A group of ultra-orthodox women has recently launched a campaign supporting gender separation on public buses, in response to claims that segregation was being forced on haredi women by rabbis.
The lobby's founder, Rebetzen Yocheved Grossman of Mea Shearim, explained to Ynet that the initiative enjoyed the support of the wives of senior rabbis from all the haredi circles.
"The other side makes it sound like we haven't been asked about it… women are the daughters of kings! We have a say as well!" she stated.
Grossman stressed that "we are not feminists who want to make a fuss, but when people speak on our behalf this is just too much…. I represent tens of thousands of women who ride the bus everyday and want separate lines. To say that haredi women should be felt sorry for is to distort the truth."
According to Grossman, the lobby included dozens of women from Israel and the world, not all of them ultra-Orthodox.
"Why is it that in Monsey, US a Jewish woman can rise the bus separately and non-Jews respect her wishes as a customer? Why are women in London allowed to get on the bus through the back door, not out of religious considerations but simply because it's jam packed? Why do women agree to wear a white robe in the Vatican, but make a big deal about it in Israel?
"Why can't you respect the haredi person, who is essentially your brother? A smoker would no light a cigarette if he thinks this would disturb the people around him, so why not be considerate on this issue?" she asked.
Grossman argued that it was the Egged bus company's interest to try and fulfill its customers' wishes. "Why should I have to get squeezed between two men and rub against them while the Halacha forbids this?"