Responds to letter
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Responds to letter

Sandra Steuer writes (Letters, March 19) that it “is terrible”… and “an insult that there still is a wall between men and women in a synagogue.” Guess what? If one polled all the Orthodox women sitting in the ezrat nashim in any Orthodox shul, one would find that very few of them feel insulted or degraded by sitting there. They accept their roles in Judaism lovingly and willingly. They don’t believe that they are “second-class” citizens. Why does she? So who is forcing her to daven in a shul with a mechitza? There exist in Israel, as well as locally, many synagogues in which a woman can sit where she wants; in fact, she can be the president of the congregation, or the cantor, or even the rabbi. But, in an Orthodox shul, she simply can’t. If you don’t like it, don’t daven there.

And who is forcing Ms. Cohen to ride on a “mehadrin” segregated bus? Egged instituted those lines in response to customers who wanted them. They run very specific routes, and you can get to all the same places on “regular” buses from the Central Jerusalem bus station. You don’t want to ride separately? Don’t get on a “mehadrin” bus.

Ms. Cohen is correct that people who order glatt kosher meals are served first on El Al. But on any airline, “special meals” are always served first – be it kosher, vegetarian, gluten-free, or whatever. Airlines just don’t want these few special meals getting mixed up with the rest. It has nothing to do with how many hungry women and children are on board, nor is it meant to favor haredi men.

Ms. Cohen states that “having to go to a mikvah can be humiliating for a secular woman.” Question: these secular woman who are “humiliated” by going to a mikvah -are they the same ones running around largely naked on the public beaches? So it’s fine for these people to display their bodies on billboards in Tel Aviv, but in the relative privacy of a mikvah with a female attendant, it’s humiliating?

Ms. Cohen is distressed by certain behavior exhibited by “haredim.” I wish to stress the following: Any “haredi” who throws rocks at immodestly dressed women or who curses at women wearing tefillin or reading Torah at the Kotel is wrong. Such behavior is uncalled for and represents a chillul HaShem (desecration of God’s name) of the highest order. But such people represent a minority of the Orthodox population and just get media attention because of the way they behave. It is similar to how, at the Israel Day Parade, the thousands of marchers get 10 seconds of the media’s attention, while the handful of protesting chasidim (who themselves are a minority of one sect) get all the stories and photographs.

If Ms. Cohen wants to be a champion for secular Jewish women’s rights, let her. But bashing all of Orthodox Jewry simply because she disagrees with, or perhaps does not understand, the way it treats gender separation is not the way to do it.

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