During a meeting of an inter-ministerial taskforce that was set up to deal with the phenomenon, Abutbul explained that a sign placed near a synagogue in his city, which instructs women to walk on the opposite sidewalk, also contains a "gracious" request that women refrain from "chattering" as men leave the prayer session.
"This sign has been up for more than 10 years. What's the problem? We've never received a complaint, and secular women do not frequent the area. The only secular woman to visit the site was the minister (Livnat)," he said.
Sign outside Beit Shemesh shul (Photo: Alex Kolomoisky)
Livnat said the sign was illegal as it was not placed near the synagogue by the municipality. "Your claim that the sign appeals to women in a 'kindly' manner is irrelevant," she said.
At some point during the meeting Abutbul mockingly referred to Livnat as "dear madam minister." The irked minister said in response: "Call me Limor, or madam minister. Don't call me 'dear madam minister.'"
"The exclusion of women, regardless of the tone in which it is enforced, is something we cannot accept," she said.
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