure out why this is so offensive. In fact, you’re sounding fairly brainwashed yourself, with your talk of the bus driver putting women and children in the back because they’re distractions! He has no right to do that for any reason! Do you understand?

      This has nothing to do with understanding. This is about blatant discrimination on a public bus.

    • Liorah, what about non-Orthodox Jewish women who might ride the B110 bus? I’m willing to bet they’re not “totally comfortable” being ordered to move to the back of the bus, nor should they be pressured to do so.

    • Sure, if you want to always ride in the back of the bus that’s up to you. And if certain men always want to ride in the front of the bus, that’s up to them. But what you can’t do is tell women who don’t want to ride in the back of the bus that they have to – just because of your private religion.
      “The policy on this bus was simply established to help facilitate this DESIRE in its passengers.” But if it is a public bus then there will be passengers who don’t have this desire, as you call it. And you have no right to impose.

    • The dissenting opinions to Liorah Abrams make it clear that these Jews do not consider other women’s opinions valid. It’s all about them. Well, what about a non-jewish woman? Try asking that of a strong, black woman who doesn’t cower and doesn’t mind making a scene and is, in fact, waiting to to be confronted.
      You are in America. Deal with other genders, other secular people. Physical separation is no guarantor of inculcating respect for men or women. It reinforces a set of rules for each that is unequal and impractical. If you want to live the self segregated life, get out of this country, or at least leave this city. America is huge; there’s space in the mid/southwest for this type of backward inconsiderate nonsense.

    • I feel YOU LIORAH didnt take the time to understand the people being written about.

      You say this: __I can understand why this policy might seem ‘discriminatory’ but in truth, you are interpreting the situation incorrectly. __ and you are wrong. The policy doesnt seem discriminatory, it IS. The situation IS NOT being interpreted incorrectly as ladies must only sit @ the back non Hasisidc Jew Melissa Franchy was told by your Hasidic brothers to MOVE TO THE BACK!
      Your example of the toilets is stupid bc in public ladies andmen have to pee seperatly: ladies sit while men stand.
      The Hasidic Jews may be the majority who ride the bus but they do not own the bus. If the de facto rule was ladies/kids @ back, men @ front, fine. But there are signs and demarcations on the bus. WTF. So many Jewish broters and sisters marched with AfrAm in the 60s, so what is happening? Is this Hasidisma new thing?

      The bus rules may be de facto But the moment the Hasidic men demanded that move to the back theyviolated the law.

      I also feel that if it were ladies on left men on right or if it wasnt always ladies @ back that would be better.

      B110 is a PUBLIC bus so it have to follow the laws of NY/USA.

      The jewish community is very upper middle class anyways so it is no trouble for them to buy and operate their own bus.

    • All of what u said is understandable BUT this bus runs in and as a public line.Example, if you go to the Zoo with your family and pay but they tell you oh by the way you must wear a head scarf and cover yourself because the majority of the people that come here are muslim how would you feel. You can not put a claim on something that it’s public. No one and No Ones religion is above the law.

    • To Liorah,
      In this country we all are granted the freedom to choose. If you choose to abide by the Hasidic customs and rules, that is your choice. And that is fine. However, on a city-owned vehicle, no one has the right to enforce their rules on anyone else. Ms. Franchy shouldn’t have had to move to the back if she didn’t wish to. If the Hasidic man wanted her to move, maybe he could have started the conversation by ASKING her to RESPECT the religion, and explain why women are required to sit in the back. As for myself, I respect those that respect me. I am perfectly capable of conducting myself properly in mixed company and I expect no less from anyone else. I pay the same fare as anyone else, I choose to sit where I want, the same as they do.

    • These very private women can continue to CHOOSE to reserve touch for other women – who cares? Nobody is seeking to stop them. THEY are seeking to stop other women from CHOOSING other outcomes. They can’t do that on a public bus.

      I cannot force you to sit at the front of the bus and you cannot force me to sit at the back of the bus.

      What a silly notion to think writing about discriminatory practices is in itself discrimination. There is no reason to presume that the reporter is unfamiliar with the Hasidic faith, but it doesn’t really matter because this sort of discrimination is illegal in the US (whether practiced by Hasidic Jews or Atheists), and that is what the article is about.

  12. If this was some sort of thing run by Dominicans or Haitians, or Koreans or Mennonites or what have you, you detractors would all be saying how wonderful it was that we have culturally distinct communities in the city who maintain their languages and customs, contributing to the vibrant diversity that New York City is known for. It is only because of your hatred for orthodox Judaism that you make an issue where no issue is to be made. Shame on you! If the Wmsbg-BP bus line is done away with, I can just hear the hipsters complaining about how crowded the J and M and L trains will be with “those people”.

    • Are you seriously trying to argue that people would be ok with this if it were a bus full of Haitians? Are you new to this country?

      • Yes I am. If this were a bus full of ANY other distinct cultural group (with the possible exception of Muslims) people would be clamoring that we respect their “rights”.

        If that were not the case, we wouldn’t have programs such as Spanish-language education or voting instructions in Chinese.

    • Paranoid, eh? How quickly the race card comes out. Ad hominem attacks never work. Also, who cares what hipsters think?! Schnook.

    • larry : no. Just as there are jewish enclaves, there are the dominicans enclaves, haitian enclaves, chinatown, korean enclaves, japanese, indian, pakistani, etc.
      THAT is culturally distinct communities.

      There hasnt ever and wont ever be a dominican bus, a haitian bus, etc.

      It isnt hatred for Orthdox Judaism. Those who practise it are fine to sit seperately. But they cannot for non Hasidic Jews to do so.

    • No shame on you for what you had said. No one is hateing on the reigion. This is about a bus taking money from the public and making there own laws ones you are in. You live in america you must follow the american laws. If you want kosher and everything kosher for your children you send them to private school where it runs only by private money. but, if you send them to public school you should not expect to receive special treatment.

    • What nonsense! Cultural diversity is awesome until one culture tries to force it’s own customs on everyone else in the public domain.

    • “With the possible exception of Muslims.”

      Are you KIDDING me? If Muslims did this it would be all over national media and some dense Republican commentator would be deriding it as an example of Sharia Law invading America. Don’t try to play the victim. The Jews are hardly discriminated against in this country, especially when compared to the way other minority groups are treated. Public services should be subject to public laws, regardless of religious or cultural customs. If you want to segregate based on gender so that a man and woman’s knees don’t accidentally bump together on a bus, then buy a bus and make the service private. You don’t get to be an exception to the rule.

  13. According to Vos Iz Neias, “the bus company’s board of consulting rabbis directed that male passengers occupy the front of the bus and females the back.” That “decree” has no authority over the general public, and any attempt by drivers to enforce this decree would be unconstitutional and could be prosecuted. However, if members of this religious community voluntarily choose to comply with this decree, that is up to them, and strongly tied to their faith, and government probably shouldn’t intervene.

    • ivory ; i agree. if the hasidic jews want to seperate themselves, the are free to do so.

      they cannot force others.

      it was wrong of them to force melissa to the back.

  14. “I can guarantee that every one of the Orthodox women that rides that bus is totally comfortable with it.”

    What a moronic statement. How would you possibly know about *every* one of the women — and guarantee it, no less.

    I happen to know many Orthodox women who find the arrangement degrading and infuriating. They live in an oppressive society where speaking up leads to societal (and even familial) ostracization, so they keep their mouths shut. Ask around, listen and learn.

    • My apologies. You’re right, I should not have made such a qualifying statement about people whom I have never spoken with (ahem, author/editor). What I meant to say is that it’s been MY experience, in MY community, that MOST women appreciate the value of these types of “strictures”, as they simplify many potentially awkward dynamics, which is really what I imagine and HOPE was the fundamental goal of the decision made by these Rabbis. Understand, when orthodox jewish men and women find themselves in situations outside of their comfort level, the result is nothing dramatic… just awkwardness and potential embarrassment. Most people I know would be happy to avoid that kind of feeling. If you want to discuss whether ‘our’ culture should generate that kind of sentiment amongst it’s followers, that is a different discussion… but many of us find beauty in the specialness of our relationships.

      The fact that the women you know are choosing to interpret this as degrading and oppressive indicates to ME that either 1.) the sub-community in which they live has failed to achieve the balance between preserving the distinct roles of women and men and facilitating both groups in their daily pursuits. This leads to these women interpreting “back of the bus” in the same way as the rest of society does – as oppressive (which, yes, I understand that this is exactly what this was meant to be for hundreds of years, in so many circumstances.) Or 2.) these women have lost touch with the beauty of being an observant Jewish woman, and anything that reminds them of this fact upsets them. I’m not sure which situation is more tragic, but it is NOT what the strictures are there for, and I hope that these women/communities can find ways to overcome these challenges and reorient themselves with their true essence and spiritual inheritance.

  15. Liorah, the problem is that this bus line is a public service, so they can’t MAKE women sit in the back if they don’t want to. If members of the community CHOOSE to do it, that is different. The woman who boarded the bus is not Hasidic, and yet they told her she HAD to move to the back. That violates federal and state laws against discrimination. And please don’t compare riding a bus to using a bathroom or locker room (where separation of the sexes is nondiscriminatory because of possible exposure of private body parts).

  16. To Ms. Abrams:

    Riding a bus isn’t the same as using a public toilet, although I suspect some of these “Hasidic” buses smell like one.

    It’s public accommodation, and the laws have to be followed. Not “laws” concocted by some rabbinical board, but the laws of the land.

    There are two solutions to this problem: First, as one responder pointed out, this could be turned into an exclusive cooperative, with only members allowed to ride. This would undoubtedly cost the company lots of revenue, and if the company is turned into a cooperative, control of the company as well. I doubt if Mr. Murmelstein would like either. Second, you and your fellow hasids can join the 21st Century. If that’s inconvenient for you, you can hail a cab, drive, or stay home.

    BTW, a “women’s swim hour” in a public pool would be unconstitutional. This isn’t Israel.

    • Ok, here’s a question for you: if airports created two lines – one for “men” and one for “women” so that people who felt uncomfortable being frisked by someone of the opposite sex could travel in peace, would that be ‘unconstitutional’? Separateness, in and of itself, is not against the constitution… the problem comes if it leads to inequality. The people who set up the system on this bus did not do it to create an ‘unequal’ situation for men and women… if it comes across as such, perhaps simply trying to alert them to this and making suggestions such as changing it to “Left, Right” or making it so half the bus circuits have women in the front would be a more appropriate response then turning litigious and contributing to the hate and misunderstanding that is so toxic to our society.

      • So you’re saying there are no “secular” women who’d like the choice not to sit next to some random man? I know plenty of girls who hate taking the bus or subway, for exactly that reason. It may be wrapped up in the guise of religiosity, or marred by the ‘discriminatory’ language of “back of the bus”, but women (or men!) feeling uncomfortable on public transportation is not all that radical, or crazy to imagine society making some adjustments to accomodate.

        I suppose this was my original point – that they were NOT trying to discriminate, only separate for the sake of these peoples COMFORT. I apologize that my distaste for the tone of the article and way it tried to vilify the people involved provoked me to speaking so dramatically that I failed to articulate this clearly.

        • “So you’re saying there are no ‘secular’ women who’d like the choice not to sit next to some random man?”

          I don’t believe anybody is saying that. They can “prefer” anything. That doesn’t mean they’re entitled to it. If you want the luxury of riding to work without anybody making incidental contact with you, you need to take a cab…or buy a car. You’re not entitled to that on a public bus. What part of this do you not understand?

        • So where these people thinking of the non-hasidic woman’s COMFORT when they yelled at her and demeaned her? This has nothing to do with COMFORT and everything to do with trying to denigrate women so you and your ilk can feel superior to them because a dumb book tells you that is how it is supposed to be. Keep your religion of my public buses please. If you are offended by sitting next to a woman then just walk everywhere.

        • Honey, white women throughout the South did not feel comfortable crushed up against black men on city buses, just like black men make you uncomfortable, too. But young Jewish kids from cities all across the USA got on buses, traveled across the south, demonstrating, getting out the vote and got rid of those laws so black men could squeeze up against all the white women they wanted to.

          You, as a white woman, ought to have made your voice heard back then when white women were fighting for “Separate but Equal” and hundreds of thousands of Jews across the country were fighting to crush it.

          You see, it doesn’t make any difference under US or NY law that you are God’s Chosen People and Negro men make you “uncomfortable”. As much as you don’t want Negro men near you, the segregation you pray for just ain’t gonna happen.

        • Your intent is clear, but doesn’t address the simple fact about OTHER PEOPLE’S CHOICE to sit wherever they want to.

          You jews (specifically hasidic and some orthodox jews) need to understand the world isn’t just about you, your laws, and what you intend. If you can’t understand why anyone would object to complying to a kind of jewish shariya law, then investigate the cause of your own ignorance. It should include a history of this country’s civil rights movements, as well as a history of secular thought and law. Until then, persist in your ignorance and musings about why you see yourselves as the oppressed victims. It’s what judaism as a culture does, anyway, and there’s no denying that. That’s why you call yourselves the chosen people. Yeah, chosen targets. Get a separate, private bus line. If you want to live your self segregated insular life, don’t piss off other people.

        • Are these Hasidic ladies or just ladies in general.

          I too know many who hate sitting next to men, homeless, painters. And you know what they do: They GET UP & MOVE. They dont tell the men, homeless person, or painter to move.

          So the Hasidic ladies should just get up and move not give assigned sections for all bus riders.

          You are speaking about comfort, but for you to be in comfort others must be discomforted.

      • Liorah- Separate but equal was ruled unconstitutional in Brown vs. the Board of Education. If an airport made two lines, yes that would be unconstitutional. Also, what about the differently gendered? Is that not even on your radar?
        Why are you fighting for your right to be treated like a second class citizen? As a woman I really just want to shake other women who accept these lesser roles. Regardless of that though, in a free society, that’s your choice. However, one person’s rights end where another person’s begin.

      • Riding a public bus isn’t the same as being frisked. Once again you’re making completely invalid comparisons. Incidental physical contact on a crowded bus is completely different from using a bathroom or being physically searched. The more you insist on making these invalid comparisons, the more obvious it is that your argument is a hollow one. You’re defending the indefensible. The contradictions between the law of the land and your own religion are YOUR PROBLEM, AND NOBODY ELSE’S. If you can’t ride a public bus without violating your religion, then that means you have to get off the bus, not force the rest of us to follow the rules of your religion. Get it? Is it sinking in yet?

        • DB: yes Yes YES !

          quote : The contradictions between the law of the land and your own religion are YOUR PROBLEM, AND NOBODY ELSE’S. If you can’t ride a public bus without violating your religion, then that means you have to get off the bus, not force the rest of us to follow the rules of your religion.

      • Uh, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the “seperate but equal” doctrine a long time ago, dude. You should familiarize yourself with Jim Crow and the Constitution. It is illegal and discriminatory to send a particular class of passengers to the back of the bus. The difference between the bus and the airport situation you described is that both sexes would be treated equally (as long as both lines were served by the same number of screeners). As it is, you can already ask to be screened by a member of your own gender.

        Please google “Civil Rights Act of 1964″ and New York’s Human Rights Law No. 296, section 2.

    • Jeez, Mr Apikoros, your comment “Riding a bus isn’t the same as using a public toilet, although I suspect some of these “Hasidic” buses smell like one.” is so offensive and unnecessary that I can hardly believe you made it. Is that an anti-semitic comment? Sure seems like one.

      • Honestly, their body odor is very pungent underneath all those clothes which seem to hold in that stench, probably because they only have a few sets of the same exact clothes. I bathe everyday and wash clothes everyday and physically labour, so I know what it is to stink and get it off of me, but these folks just plain stink. It’s the polyester and the fact it’s the same damn suit. Get a bigger wardrobe, and wash that shit. Or adopt a breathable wardrobe. Simple. Oh, yeah and bathe daily, twice even.

  17. Liorah — I hear you on the beauty of Orthodox traditions. But that isn’t relevant to this. The same goes for your comment about the “sub-community they live in.. failing to achieve the right balance.”

    My comments weren’t directed at Orthodox communities in general. This article is about that very kind of “sub-community” you speak of, in which the message is constantly reinforced, sometimes subtly, sometimes explicitly, that women are not only to be separate but they are also inferior.

    If you’re claiming that all Hasidic women in Williamsburg should pick themselves up and become Modern Orthodox, that would be a different discussion. But you’re not saying that. You’re justifying the practice that they engage in, but you’re using language that only applies to more open societies.

  18. Liorah, there aren’t two lines, but in general you do get searched by a guard of the same gender.

    You’re conflating personal and private things (using the toilet, being touched in intimate spaces) with public transportation. Public transportation isn’t intimate.

    Hasids manage to travel on the subway in mixed company all the time without popping a clot. Why not the bus?

  19. Frankly, almost all of you are ignoring an important issue. Whether or not it is discrimination doesn’t matter, because no employee of the bus company (I.e. The driver) made her move. Are there signs on this bus that indicate the separation? Are people informed by an employee when they step aboard? As far as this article states, no they aren’t. So really, I could get on any bus and another person sitting there already could tell me to “move to the back”…is that grounds for me to pursue a discrimination suit? Absolutely not. Had this woman refused and then the driver got involved, yes. I don’t care about the potential for women being oppressed by this rule; I’m a reform Jew myself and am familiar with orthodox law even though I don’t follow it. I have several relatives that do, however, and the females are perfectly content and even happy in their roles. So do I think these women are being forced to the back of the bus? Absolutely not. They are just trying to, along with the men, avoid a potentially awkward situation as Liorah has already mentioned several times. Regardless of why it is being done, though, if it is a public entity it legally can’t be enforced when a non-orthodox Jew steps on board. It’s as simple as that.

    • Actually – the bus company’s website states that the sex segregation – with women at the back of the bus – is an official policy of the company, because the Company’s council of rabbis recommended the policy be implemented. Therefore, this is an official policy that was adopted by the company. That’s the problem.

  20. I just don’t understand how the constitution became an excuse to say “we don’t have to accomodate them because we don’t understand them, and our uninformed interpretation of the situation makes us uncomfortable.”

    • I am going to start a religion that decrees that “upon entering a bus you must slap every other person in the face”. By your logic this should be totally accepted even if you don’t get why it is so.

    • Mr. Abrams, with all due respect, I think you may not understand why people are so upset – it’s not because people are uncomfortable with certain traditions – it’s because the bus is operating a public accomodation (google what that means and why it’s important) that is subject to state and federal anti-discrimination laws (based on the Constitution). If this bus were operated by a private company, on a private route, people would not care. In fact, as Mayor Bloomberg said, do what you want on a private bus, but you can’t hold something open to the public and disobey the law.

      A public accomodation is, by definition, open to the public. So you can’t expect people to accept a public accomodation violating U.S. law in favor of a select few. That’s equivalent to a grocery store refusing to allow black people to shop there. Or a “public” grocery store that won’t admit women who refuse to wear a burqa but everyone else can come in. That’s not how America works.

    • Your perspective is so obviously and painfully uninformed that I find I am amazed that you even have access to a computer. It must have monumentally huge filters.

  21. That’s not really what people are saying. People are objecting to the quite explicit culture of discrimination. (Witness the recent signs in Williamsburg telling women to move to the side when a man approaches.) And the attempts to justify it are often disingenuous.

    The man who ordered the woman to the back of the bus told her, “You don’t question God’s laws.”

    The problem is not that he sees the separation laws as God-given. (Ok, well, at least that’s not the problem we’re discussing.) The problem is that he thinks God gave him the right to rudely order a woman out of her seat and send her to the back. If it’s only about separation, and his deep commitment to his own traditions, then he and the other men could’ve quietly stood up and moved to a section in which they could sit alone. And if the bus was full, they had the option of getting off and waiting for the next one.

    But what irks me is when people who live in more open communities attempt to justify the actions of more insular ones. Chabad, say, might have an authentic Hasidic tradition, but they’re worlds apart from Williamsburg and Borough Park Hasidim on these issues.

  22. Liorah Abrams wrote:
    The bus could as easily have said “men on the left, women on the right” or vice versa and it would have yielded the result the Rabbis were trying to accomplish. I don’t know for sure why they chose “men in front and women in back”…

    Liorah, of course having men on the left and women on the right wouldn’t have satisfied the men, because they then would have had to look at women sitting in front of them! The advantage to them of sitting in the front is that they don’t have to have women in their field of vision at all. (And I have a feeling that you really knew this.)

  23. HR – I definitely understand your point, but what irks me is when people take the (in this case) rude actions of someone as an excuse to write an article and cause potential resulting legal action that 1. further alienates these groups and 2. causes those who genuinely appreciate this countries’ willingness to accomodate their needs to suffer.

    And yes, I’m also incredibly irked that this person chose to act in this way, casting a negative light on all Observant Jews, even if rudeness IS a constitutionally protected right (as demonstrated by some of the comments above).

    • Mr. Abrams, the actions are not simply rude, they are illegal. This is a country of laws, not men. It’s not anti-semetic to desire laws to be enforced. I would protest just as vigorously if a Muslim or Amish company was operating a public accomodation in a similar, discriminatory fashion. This isn’t about casting aspersions on Hasidic Jews, it’s about enforcing constitutional rights.

      In this country, if illegal behavior isn’t rectified, civil or criminal litigation ensues. That’s how it works.

      Check out NYC’s Human Rights Law, Title 8, section 8-602 – “Whenever a person interferes by threats, intimidation or coercion or attempts to interfere by threats, intimidation or coercion with the exercise or enjoyment by any person of rights secured by the constitution or laws of the United States, the constitution or laws of this state, or local law of the city and such interference or attempted interference is motivated in whole or in part by the victim’s actual or perceived race, creed, color, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, age, whether children are, may or would be residing with such victim, marital status, partnership status, disability, or alienage or citizenship status as defined in chapter one of this title, the corporation counsel, at the request of the City Commission on Human Rights or on his or her own initiative, may bring a civil action on behalf of the city for injunctive and other appropriate equitable relief in order to protect the peaceable exercise or enjoyment of the rights secured.”

    • Liorah, I live in Williamsburg, and I’ll tell you what I find rude — the behavior of the Satmars in this neighborhood. I don’t bother to be polite any more because I am worn down from being snubbed and ignored every time I tried to exchange a smile or to extend a cordial greeting with the Satmars who live right next door to me simply because I am not Jewish also.

      It is generally accepted as common decency to be polite and courteous to others, and I don’t believe it is a violation of Halachal law to exchange a friendly greeting or a smile with a neighbor that passes by every day.

      I have gone out of my way to hold the door at the Williamsburg post office, or at shops in Manhattan, to help an ultra-orthodox woman struggle through with a stroller and her numerous children, only to be completely snubbed and ignored. It is more than boorish because it is intentional, disdainful and downright rude.

      Worse, I was hit by a Hasidic bus driver while riding my bike, which was crushed under his bus (miraculously, I recovered from my injuries) but he did not even give me one single glance! He simply went to chat with other Hasids as passersby on the street came to my aid until the paramedics arrived. That is disgusting. In my opinion no God would support such disgraceful treatment of ones fellow human beings, regardless of their faith.

      Hasids, and many fringe groups or cult sects, want to be isolated and alienated. They want to live in an insular community that is separate from society. They do not want to mix with outsiders which is why, in this case, they have the Shomrim, the Beth Din, religious schools etc. etc. Further, they demonstrate their desire to remain insular because they make no effort to be friendly to fellow neighbors or even to help a non-Jew they have themselves have injured.

      As Americans we are all are entitled to practice our faith, but this country was founded on a separation of church and state. It is in the best interest of all that our governance remain that way – and certainly not by keeping women as second class citizens and depriving them of their constitutional rights. I am disgusted with anti-social behavior of many of these people. No benevolent God would approve of that.

      • Sarah, I hope you sued that bus driver for the damage to your bicycle and any medical bills that may have been not fully insured, as well as for damages.

        I have Jewish friends who live in a neighbourhood here where there are many ultra-Orthodox and the latter are no more polite to my non-fundie Jewish friends (one of whome is from a modern Orthodox family that was observant but would never had stood for any sexist, racist or faith-based discrimination).

        Religious fundamentalists, whatever the faith, share a deep contempt for women.

    • I suspect the point of it all was to cause potential resulting legal action…if the bus company refuses to change it’s discriminatory practices.

      That’s one of the many ways that people foster change in the US.

      Really, after reading many of your comments I have to recommend you take a civics class. It’s okay to be informed on how the country you live in operates even if you subscribe to stricter laws.

  24. Ms. Abrams, I’m sure there are many white people in this country who feel very uncomfortable sitting next to a Negro, even today, and not only in the South. Therefore, I propose before we change the law to allow “male” and “female” buses (or segregated seating) as they have in the more benighted parts of Israel. Just as long as it’s “separate but equal.”

  25. Ok, let’s do it this way: clearly this bus line has little interest in accommodating the general public who are offended by it’s standards. They also don’t want to be a “co-op” where they are limited to carrying only members.

    So, maybe city policy needs to be changed (which is not an unreasonable concept) to facilitate public transportation methods of this nature – that want to carry any passengers that want to ride, but don’t want to be considered “public”. Is this totally inconceivable?

    How about the article “City Policy Fails to Accomodate Bus Line That Wants to Provide a Generally Accesible Service While Still Providing ‘Modest’ Seating”? (clearly writing titles is NOT my specialty).

    On an aside: to the many women are reading my comments and thinking ‘that poor brainwashed woman’, I want you to know that I was not born into this lifestyle… I was a staunch Liberal, and chose this, because I wanted a life less saturated with bad choices that look like good ones and cultural standards that sink by the year (and because I believe in G’d). :) I like knowing that my 5 year old children won’t say that all their friends are wearing miniskirts and why can’t they have one. And I like knowing that the men I associate with respect my and my femininity enough to acknowledge the baser component of the nature of many men and women, and appreciate the fences implemented to help preserve the sanctity of intimate relationships.

    There. I’m done. I hope some of you got a glimmer of a new perspective on this article and attitude, and for the rest of you, good luck with all that.

    • You JUST DON’T GET IT, Liorah.

      There is an option available to you. If you reject the option of organizing a co-op because you want to keep accepting fares from the general public, then you have to accept the rules that are in place for that. I DON’T WANT THE RULES CHANGED just to accommodate you. Why should they be? Why is it the city’s problem that you refuse to use the options already available?

      And as far as “the baser component of the nature of many men and women” goes, I don’t know what kind of world you come from where you believe the majority of men and women can’t control their sexual urges. There’s nothing sexual about riding a crowded bus, and the fact that you think there is suggests you have some kind of mental problem. Go see a psychiatrist.

      • DB – don’t be ridiculous. Of course most men and women can control most of their urges most of the time. But clearly public transportation often brings out bad behavior. If you don’t know anyone that’s been groped on a bus or train, then you don’t live in NYC.

        And I still don’t understand what’s so radical about a bus that can pick up passengers that CHOOSE to ride it, without them being forced to be shareholders in it’s company. Someone above said “buy your own bus”. Well, these guys did, but then they were told that their bus can’t service their local community without being part of the “public” system. What stake do you have in NYC policy that you care so much about this kind of transportation designation never coming into existence?

        • Nice try, but this isn’t about “groping.” It’s about incidental contact, which is what you’ve been blathering about all this time. The fact that you sexualize incidental contact is your own problem. The fact that your religion requires you to avoid it is also your own problem. You’re free to avoid situations where it might happen. You’re not free to restrict the rights of others in order to protect yourself from it.

          Enough already. I think that by now you must understand why you’re wrong. This has grown tiresome. I’m checking out.

    • It’s not that you’re Hasidic or that you used to be Liberal. You are ignorant. But maybe what is making others seemingly as crazy as it’s making me, is that you don’t appear to be the typical proudly ignorant. There is a humble curiosity in you that makes your ignorance that much harder to stomach – perhaps for some, that much harder to believe your choices are informed.

      I suspect many of us would love to have a conversation with you about all this after you’ve educated yourself on civics, and no I don’t assume that would automatically make you choose not to live a Hasidic lifestyle.

  26. I feel like riding this bus, just to have someone try to move me to the back of the bus. I agree with others, I would not have moved until the police was called.

  27. The irony of arguing whether some classes of people need to sit in the back of the bus! This is a franchise of a public service. Regardless of what you believe your God tells you, requiring women or anyone else to sit in the back of a public bus is ILLEGAL. If a Catholic group franchised a public bus and made Jews sit in the back you’d probably not be arguing that it’s their business. If a religious group has an issue with seating arrangements, they can find their own private solution.
    BTW, I’m still wondering why the men don’t sit in the back. Wouldn’t men making the effort to move to the back let them demonstrate their concern and respect for women?

  28. Some of the Jews posting on here have more hatred for traditional Judaism than the Nazis had. You must be very happy that Hitler managed to wipe out at least MOST of these people or you would really have a mob on your hands.

    I don’t know how to say it in polite terms, but the French word for “seal” is PHOQUE and the English word for “female sheep” is EWE

    I am not part of the Hasidic community but I do appreciate and am happy that they are still here and going strong.

    • Larry, what a ghastly thing to say. I certainly would like to see ALL women-hating fundamentalist religions “die out”, whether they are Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindo or any other, but that has absolutely nothing in common with endorsing or being cheered by genocide, or in a dislike of religious faith as long as it is not used as a way of crushing us. Remember that there were Christian groups for whom anti-Semtism was practically a tenet, and South African Christians who believed in the inferiority of Black people as an article of faith.

      There were a hell of a lot of unreligious people and followers of Liberal Judaism among the millions of people murdered by the Nazis. They didn’t care whether their victims were religious or not, their reasoning was based on pernicious “racial” nonsense.

  29. I guess it will be separate drinking fountains and schools next, sorta like it was in the South before the Civil Rights movement. “Separate but equal”…but some people (in this case, anyone with a penis) are more equal than others.

  30. What happens on these busses if the women’s section (the “back”) is full in the sense that there are no empty seats left behind the first seated woman or behind the last man? Who has to stand up?

  31. Liorah,
    While I respect your beliefs, and your right to facilities that, well, facilitate them, the fact is that under the bus company’s current agreement with the city, rules that mandate separate seating for men and women on the bus are violating discrimination laws. As a secular woman, if I get on a bus, I’m heading straight for an empty seat, preferably in an empty row. If there are no empty rows, I’m still going to avoid a seat next to an obviously Orthodox or Hasidic man, but only because I’m aware of shomer and Ortho practices regarding touch between men and women.

    But if I sit down in an empty seat, in an empty row, on a bus available to any member of the public, and a man comes over to me and says I have to move to the back of the bus, I’m going to tell him “no.” I’m not Jewish, and his board of Rabbis have no authority over me. If he says “Regular users of this bus choose to segregate themselves to adhere to their religious beliefs,” I’m going to say, “Well, I’ll be extra careful not to touch anyone, but I’m not subject to your religion’s rules, and by law, neither is this bus, so I’m still not moving.”

    I find it very difficult to believe that the Board of Rabbis who makes decisions about the bus line are ignorant of the significance of “back of the bus” rules. While segregating left to right sides would still be illegal, it would not be so fraught with historical comparison.

    Also, I’m surprised nobody’s brought up that this rule is appalling from a disability standpoint. What about handicapped seats? Are women with mobility difficulties also expected to move to the back of the bus, where on city-provided transportation they’d be given priority for accessible seating?

    What if the bus is crowded? What if the front row of the bus is empty, and every other seat on the bus is taken? Should I stand when there are perfectly free seats available? No offense, but F that noise. Doesn’t matter how hard someone yells at me for it, as long as I’m not touching anyone, I’m going to sit down, and roll my eyes at anyone who has a problem. They can just keep yelling until I get off at my intended time.

    I’d also like to point out there’s a huge difference between “there is a general practice of segregation on this bus, which riders of both sexes prefer because this bus is primarily ridden by Hasidic and Orthodox Jews” and “we will make you sit in a specific section, regardless of your wishes or religious beliefs, and we will enforce this.” If people choose to segregate themselves because it makes them more comfortable, that’s choice. But just because many women choose to sit at the back of the bus doesn’t mean I have to, when the city’s laws clearly state I am under no compulsion to do so. Nobody has the right to shove their personal/religious choices on me, and the bus company has no legal authority to enforce segregation by sex. I can respect your choices without making the same ones, and I can make different choices without interfering with yours.

    If you want a bus with a hard rule separating men and women, the bus line either needs to go fully private or renegotiate with the city. Until then, trying to enforce segregation is unlawful, and any citizen has the right to file a complaint. That’s the law. You can dislike the law, you can choose to break the law, but you still have to accept the consequences if you choose to break it. (And yes, this a principle I would like to apply to all corporations and citizens.)

  32. I think not allowing people to practice their religion is equally discriminatory. If they will not accommodate the Hasidic Jewish passengers so they may practice their religion and ride the bus (not have to compromise their religion to ride the bus), when there is a way to, it would be just as discriminatory.

    (I’m not Jewish, but I believe in equal rights. Accommodating members of a religion is the same as accommodating people with disabilities. YES, it requires accommodation, and YES it is fair to ask other people to accommodate these people so they have equal rights.)

    Maybe they should make it the left side and right side of the bus, rather than front and back, so the women and men have equal seats. Making women sit in the back of the bus gives them inferior seats, which is more grounds for saying it’s discrimination. They could also switch it bus to bus, and keep it front and back.

    • “Accommodation” goes both ways

      and maybe you should understand the meaning of the word before trying to implement it

      Accommodation
      a process of mutual adaptation between persons or groups, usually achieved by eliminating or reducing hostility, as by compromise or arbitration.

      The men on the bus didn’t accommodate the woman they were hostile. How was that woman accommodated? She was not respected but you expect her to “accommodate”, or respect, others.

    • You may believe in equal rights, but do you understand them?

      How many religious persons in the above article have been discriminated against? (Hint – none.) Nobody forced the Hasidic women to sit with the men.

  33. @Annie
    the whole point is that this practice is discriminatory. you can’t say let them practice by discriminating against others… that makes no sense. a public bus is no place to practice religion. go to your church, temple, whatever. it is illegal, plain and simple.

  34. They do have separate lines for pat-downs a lot of places. Football games, for one. And one of the commentors was right: if the driver doesn’t say anything, and it’s only the other passengers who tell a woman to move to the back, it’s not illegal.

  35. My religion is I hate Negroes. If we have to accommodate Haredim because we want to be “sensitive” to them, you all have to be sensitive to my beliefs, too. All Negroes, step to the rear. With the women.

    No, it’s not like being disabled. One doesn’t choose to become disabled.

  36. Suddenly the NYC which happily embraces unwashed hippie pigs taking up permanent unsanitary residence in its parks, develops a severe case of the vapours over some Hassidic Jews and decides that the glories of “Diversity” (cue harp music) are not all that great after all.

    Epic 2011

  37. I used to live in NY and I remember how people are able to articulate arguments well.

    @Kenny and Mr. Apikoros, good points.

    Maybe it’s, as long as they’re in the U.S., where discrimination is illegal, they shouldn’t be allowed to imposed sex segregation, at least make people who aren’t Hasidic Jews follow it. It’s a public bus, so it shouldn’t be allowed. Makes sense.

    I was thinking it’s probably a bus line which caters to a significant number of Hasidic Jews. I guess if it is a public bus, and they’re forcing other people to follow it, too, it’s an issue. Maybe they should get a private bus, or get an extra route which is open to the public but which specifically is there to accommodate people who are Hasidic Jewish so they have A bus to ride where they’re able to follow their religious practice. I just think there should be a solution, or people should try to find a solution, which respects both issues, and currently there isn’t.

    Also, I understand your point about “choosing” religion, as opposed to disability, but I disagree with it. It isn’t as simple as people “choosing” their religions, because, in a way, people do not “choose” their religions. To people who are religious, their religion isn’t a “choice”; it’s the truth and God’s choice. I’m not religious in this way, but I believe in respecting people’s beliefs, and the whole point of religious freedom is respecting people’s beliefs and allowing them to practice according to these beliefs. It violates people’s religious freedom/rights to make them violate their beliefs.

    Obviously it gets complicated if some people’s beliefs violate other people’s rights. But if there’s a way to respect both, both should be respected.

    If there’s a way for the Hasidic Jews who choose this practice to practice it and be able to ride the bus, without violating other people’s rights, people should try to find this solution.

  38. “The Transportation Department said that the B110 had not been granted any exceptions to anti-discrimination laws.”

    I think a reasonable solution would be, if there are a significant number of Hasidic Jews riding this bus line, to grant this bus line an exception. They could also create a new bus line which has an exception.

    The law ALLOWS for exceptions, likely for things just like this.

    It isn’t fair for the Hasidic Jews to have to have a private bus line, just so they are able to transport! It would likely cost more, require work, etc.

    I’m not Jewish, but I support respecting people’s religions.

    I’m also a huge supporter of human rights, and especially women’s rights. I disagree with oppressing women anywhere in the world. I think religious and cultural ideas often are used to justify oppressing women, and other people.

    But at the same time, if women AND men in the Hasidic Jewish community support sex segregation, which in and of itself isn’t necessarily oppressive, and it isn’t hurting people, and there is a way to allow them to practice their beliefs, without discriminating against people outside the community, why wouldn’t it be ok?

    I think it’s a complicated issue, and I’m not saying there’s always a simple answer. I just think there probably is a reasonable solution in this case, and people should try to find it.

    • There is nothing complicated about it whatsoever, either they behave in a fashion that is in step with the laws of the land, or else they are demanding special treatment because they believe they are superior human beings to you and your silly little goy laws.

    • where do your exceptions end?

      Black only buses?
      White only buses?
      Buses only for women, only for men?
      Women are only allowed on the B line buses, so its -40 out and a woman can’t get on the bus because its a men only bus? so this woman ends up with frost bite because YOU want to be accommodating.

      This might come as news to you but we are ALL EQUAL

    • Hasidic Jews don’t have to have a private bus line. HJ women can get on the public bus and they can choose the back of the bus. It’s all perfectly fair and non-discriminatory. What they cannot do, on a public bus, is force non HJ women to ride in the back.

      It’s not at all complicated.

  39. It seems my response to Kenny and Mr. Apikoros was lost

    I used to live in NY and I remember how people were good at articulating arguments

    @Kenny I agree. I see your point. If it’s a public bus, and they’re making other people follow the practice, it’s an issue. I said, maybe they should get a private bus, or have the city make an extra bus line which serves the Hasidic Jewish community and allow them to practice this sex segregation.

    In my next second comment, I said I actually think making them get a private bus is unfair. I think there should be some attempt to accommodate them, because it’s a significant number of people, and it isn’t fair if they just aren’t able to ride the bus because of their religion, especially if it IS possible to accommodate them in a reasonable way.

    @Mr. Apikoros

    I see your point about people “choosing” their religion, as opposed to disability, but I disagree. To people who are religious, their religion isn’t their “choice.” It’s God’s choice. I’m not religious in this way, but I believe in respecting people’s religious beliefs. The whole POINT of religious rights/freedom is respecting people’s religious beliefs and practices. It isn’t fair to expect people to violate their religious beliefs just to ride a bus, and it may even be a violation of religious freedom (I’m not familiar with the law in this regard).

    Would it be fair if a Jewish child weren’t allowed to take Jewish holidays off from school? I bet there would be some First Amendment lawsuits if this happened. (Maybe there have been.)

    It’s more complicated if the religion affect OTHER people’s rights, but again, I think people should try to find a solution which respects everybody’s rights in different ways.

  40. Also relevant is just how many people who aren’t Hasidic Jewish ride this bus? If it’s 99 percent Hasidic Jews who ride the bus, the issue should be treated with respect, at least, law or not. I care less about the law than justice, as the two aren’t always the same. In this case, if the law allows for exceptions, I think a case where it would be just to create this exception is perfect for implementing this part of the law.

    (People may disagree if it’s just to create an exception for Hasidic Jews in this case.)

    If it’s 50 percent Hasidic Jews and 50 percent other people, it’s more of an issue to be making the people who aren’t Hasidic Jews practice sex segregation.

    If it’s 20 percent Hasidic Jews and 80 percent other people, there’s more argument to, practically, expect the Hasidic Jews to adapt to local law. (It doesn’t change the principle)

    • No, the number of people is not relevant. Civil rights belong to each and every individual residing in this country – legally and illegally.

      That’s really the whole point of civil rights, see? Protecting individuals from the tyranny of the majority.

  41. Also.

    How the Hasidic women think about the practice is important.

    This gets into whether any religion-justified gender laws are ok. I think they’re ok, generally, only if both genders support them. If it’s just the men who support them, and the women are not in support of them, and the laws oppress women, I would disagree with the laws.

    I wouldn’t be able to how women and men in the Hasidic community view this issue. We would need more information than is in this article

    • Annie, I think you’re well-intentioned, but it doesn’t matter if the women most affected by the discrimination are “ok” with it. In America, we are a country of laws, not a country of men or women. The law is the law. And in this case, the religious law is being enforced on a public accomodation. That’s not ok. A non-Hasidim could attempt to board the bus and be intimidated by others and forced to move to the back (which is what they did to blacks during Jim Crow – the driver didn’t usually need to make the black person go to the back).

      The bottom line is the bus is a public accomodation. It cannot operate like this or franchise companies operating buses in certain majority neighborhoods could just as easily require certain minorities to always sit in the back because it offended them to sit next to a black/brown person.

  42. I’m Jewish and I think the Chassids are an embarassment to the faith. The men’s whole life revolves around getting erections, and the women’s whole like revolves around preventing that. Men and women stay seperate because the men may get an erection from being in their presence. When a woman menstrates, a man cannot sleep in the same bed, look at her, or take anything from her hand because he might get an erection during this time. Women are forbidden to sing in public because men might get an erection. And women are not allowed to sit with men in the synagogue because the men will be concentrating on their erections an not on their prayers. Women in Chassidim are not allowed to drive because they might leave the faith due to all the restricions. They also must shave their heads and don wigs called sheitels so other men will not look at them and therefore get an erection. If women in this faith would just simply say “enough” and not comply, that would be the end of Chassidim. With that said, the woman rider should never have changed her seat. The bus company would have done nothing, and the men would have been forced to stand or get off. Problem solved.

  43. NYC and Mayor Bloomberg will “take action” on a bus company that discriminates but not NYC’s Hatzolah Ambulance which also discriminates against Women by refusing to allow them to join their EMS service simply because they are Women. Just so you are aware Hatzolah EMS takes public tax money and still they discriminate.

    http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/brooklyn/jewish_siren_ladies_Ax71jq2CgYYdWPcFmCzwWN

    http://www.vosizneias.com/59939/2010/07/12/brooklyn-ny-flatbush-hatzalah-receives-nearly-half-a-million-grant-from-assemblywoman/

  44. I can’t believe they are letting these bullies get away with this. Why can’t religious people understand that their silly rules do not apply to everyone?

    • Agreed, 0007. They want it both ways: taking public money but not following the law of the land, and having secular people obey their stupid laws like we’re one of their own people.

      Well, take the money or don’t. Keep them separated behind a wall, if that’s what they want.

  45. This is all about contact. They do not want any male/female contact. I don’t actually find this a problem where they sit. They just don’t want them sitting together.

  46. Western democratic values like equality, liberty and tolerance are what permit religious communities like the Hasidim to thrive without persecution in this part of the world, so I find it hypocritical that they then feel empowered to disregard those values in their own communities.

  47. A complicated topic. I can hear both sides of this arguement and the suggestions seem understandable. But there is an emotional quality in some of the responses, a very angry reaction, that suggests more than just a point of disagreement. When i see that, it’s hard to assume that those writing in that voice are neutral on this issue, be it on religion or on which religion is involved – in this case, Judaism. Debate is appropriate, but some responders methinks dost protest too much.

  48. As a white Southerner, who like many white Southerns went far beyond Miss Daisy, and put our asses literally on the line, I must say this does seem segregation of if not the worst sort, a bad kind. One half of a crossroads where we put our behinds in a sit in is now Martin Luther King Blvd. Do I take offense when a Hassidic man won’t shake my hand because I’m “unclean” or “impure”? I try not to, but I do. There’s something wrong with a religion in which a man gets up every morning and thanks G-d he’s not a woman. How does that make women feel? Even Hassidic women? A film called “A Price Beyond Rubies” is about a Hassidic woman who leaves the fold and moves in with a jazz musician in Harlem. Sex discrimination bothers me in Israel, where the settlers grab more and more land for their ever expanding families, making peace less and less possible. And it bothers me here. Hassidic women have, (according to the NYT), an epidemic of anorexia. Does a woman help? No, a rabbi advises them. Those women take care of their numberless children and work, to add to the welfare, while men study. They live in nice houses in Riverdale, Brooklyn, and other parts of the city, including the Upper West Side. Why not try a switcheroo? Hassidic women sit in the front of the bus on their way to study, while men work and take care of the kids, pushing a stroller to the back of that moving bus, while holding another child’s hand and a baby in a snuggie, so they see what it’s like. A Jewish shrink I know says he thinks anorexia is an attempt on the part of Hassidic women to make themselves less sexually attractive. Doesn’t it also make them less fertile eventually? My suggestion to Hassidic women who don’t want more children: Don’t go to the mikvah. Seems to me that access to birth control should be a human right, especially a woman’s but also a man’s right. NB, Pope, some evangelicals and muslims. I’m neither anti semitic nor a self loathing jew, but expect to be called both.

  49. If you allow Hasidic laws to override city/county/state/federal law, you must allow Sharia law to override as well. So, let the ranting against Muslims begin. The bottom line is that you live in the US. For those of you arguing for allowing this bus segregation, move to a country that allows it. As long as you live in the US, you follow our laws. And there has been a hell of a lot of violence, in-you-face bigotry and courageous strength exerted over the last 100 years to get us this far. A bunch of Hasidic Jews are NOT going to send us backwards, not even on a bus.

  50. The laws that keep these men from stashing women in the back of a bus are the same laws that keep them from stoning a woman to death, should she ever be tempted to perpetrate adultry. Which is pretty much the punishment the holy scriptures of all Abrahamic religions prescribe.

    They’re also the laws which keep me from declaring the existence of an invisible superbeing which commands everyone I meet in the bus to hand me and my followers over 10% of what they carry in their purse.

    And lastly, trying to come up with rational explanations for the sheer endless amounts of rules and taboos found in bronze-age religious writings is a hopeless venture.

  51. Annie: This is done in Israel, where Egged (the privately owned bus company which is franchised by the government) has “kosher” lines where “voluntary” segregation is practiced. Most Israelis, about 85%, are secular, or at least not Haredi, and despise the practice.

    It’s a terrible idea in Israel, and an even worse one in the USA, where no religion is recognized as an official one. If this were allowed, maybe the government should prohibit the eating of meat during Lent, as practicing Catholics don’t (or at least pay lip service to giving up something for Lent).

    If the Haredim don’t like women sitting next to them on the bus, they can walk. Or drive. Or jump to their destination on a pogo stick. Or turn into Spiderman. The possibilities are endless.

  52. So Liorah, how would you feel, if somebody tells you to go to the front of the bus and mix with the men?
    It doesn’t matter back-front, left-right, mix-not mix. Nobody can tell a person what to do – it feels bad. They could ASK, but they should not expect everybody to follow their rules.

  53. Bus Bias and Basketball Bandits

    Move to the back of the bus! Gimme you wallet!

    The first of those directives is most often associated with the segregated South when African-Americans were ordered to make room for whites–before Rosa Parks said, “No!” The second is often the command of a mugger who wants your hard-earned cash–now!

    In Brooklyn, New York, the first is an acceptable order when given to women by Hasidic Jews. To Bryant Gumbel, the second is also acceptable as a labor demand by the National Basketball Players Association.

    The Hasidim represent a sect of Orthodox Judaism in which Jewish males immerse themselves daily in a mikvah for spiritual cleansing, wear distinctive clothing, rigidly adhere to a tradition of gender separation–and reserve front seats for Hasidic men, even on Brooklyn buses.

    On the morning of October 12th, Melissa Franchy boarded the B110 bus, took a seat near the front, and everything was fine–until the bus began to fill up with Hasidic men. At that point, male passengers insisted she relocate to the rear. Inquiring why, she was scolded, “When God makes a rule, you don’t ask, Why make the rule?”

    Apparently unbeknownst to Franchy, the bus is privately-owned though operating a public service under a New York City franchise and is still subject to anti-discrimination laws. Maybe. An un-resolved question remains as to whether an exception can be made to allow sex discrimination on this quasi-public enterprise since, as NYMag.com explains, “It’s a Jewish bus.”

    Should this public service be exempted from anti-bias laws? I don’t know. You make the call. I’m just pretty certain God didn’t “make the rule.”

    Former Today show host and current HBO sportscaster Bryant Gumbel tends to make his own rules.

    Forced off Today in 1989 after sniping at fellow staffers Willard Scott and Gene Shalit, Gumbel landed a job at CBS. In 2000, he was caught on camera saying, “What a f*cking idiot” following a hostile interview with Robert Knight. Knight has headed up the Family Research Council, the Media Research Center, and other conservative religious organizations but Gumbel didn’t approve his defense of the Boy Scouts’ exclusion of homosexual troop leaders.

    Nevertheless, the true f*cking idiot Gumbel landed his HBO gig where he recently proved how f*cking idiotic he is. . .
    (Read more at http://www.genelalor.com/blog1/?p=5762.)

  54. The men PRESSURED the woman to move, but really did not force her to. She caved to the pressure, which was ultimately her choice. But if she had chosen to sit there anyway, nobody was going to lay a finger on her or stop the bus. Her move was voluntary, a choice to provide her with greater peace. If other women ride the bus and refuse to move, which will undoubtedly happen now that there is media attention, the men will get off instead. When this all dies down, they will just go back to doing what they do out of their religious traditions. The elements of the story that interest us – the clear similarities to racial discrimination of the past, and the involvement of Jews – have turned the story and the comments into an emotional mess that exposes many underlying resentments and personal contempts. But it really all misses the point and just lets people vent their hatred, because women who ride the bus are not forced to move. That’s a loaded term used by the media to sell their story, and the amount of comments proves it was a job well done.

    • You have no clue what they would have done if she hadn’t moved.

      Intent of the bus company is very clearly stated on their website – women to the back of the bus.

      The media sells its story and the public becomes informed, and the amount of comments proves it was a job well done.

  55. Without taking sides on this side of the pond we are fortunate that this situation just does not arise on London Transport.

  56. Liorah –
    I’m an ‘orthodox’ Muslim woman. If I’d got onto that bus and seen that the men were at the front and the women at the back, I would’ve happily gone and sat at the back. On the rare occasions that I use public transport, I usually prefer to sit next to women/children. This is a personal lifestyle choice as I wear hijab and try to reduce any unnecessary contact with men I’m not related to (and no I’m not brainwashed etc. – I’m more observant than my parents, born and brought up in England, work as a docor so I’ve seen it all!); I do understand where you’re coming from.

    But this is a CHOICE – I decide to act like this because I want to.
    Nobody has the right (in this country anyway) to *make* me move to the back/front/side of the bus. If there is an unwritten law within orthodox communities to segregate sexes, that is fine. But if it’s a public service, you have to accept that you cannot impose your views on other people. This doesn’t mean you are being targetted as a community (actually I get the feeling if this was a ‘muslim’ bus, all hell would break loose). Of course religious/ethnic minorities should be acommodated for, but the law itself is secular and cannot discriminate against people; it will be impossible to please people of all religions so we have to draw a line somwehere. This is the key point under question which most of the posters seem to be mentioning.

    It’s not whehther or not you choose to sit at the front or back (I’d prefer to sit with the women myself), but that *nobody* can force someone to sit at the back unless it’s your own private bus. Also what if it were an elderly or disabled woman who’d find it difficult to go to the back? Clearly this is not really practical anyway (although I admit that’s not the point here)

  57. All city buses discriminate against able-bodied people. They make them move to the back so disabled people can sit in the front. It’s discrimination. I’m not saying it’s wrong. But it is discriminatory.

  58. I not only feel like riding this bus and sitting in the front, I feel like getting a bunch of women together, linking arms so that we take up the whole damn sidewalk, and walking around in the neighborhood with those signs at the same time there are a lot of men out and about. And wearing miniskirts and low-cut shirts.

    Liorah, you may not be brainwashed, but you’re pretty backwards. And, Larry, stop playing the “self-hating Jew” card. Ultras = Taliban = fundie xtians.

    Annie: NO, accommodating members of a religion is NOT the same as accommodating people with disabilities. You CHOOSE to believe in stupid backwards crap and you justify it as “gawd’s choice.” You do NOT choose to be disabled. And I don’t care if it’s 99% ultra riders; the majority doesn’t get to oppress the minority.

  59. These members of oppressive religions which breed like flies and turn out socially awkward adults are disgraceful. Women succumb to oppresive behaviour at the hands of narrow minded males who are led to FALSELY believe they are mentally superior.

    It was a socially awkward behaviour to rudely impose his reiigious beliefs on a non Hassid.

    Keep your religious beliefs and practices to yourself and at home. If you want to believe all that fairytale nonsense, that’s your business but don’t pester others with your misguided crap.

  60. This is easy:

    Substitute black women for Jewish women and white male for Hasidic man.

    Should a bus company that serves “white neighborhoods” be allowed to segregate the black women to the back of the bus so that white men can sit in front? Of course not. Same goes for this bus that serves Orthodox Jews. The same anti-discrimination laws that prohibit discrimination on the B110 also **protect** Orthodox Jews from discrimination in other circumstances. It cuts both ways–tough, deal with it. It is where freedom of religion comes from.

  61. Actually, if you go to the article’s link about the board of consulting rabbis, the current story that comes up has a really interesting comment –

    “They are so frightened of someone complaining to the rabbonim, they routinely leave passnergers standing on the street because the woman’s section is full and they are afraid of one of the ehrleche yidden screaming about a woman taking an empty seat in the men’s setion. Once they stop, they cannot say we will take the men passengers only and leave the women at the bus stop for the next bus. Thus, the solution these bus drivers have adopted is not to stop for anyone. They should be fired and replaced with drivers with a minimum of chachma and common sense. Its no big deal if a woman has to stand/sit in the women’s sectio for a few stops if its cold/raining outside rather than leaving them at the bus stop because some jerk might complain.”

  62. If women had any balls, they’d tell these weirdos to take a hike, go make love to their hand, and in one generation we’d be rid of these creeps. And this is a Jew talking.

  63. I’d have said “okay, but I’m on my period and I sat in at least ten different seats before settling on this one” (a man cannot sit where an “unclean” woman has sat- ie, a woman on her period) then watch people try to figure out which seats were tainted.

  64. The hatred in the comments is appalling. I can see that hatred for the Jews is just beneath hatred for the Muslims. What happened to America? Minorities are only allowed to live here until they emphasize how different they are, and then we’ll insult 1) their religion 2) their culture 3) their personal hygiene 4) their social norms 5) their intelligence.

    And don’t even get me started on the cognitive dissonance whereby women in the comments claim that other women are prone to succumbing to anti-misogynistic societal practices because, apparently, women are weak and fall into these traps a lot. HELLO???? Seriously?

    If someone who rode this bus has a legitimate complaint, then they can file a complaint and/or a lawsuit. Until that happens, I don’t care. This is a mountain out of a mole hill.

    • Whenever someone condemns all commenters for the rantings of a few trolls, well lets just say the insincerity is obvious.

      Nice strawman though, about how minorities aren’t allowed to do anything the least bit cultural in the US.

      Squirrel!

  65. I’m going to have to go ahead and say that the title to this article is a bit misleading. It is a private bus servicing a private community (albeit providing them a public service). They are first and foremost servicing a specific community, and at the same time opening itself up to the public. In this case, if the rest of the public chooses to utilize their services they are subject to that communities codes of conduct and traditions. It really is that simple. It isn’t like the public cannot choose to use another bus. Now if this were an actual city run public bus, my take would be a lot different.

    • Well it is really simple, but you have it completely wrong. The private bus company is running a public bus service and is subject to the anti discrimination laws that the rest of the public buses are subject to. Yep, simple as can be.

  66. This is one of those tricky legislative issues where the freedom of a religion group to follow their doctrines however discriminatory vs the general public’s right to not be discriminated against butt heads. Even if this was a completely private service is there a point in which religious rights to follow their beliefs uninterrupted trump Constitutional rights to equal non-discriminatory treatment? There are southern churches that believe races should not inner mingle would we be fine if these churches had a private bus that was WHITES ONLY for their parishioners?

  67. Some of the anti-Jewish comments here are from hypocrites who would never say the same things about other minority groups. Further it is interesting that Columbia University undertook this “investigation” the same university that welcomes Ahmadinejad the worlds leading Jew hater. Coincidence?

    • Perhaps the Jews should establish an identity that’s NOT playing the world’s victim. It’s a little tired considering you have the most economically viable nation in the Middle East, heaps of foreign aid, and powerful representation in all sectors of society, including government, law, entertainment, media and business.

  68. Leon, Jews are not alone on this planet when it comes to bigotry, despite what your religion claims. Just because a university welcomes Ahamdinejad doesn’t mean they hate all Jews worldwide. Let’s not be absurd in proving a confirmation bias.

  69. I for one did not claim women were weak, I said they were oppressed. They are trapped and have nowhere to turn to. Just because a culture is different doesn’t make it ‘good’. I’m appalled at hearing how backward cultures practice female circumcisions which are barbaric and often life threatening or kill female unborn babies because they don’t want to be bothered with girls who don’t carry the family name and don’t contribute financially. I’m appalled at religions being used as an excuse for wars. I’m tired of hearing Christian fundamentalists and other religious fundamentalists saying anyone who doesn’t believe like them is going to Hell. Hell IS religious fundamentalists!

    When people make another country their home, they are welcome. But they must learn to live with others and that means fitting in. Let them practice their beliefs freely as long as they are in keeping with the laws of this country, otherwise they can go back to where they came from. In this country, it is not legal to circumcise females, dictate adult women’s attire, dictate whether adult females can leave the house and with whom. Our country is about freedom, not nuturing oppressive cultures.

  70. Let’s look at this, I mean REALLY look at this.
    There is more than one sensitive situation at play here. There is gender discrimination, religious freedom, freedom of speech, so on. We, as those who are not part of the chassidic community, can say that we feel the practice of separating the sexes is ‘archaic’ and unsavory. We can say that the roles should be reversed. This is how we feel, how we were raised, what we were exposed to. Great. Now, we take a look at life from the chassidic point of view. Yes, of course there will be those that do not agree with their standard of living, but then there are also those that will stand behind it, fully. Its how they were raised, what they have been exposed to, etc. Our only standing point in this entire affair is that this practice is being brought onto a PUBLIC bus that has put itself under the jurisdiction of the DoT. All else? We can’t touch it. They can easily get this company to give them private service. Hell, they can even get the company to make it that there is one bus, private of course, for guys and one bus for gals. There. No need to worry over the temptation and all of the other concerns. Total separation. No, they cannot expect that the general public will be following under these rules of engagement. Ignorance and a sense of entitlement, in MY view, would cause such bold thoughts. This bus is a public service. Women, when not dealing in the rules of the chassidic community, will sit where they please. Those who do not like it have the right to exit the bus and wait for another. Keep in mind that they run the chance of possibly having to wait for yet ANOTHER bus as there are a great deal of people about that just do not follow these religious concepts. Sticky, sensitive topic. Must be dealt with carefully so that there are no claims of NY totally discriminating against the practice of a religion.

  71. i would like to know where in the torah does it say women shall ride in the back of a bus, or for that matter why this is tolerated in the USA. i am jewish and this is religious extremeism and it is dangerous. it really ticks me off when people quote GOD to get their way. i dont think GOD ever road the number 110 to go to the store.
    melanie silver

  72. “Some of the anti-Jewish comments here are from hypocrites who would never say the same things about other minority groups.”

    What a laugh. Could you imagine what would happen if, say, Mormons were caught doing this in Salt Lake City with the complicity of the local government? The media and government would go ballistic. These people have been extended a privilege that very few other groups would receive. I’ve often wondered about the housing situation in these Orthodox/Hasidic areas as well.

  73. Thanks so much to everyone for your insights and discussions on our story – I have been following them closely.

    This afternoon, we heard that the B110 will be ending its policy of sex-segregation,according to Assemblymember Dov Hikind. You can read our follow-up story here:
    http://www.thenewyorkworld.com/2011/10/25/sex-segregation-policy-on-brooklyn-bus-line-to-end-hikind-says/

    Thanks so much for your interest and I hope the conversation continues!

  74. What good news. This is a step in the right direction towards the intolerance of oppression. This is not just about seating on a bus, it’s about reaching out to those trapped in an oppressive society who have no way out.

  75. Honestly, who cares! I mean people are always looking for small things to make a big deal about. Does this really affect you? If over 95% of the people who ride this bus are ultra orthodox (which is the case here), the other 5% should either get on a different bus or don’t complain. Their not trying to discriminate against genders. This is in the bible and they hold to it. Just respect it, and the women who are sitting in the back would NOT want to sit in the front with the men because that’s not the way of their lifestyle. Most buses in Israel operate the same way. There is so much more important things going on in the world today then to find something so little that’s not even illegal just to pick on the Jews. Seriously, life goes on.

  76. You cared enough to comment, Ariel.

    Please explain to me how “This is in the Bible” is evidence that something is not a discriminatory practice.

  77. The point is, this is an example of extremists trying to oppress women. Hassidic Jews are extremists and don’t represent the general Jewish population.
    There is nothing in the Bible about women sitting on the back of buses.
    And this does affect me. We are facing this in our own country with Evangelistic Christians in our government. If they had it their way, their religion would oppress us very much. This is not about one New York bus, it represents something much bigger.
    Also, I DON’T respect religions who oppress women. And if you think all women who comply with these rules are happy about it, you are under informed.

  78. This is ridiculous. What does it take for New Yorkers to figure out that this is nothing but Jewish religious arrogance, intimidation and gross ignorance, ignoring the rules that everyone follows and falsely believing they are an exception, by whose law? An ancient tale about being chosen fits right in line with Barney’s “Propaganda” the regiment of the minds. When are they going to wake up and realize they are still mentally, emotionally and spiritually in the wilderness? However, to criticize bad behavior, irrational thinking and religious fanaticism is to be branded, anti-semetic.
    Enough is enough, the Law is the Law, no exception, but with an orthodox speakers catering to the whims of his religion, they will find a loophole. You might as well accept the fact that New York has been increasing displacing the constitution for Talmud rule, and now that problem is identified, it’s time to do something about it. This is New York’s Jim Crow system that will require a revolution of consciousness to move these people, Freud neither Jung could do it, so “Let the dead, bury the dead!” In the “Crystallizing Public Opinion, “Edward Bernays, 1965 sums up this absurd collective thinking:
    …average citizen is the world’s most efficient censor. His own mind is the greatest barrier between him and the facts. His own ‘logic proof compartments,’ his own absolutism are the obstacles which prevent him from seeing in terms of experience and thought rather than in terms of group reaction.”
    The people of New York ought not to settle for discrimination period. Good article!