Civility above all else

Civility above all else

Last week, on a public bus in Jerusalem, a charedi man berated a secular woman who took a seat near the front. It did not matter to the man that women may sit wherever they want on a public bus. He was rude, crude, and totally out of line. He also embarrassed a fellow human being, itself a grave violation of Jewish law.

More rude, crude, and out of line was the young man who stepped to the woman’s defense. He physically attacked the charedi man, beating him, before getting off the bus and running away.

Neither man’s behavior is acceptable, not before the High Holy Days or ever. That such incidents occur at all is a sad commentary on the seemingly unbridgeable divisions in Jewish life in the 21st century.

Within two weeks, Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky will formally present his plan to allow Western Wall access to all wishing to pray according to the dictates of their ideology. We await the plan’s unveiling to comment. The bus incident, however, reminds us that there are broader issues that must be addressed. Civility despite difference tops that list.