A bus line that separates between men and women has begun operating in Tel Aviv, odd news for many who consider it Israel's capital of liberality and equality.
Connex line 322, a licensed bus line, travels from Tel Aviv through Bnei Brak and terminates its route in Ashdod. Women sit in the back and men sit in the front.
"All those who are educated according to the halacha maintain separation," says Yisrael as he waits at the bus stop. "Even in New York you can see single-sex buses."
Moshe Neiman, who travels to Ashdod on line 322, says its customers understand why separation is necessary. "There is almost no conflict here. Most understand the separation and know there are reasons for it," he says.
When asked what happens when passengers do not agree to the rules he answers, "Sometimes it's a difficult process, but in the end they get the message."
Chairwoman of the City Council, Yael Dayan, formerly a Knesset member belonging to the Meretz party, was surprised to learn that a "kosher" bus line was operating in Israel's most secular city.
"We need to find out if this is a privately owned line but in any case it is unacceptable," she said.
"I will recommend to passengers to boycott the line. It cannot be that women, even religious or ultra-Orthodox, do not understand the meaning of separation in public. What about couples who board the bus? Do they present a marriage license so they can sit together?"
Councilmember Meital Lahavi, who is also a Meretz member, explained that the City Council does not intervene in transportation. "If it's a public company, this is taking place with the Transportation Ministry's support," she said.
Lahavi added that she, too, would try to eradicate the phenomenon. "In the end though this is a battle that should take place in the Knesset. I hope that finally the separation lines will be prohibited by law," she concluded.