Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Egged bus fight

Jpost: Dissent over the limits of religious observance on public buses has pitted Rehovot's modern religious residents against their ultra orthodox neighbors. The Rehovot English Speakers Organization (RESO), which has a preponderance of modern orthodox members, is preparing to petition the district court against the Egged bus company and the Transportation Ministry for "caving in", in their words, to haredi pressure to reduce service to a Bar Ilan University..."The petitioners claim the haredim are using the public arena - Egged buses - to launch a cultural war while trampling on the rights of non-haredim to regular bus service. In February 2005, Egged received approval from the Transportation Ministry to reduce service on the 318 bus that connects Rehovot to Bnei Brak via Bar Ilan University and in parallel to create a new line - the 319 - which bypasses Bar Ilan University. The 319 caters to Rehovot's haredi community which travels frequently to and from Bnei Brak. Attorney Menashe Kaplan, a resident of Rehovot who is representing the petitioners, claimed the haredim pushed for the change out of fear for the spiritual dangers presented by Bar Ilan University. "Young haredi people see modern religious men and women talking about Torah on the bus and then watch them get off at Bar Ilan," said Kaplan."Rabbis are afraid haredi children will be attracted to a secular education." Another supposed haredi claim, mentioned in the draft petition to be brought before the court, is that young women boarding the bus at Bar Ilan are not dressed modestly enough. The petitioners claim haredi pressure, especially from Viznitz and Kretchnev Hassidic sects in Rehovot, brought about the change. Rabbi Natan Weinfeld, a Viznitz Hassid and popular teacher of the daily Talmud page [daf yomi] in Rehovot, said the changes, which he helped initiate, were aimed at eliminating certain severe halachic prohibitions. He refused to elaborate, saying there was a halachic prohibition against publicizing the story because it was slander and would cause a desecration of God's name. Egged spokesman Ron Ratner rejected the petitioners' claim that Egged had caved in to haredi pressure. "We did not give in to pressure from anyone," said Ratner. "We give services to different types of citizens, including the haredim who are particularly dependent on Egged, and we are more than happy to serve them."
xmlns:dc="http://purl.org/dc/elements/1.1/" xmlns:trackback="http://madskills.com/public/xml/rss/module/trackback/"> -->

<< Home