Misogynist Jews on a plane

December 31, 2014 • 10:00 am

I don’t use the term “misogynist” lightly, because to me it means “someone who hates women,” not simply “a sexist.”  But what else can one call a group of orthodox Jews who won’t sit next to women on planes for fear they’ll be polluted?

This has happened three times in the last couple of months. First, in September, a group of Orthodox Jewish males caused an eleven-hour delay on an El Al flight from New York to Tel Aviv because they wouldn’t take their assigned seats next to women. As the Independent reported then:

. . . the flight did not take off on time, according to Shalom Life, after a group of Haredi Jewish passengers refused to sit next to women, believing that men and women should be segregated.

“People stood in the aisles and refused to go forward,” a passenger on board the flight, Amit Ben-Natan, told the publication.

“Although everyone had tickets with seat numbers that they purchased in advance, they asked us to trade seats with them, and even offered to pay money, since they cannot sit next to a woman. It was obvious that the plane won’t take off as long as they’re standing in the aisles,” he said.

The Haredi passengers agreed to sit in their assigned seats for take-off, but one passenger described the overall experience as an “11-hour long nightmare,” referring to the difficulty before take-off and the ensuing disturbances on board, caused by the Haredi passengers “jumping out” of their seats when the fasten-seatbelt sign was switched off.

Then on December 20, a Delta flight on the same route experienced the same trouble, though this time the flight was delayed by only half an hour. The Independent reports again:

.  . . a group of male ultra-Orthodox Jewish passengers refused to sit next to women, the third such incident in recent months.

The cabin crew on the Delta flight out of John F. Kennedy Airport tried to find seats for the men, but were met with refusal by other passengers, some of whom who took a dim view of the reasoning behind the request.

The same thing happened in October as well, and again on the same route, delaying the flight for an hour.

This is unacceptable. No passenger should be able to request not being seated next to a woman, even on religious grounds, and no passenger should be forced to move to comply with such a request. Any Jewish person causing such a disruption should be immediately booted off the plane. The scene of frenetic ultra-Orthodox men offering other people money to get a seat next to a man is simply repugnant.

Finally, lest you think this is a simple religious stricture that has nothing to do with regarding women as inferior (and you’d think this only if you knew nothing about Orthodox Jews), have a gander at what else the Independent says:

Many Haredi Jewish communities practice strict gender segregation and refrain from touching people of the opposite gender who are not close family members.

Haredi publications in Israel generally do not print pictures of women and girls. In 2009, the Israeli newspaper Yated Ne’eman famously doctored a photograph of the Israeli cabinet in order to replace two female ministers with images of men.

In the UK, the ultra-Orthadox [sic] Jewish community in Stamford Hill, north London, was recently criticised after signs requesting women to walk on a certain side of the street were erected, promoting segregation for a Torah parade.

Here’s one of those signs, and note that there’s no explanation:


This gender segregation is one way that extremist “ultra-Orthodox” Jews resemble Muslims. In their synagogues men pray on the main floor while women are restricted to the back of the temple, often upstairs behind a screen.

Further, many Orthodox Jewish women, like Hasids, are the equivalent of breeder cattle, whose duty is simply to tend the home and pump out more young Jews.  They usually are forbidden to have real jobs, and must cut their hair short and wear wigs or other hair coverings because natural uncovered hair is considered “immodest.” In this way Jews also converge with Muslims. Finally, menstruation is considered unclean among the ultra-Orthodox, and women are obliged to take ritual purification baths after their periods. (Two good books on the repression of Orthodox Jewish women are Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots, and Cut Me Loose: Sin and Salvation after my Ultra-Orthodox Girlhood.)

Finally, there’s that infamous prayer.  MyJewishLearning gives the history and context of the phrase that begins the morning prayers of many Orthodox Jews:

“Blessed are you, Lord, our God, ruler of the universe who has not created me a woman.”

As the article notes, Orthodox apologists argue that this phrase merely shows gratitude that males have the privilege of performing more religious rituals, but it comes across as intolerant and sexist. And why would only men have that privilege? My own version of the prayer is “Blessed are you, O Ceiling Cat, who has not created me an Orthodox Jew.”


191 thoughts on “Misogynist Jews on a plane

    1. I’m having a hard time imagining someone *not* getting hauled off a plane when they state that they want the seating changed because their religion holds Jews to be unclean, or blacks.

      What is conspicuously absent in these news stories are links to similar situations in the EU, where the airlines have to pay passengers for delays. Are there no such orthodox Jews in Europe? Or do airlines move immediately against such disruptions, and even get authorities involved?

    2. BTW, I just realized that these folks didn’t feel strongly enough about the issue to pay for empty seats when making reservations. They had that option, just like cellists who book a seat for their instrument, but their religion didn’t matter enough to make them value someone else’s inconvenience as much as their money.

  1. They’re barking mad.

    “Blessed are you, Lord, our God, ruler of the universe who has not created me a *insert race, nationality, belief*.”

    It’s fascism in a primal form.

  2. I feel very sorry for those people….they live in a world in which they’re frightened of almost everything and everyone. Even if they manage to intellectually pull themselves away, unlearning their emotional responses could take a lifetime.

    1. That’s a good point, though their ‘fright’ is often translated into smug superiority that they can see grave danger where the wicked see only ordinary life. When the Amish leave their insulated world they have the same problem: a struggle between their desire to condemn and their desire to overcome fear.

  3. A few years ago I read the excellent book: “The Year of Living Biblically: One Man’s Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible” by comedian A. J. Jacobs. The author tries to live one full year following the Bible literally. In a very funny way, it shows how ludicrous most of the biblical laws are. Recommended!

  4. I am a non-practicing Jew and I am proud of my heritage. I find the ultra-Orthodox to be among the most repugnant group of people on the entire planet. In my personal experience, they lack personal hygiene and also tend to be extremely dishonest in business dealings. I recall one Hasid that I was representing stating to me that he didn’t have to comply with a contract he signed because his only true covenant was with God.

    They represent another example of trying to justify what otherwise would be deemed psychotic, abhorrent behavior and middle-ages thinking with religious nonsense.

    1. I curious what part of the heritage you are proud of. Certainly, European Jews have been above average in arts and sciences and business, but the ancient part of the heritage seems no better or worse than that of other religious groups.

      When churches or organized religions have political power, they do not seem to use it wisely or benevolently. The only really good part of organized religion is the part left over after theology and mores are excised.

      That would leave some poetry, music, art and architecture. If that’s what you are proud of, that’s fine with me, but other societies have had golden eras also.

      1. Can one be proud of their heritage without presuming their ancestors or peers are any better than – or even different from – anyone else’s? I’d like to think so. Maybe I’m misreading the question and comment, but don’t they sort of imply pride = superiority?

        1. I guess it’s one thing to be glad for a circumstance as opposed to taking pride in something that is by all accounts purely coincidental.

          Many Danes take immense pride in events and stories of the past that has absolutely nothing to do with them. It easily transforms into blind nationalism.

          Some call not criticizing your heritage patriotism.

          History repeating. 🙂

      2. I do note that Mark P mentioned feeling some pride, rather than claiming any particular right to it. Plus he used it as a context for the rest of his comment.

        ….I live exactly 800m from where Einstein lived between 1923 and ’34, and I feel kinda proud of that! It’s not accompanied by any particular sense of achievement, but I can’t help feeling a bit of pride about it!

          1. No, I found out later. I only mentioned it to try to illustrate something about pride — it will attach itself to anything sometimes!

          2. I guess we all do it to some extent.

            At least I sometimes have a knee-jerk reaction to criticism of something I feel associated with. There must be some pride involved there.

          3. Perfectly true.

            I can feel proud, for instance, that so much of southern England is still wooded. (I like trees, I’m English, therefore – pride. This notwithstanding that I haven’t lived there for 50 years so can claim absolutely zero credit for that fact – and for all I know the woods may have suffered over the last few decades). That was just the first arbitrary example that sprang to mind.

          4. I remember writing a letter to the editor of The Globe and Mail ( Toronto) during the Bush, Jr., era, in response to a column painting all Americans as fat, loud-Bermuda-short wearing WMD-in-Iraq-believing Bushitez…One doesn’t have to be an America-love-it-or-leave -it type to want to stand up against the above type of BS.

          5. Right on. The few Americans I know in meatspace are religious, but they’re in no way fans of the conservative/libetarian outlook on life.

            Their apathy regarding the political situation took a bit of getting used to, but I think being from a country with 5.5 million citizens where the center of power is close by has its privileges.

            My apathy in the governing of EU is probably closer to the mark.

          6. Thanks Merilee and Jesper.

            Sometimes the criticism does get to be a bit much…unless I’m the one doing it, of course.

    2. In my opinion, being proud of ones heritage makes about as much sense as being proud of the colour of ones eyes.

      It’s something one has absolutely no control over, it’s strictly random chance.

      I reserve my pride for personal accomplishments.

      This has a flip side as well, apologizing for the transgressions of ones ancestors is just as silly as being proud of their accomplishments.

  5. I agree that such behavior is offensive and should not be tolerated. If passengers won’t sit down, they should be removed from the plane.

    1. My reaction when I read this story as well. I’m pissed off that they were accommodated and it speaks to how we tolerate sexism but op not other repugnant isms. It would not be okay if these same men refused to sit next to black people, I suspect So it should not be okay that they refuse to sit next to women.

      And screw those signs in the UK. If I were a citizen there, they would only make me walk on the other side of the road in defiance.

      Earlier this year, Indian men made a request at a Canadian airport to not go through the security lines that were run by women because they are not supposed to interact with the opposit sex. I felt, and so sis the women, that accommodating this sent the message that discriminating against women was ok. Because no one was “hurt” and the accommodation was an easy one, many disagreed with me when I wrote about it. They didn’t think the women were harmed. My position is they were harmed because they were removed from doing their job simply for being women. Some tried to argue that we accommodate women being searched but that is a false equivalency. These women were merely interacting with men not touching them or stripping them naked.

      1. Many of us agree with you as well. We need to stop treating ignorance as a disability, and more of a choice.

      2. “we tolerate sexism but op not other repugnant isms”

        On this specific incident I disagree with you Diana. If the guys had just been some sort of drunken macho hoons** who said “We’re not sittin’ next to fricken _women_!” they would have been off that plane so fast their feet didn’t touch the ground. It’s only because they claimed religious grounds that they were able to inconvenience so many people for so long. It was religion that was being tolerated, other than that the sexism wouldn’t have been tolerated.

        (** Okay, I’m finding it hard to conceive of any ‘normally’ sexist male, so to speak, who would object to just sitting next to a woman).

  6. In Biblical times, were all of the Jewish people ultra Orthodox – or worse – or is this a relatively new thing, a visceral hatred of women?

    Yes, I have done some reading and am well aware that biblical women had next to no rights, but even then, the ultra orthodox seem to be beyond extreme, almost inhuman.

    1. At no time have all Jewish men been ultra orthodox and/or women-haters. As with other peoples, there has been a great diversity of religious interpretation and behavior throughout Jewish history. Remember the dispersal and Jews living in many different cultures with whom they had to get along to survive. The so-called Jewish nation was never monolithic or uniform in worship.

      Think of: Sadducees,Pharisees,Essenes,Sicarii,Maccabees,Gnostics,Hasidim, followers of Jesus’brother James, early Christians, followers of Greek and Roman philosophy,etc.

    2. Archaeologist William Dever maintains that the laws and customs described in the Old Testament were never widely practiced, but rather represented the aspirations of the ultra-conservative priests of the Jerusalem temple. The Bible says, for example, that there is only one temple, but archaeology has revealed many; and it says there is only one god, whereas archaeology has uncovered plenty of evidence of the worship of Jehovah alongside his consort, Asherah.

      I think it’s just our bad luck that the more odious set of beliefs were the ones to get written down, and thus immortalized, among the “people of the book”.

  7. In India, there is a sect called “Swaminarayan” in the state of Gujarat. The “sadhus” (religious sub-heads/priests per se) of these sects are supposedly celibate and are not allowed to have any contact with women. Their temples have separate sitting arrangement for men and women (include their temple in Toronto, Canada). Couple of years ago, a feminist writer was asked to leave the stage in a function to make room for these “sadhus”.

    The same people ran into trouble in Canadian customs, and the CBSA had to make special accommodation for these priests

      1. On PEI (where? Diana will know). A group of Thai Buddhist monks took up residence. They objected when their mail was delivered by a woman postie. However they were open to new customs and gave in.

  8. No passenger should be able to request not being seated next to a woman, even on religious grounds, …

    While I’m 99.9% in agreement with Professor Ceiling Cat, the word “even” there suggests that a religious reason should be granted a greater weight than a non-religious reason. Perhaps “irrespective of grounds”?

  9. No, they are not ultra-orthodox, any more than the Genesis Flood creationists are orthodox Christians. They are radical extremists, making stuff up as they go along to bolster their identity, and should be called out on their own terms.

    1. …They are radical extremists, making stuff up as they go along to bolster their identity …

      Here’s a question then:

      What is the distinction between religious people who sincerely try to follow their best understanding of God/Spirit and religious people who make stuff up as they go along to bolster their identity?

      It seems to me that the ‘overlap’ between those two groups is very large — so large that it’s virtually impossible to make a distinction just on rational grounds. It’s all about bolstering one’s identity … as a genuine lover of the divine. Even the new or relatively new interpretations which are heavily influenced by recent history are framed as “getting back to pure Truth” by the devout. And how do we show that no, that’s not what God means?

      Because it seems to me that that’s what we’d measure the distinction by — checking to see what God is really like. Otherwise, all we’ve got is sincerity and these Jews seem pretty damn sincere.

      1. To claim orthodoxy is to pretend that one is following a tradition. In this case specifically the tradition embodied in the Talmud, commentaries, and codes of Rabinnical law based on it. None of which I would attempt to defend; but I’m making the point that the tradition that these particular people claim to be bound by is of their own making, thus adding an extra layer of inauthenticity to their antics.

          1. they could have booked a block of seats all together.

            This was in the process of occurring to me too! Their only reason for not doing so must be, as you, to put on a publicity stunt for their odious views, and to have an excuse to be unpleasant to the female passengers.

          2. Depends how far ahead they tried to book.

            Still, if they knew they were going to be likely seated next to women (and surely they must know that women are often allowed to fly on planes too?) they should have seen it coming…

        1. I don’t understand. The Jews in this case claim to be following traditions and they’re interpreting an ancient text in a way they believe is proper and traditional. Given that they’ve been around a while I don’t think they can be considered any more ‘inauthentic’ than most religions.

          There are, as always, exceptions. Here’s a religion I might grant your argument on: modern “Druids.” That is, those who claim to be following the ways of the ancient Druids but who are, according to all legitimate historians of the period, really and truly making it up. Even given what little we know about the Druids, we know enough to recognize modern anachronisms.

          I wouldn’t place Orthodox Jews in this category of recent origin and invented history. The Bible and Quran seem pretty damn misogynistic and concerned with Purity, and the attitudes of the Orthodox Jews themselves seem pretty damn medieval.

    2. I don’t understand the relevance of the distinction you make. Ultra-orthodox is a perfectly suitable term to describe them given both the technical meaning of those words and conventional usages of them.

      The same could be said of the term “radical extremists.” The two terms do not exclude or even interfere with each other.

      Regarding making stuff up . . ., Sastra commented on that more clearly than I could have.

    3. Just call them Haredi then. They hate being called ultra orthodox anyway, I seem to recall (though I could be wrong).

    1. There’s a woman in the background of that pic who’s been removed too. I find it pathetic that their sensibilities are so delicate they can’t even look at men and women in the same picture. Even extremist Muslims manage that, albeit with an accompanying insulting and ignorant comment about the woman.

  10. […]lest you think this is a simple religious stricture that has nothing to do with regarding women as inferior[…]

    Of course, it has to do with regarding women as inferior, but also with the obsession with (their insane version of) chastity – something common to all Abrahamic religions.

  11. I guess they need to photoshop these folks off the airplane.

    The idea that the airplane would be delayed 11 hours only shows how afraid even the Jews are of religion. They should have been kicked off the airplane in 5 minutes with a request never to come back.

    1. AS I read it, the flight was delayed for 30 minutes. The Haredi stood for most or all of the 11-hour flight — must have been fun for the other passengers to get to the lavatory.

      Why didn’t they book as a bloc in complete rows? Does anyone here fly? Unless you book 3 or 4 months in advance, the chances of blocking out a row unassigned is pretty small.

      Still a tribute to the power of Bronze age goat-herder mentality to propagate itself. It’s also interesting how social pressure works both ways. I’d guess that some passengers would have been inclined to switch, but not when it became clear that it offended others.

      1. Wonder who they stood next to? I wonder if it would have been in order for other (presumably male) passengers to object to being stood next to? I certainly wouldn’t much like it unless the standee was sufficiently personable as to be interesting. (Which probably implies attractive and female, sorry for my sexism. But then I’d feel impelled to offer her my seat…)

  12. The airlines need rules in place to prevent these people from disrupting the lives of all the other passengers if they board. If they can’t adjust to the “real” world long enough to be on the airplane,they should not fly.There should not have to be special accommodations for religious reasons.

    1. If I had been on that flight, I would have mouthed off. I bet it would have been my ass kicked off for it too.

  13. The cabin crew on the Delta flight out of John F. Kennedy Airport tried to find seats for the men, but were met with refusal by other passengers, some of whom who took a dim view of the reasoning behind the request.

    This gives me additional hope for humanity. In a world in which religious faith is generally treated with gentle deference there are people who aren’t afraid to be seen as impolite because they take “a dim view of the reasoning behind the request.”

    I suspect that the Karen Armstrongs would have gotten up, bowed in respect with their eyes cast low, and changed seats, enchanted by the beautiful way these men seek the sacred even when it inconveniences them and others. No, this is not her own understanding of God, but faith is faith and there is no violence in a request.

    1. “…were met with refusal by other passengers, some of whom who took a dim view of the reasoning behind the request.”

      If they were Muslims, these people would have been accused of Islamophobia and Salon and HuffPo would be publishing articles about this is all Sam Harris’s (or Richard Dawkins’s) fault.

  14. It’s amazing how dumb and unreasonable religion makes people.

    I mean, wouldn’t there have been a conversation between the orthodox Jewish passengers like this:

    “Hey, you know, we might have to sit next to women.”

    “If that happens, let’s try to get people to switch seats.”

    “OK, but what if they don’t want to switch?”

    “Well, we’ll just have to tough it out.”

    I guess the emphasized is the part of the conversation that didn’t happen. Or, it did happen, and they decided to be entitled, unreasonable assholes.

    It also shows, apparently, how parochial they are. It seems like they just assumed the icky women would move for them.

    1. “Well, we’ll just have to tough it out.”


      This is radical, but it might just work:

      Fucking buy seats grouped together! Throw in an empty buffer row just to be safe and you’re all set.


  15. Where in Talmud, which is what guides these people in everything they do, is it permitted to travel by aircraft? And if the Rabbis do permit it have they never heard of charter flights?

    OTOH I can understand that people who have never progressed beyond kindergarten would have a problem having to be seated next to a girl! Any fule kno that girl cooties are the very worst kind – to a four-year-old!

    1. Iirc there was some silly concern regarding rabbis in jets possibly flying over cemeteries. Apparently there was a taboo of some sort about being in cemeteries and thus there was a lot of hot discussion on how far up the boundaries went.

      Whenever people tell me that Jews are far more reasonable and secular than Christians, I note that the less of the latter, the less of the former.

        1. An experiment we need to perform! At what altitude above a cemetery in combination with what proximity to a woman does spontaneous combustion occur in an ultra-orthidiot Jew? I’m sure there must be some sort of a function to plot….


          1. More like a puff of dust, I think.

            There can’t be much energy left in those atoms.

          2. I’d say this would be a great fake paper to write up, but it takes some special skills to convey the humor in experiments on Jews to see when they catch fire. I wouldn’t recommend it. Probably only Sarah Silverman could pull this off.

          3. If one had a teleport, one could transport them to Rio at Carnaval time. That should about do it…

          4. …It depends, of course. If nothing causes them to spontaneously combust, not even getting a lap dance while sitting on a tombstone….

            Ben, I can just hear the (white) Divine Sarah saying that with her characteristic questioning expression.

          5. But that’s just it! We need to bless Tel Aviv with the full Carnival experience! Millions of jiggling tanned boobies and all!

            …and, of course, for fullest effect, do it not during the run-up to Easter, but during Pesach with the climax on Yom Kippur….


          6. I’ll tell Viviane Castro to book her ticket. Preferably not seated next to any Haredim.

            (No I won’t include a link, it might imbed…)

          7. Yes, though I preferred her previous year’s magnificent feathered wings. If the Lord ever wants to send me an angel, that’ll do. 😉

          8. @Ben

            Were the Dutch Angles? I never knew that. Umm, yup, they’re good-lookin’ but I’m a sucker for naturally-tanned female persons 😉


            I think I’d better not look at them Angels. Though ‘Blink’ was one of my favourite eps.

          9. No no you need to constantly watch those angels or else, zap! Back to the Silurian!

          10. Oh of course!! I was mixing up the Angels with Medusa. It’s the Angels’ touch that’s catastrophic, not their looks. Too much Googling Carnavals obviously scrambles the brain.

          11. All flight levels up to and including the firmament are taboo as far as flying over cemeteries is concerned. However these rabbis determined after much study of scripture that if they were completely encased in plastic the cemetery cooties couldn’t get to them. So that is what they did. Unfortunately they left airholes so they wouldn’t suffocate and I think the cemetery cooties got in anyway but just gave them an even nastier case of arrogant self-righteousness than they already had.

          12. That is a bit weird when you think of it. Since in a plane they are completely encased in aluminium and plastic anyway, along with everyone else. And far more substantial than a plastic bag.

            And as you say, the air holes would be a fatal flaw in the scheme.

          13. I see this was discussed at far greater length at #34 below, including a link to the Mail article. So my comment is superfluous. Sorry.

      1. what is the difference in being a few thousand meters above a cemetery and a few km next to a cemetery? Isn’t that some kind of flat earth thing?

          1. Well, duh. That is the heaven/hell axis, of course.

            Wait… do Jews even have heaven & hell?

    1. I’ve had it with these Monday through Friday Jews on this Monday through Friday plane.

      (To use the phrasing overdubbed for TV.)

      1. Or, “I’m tired of these mysogynistic men on this mysogynistic airline!”

        Because if the airline accommodates them, they are tacitly accepting their mysogyny.

  16. I’d conspire with a seatmate in that situation, for the one to take the money to swap seats, hand the money to the other, and then that person offer the money to any woman on board in exchange for a seat swap….


    1. Or have a woman disguised as a man sit next to them. She could reveal herself after the flight when they’ve happily chatted to her throughout.

      1. I’m sure all sorts of possibilities abound…such as seating them next to the most elegantly dressed drag queen available for the occasion. What? They want to sit next to a man, and she’s a man, sweetie! Or, find a single man traveling with a baby girl. Are they really going to refuse to sit next to such an adorable little baby? How ’bout a woman officer in the IDF in uniform? Better think twice about giving her any shit….


      2. Reminds me of the Life of Brian scene with the women going to the stoning. Perhaps they could sell beards in the duty free shops. 🙂

  17. I think they tried to pull that same gender-sidewalk thing in NYC and they were laughed at, as well as getting some court time for trying to gender segregate public buses that ran through Brooklyn. When walking through a very Jewish area in Crown Heights some would also cross the street rather than walk past me because of my dirty, dirty girl parts (possibly my naughty long hair too). This could be selective memory, but I don’t recall seeing many Jewish girls around and assumed at the time it was because they were home schooled.

  18. I stay in stamford Hill a couple of nights each month. I havn`t seen that sign but it wouldn`t surprise me considering the weird behaviour of these UOJ`s.
    They also wear some very strange hats.

    1. As an “honor” as married man, I once had such a hat, a streimel, the one that looks like a fur cake, stuck on my head during the (all-male) dance at a Hasidic wedding. I have a large head and a lot of hair, and the thing went flying off my head and rolling across the floor, taking my skullcap with it. I was afraid I’d ruined a very expensive hat, but you should have seen the men rushing to cover my icky, naked head! Honestly, I’ve seen people less concerned at a man’s wiener popping out of his fly. It’s a different world!

  19. A post about Jews gives me an excuse to once again recommend The Finkler Question, a novel by Howard Jacobson which won the 2010 Man Booker Prize. It is an excellent novel focusing primarily on Jewish identity from a few different perspectives. It is hilarious, educational, and thought-provoking. I strongly recommend it to everyone, but especially members of the tribe. Also, I am an acquaintance of Leah Vincent (author of Cut Me Loose – recommended by Prof. C.C. above), and recommend her book as well. She has an unbelievable story to tell, and is also a good neighbor.

  20. “Any Jewish person causing such a disruption should be immediately booted off the plane.”

    I agree 99%. If the ceiling cat would remove the word “Jewish”, my agreement would be 100%

    1. I was about to make the same comment.

      (Though not faulting CC, his post was in the light of these specific passengers).

  21. I’m rather surprised by this story.

    I’d have guessed that after the second or third hour that the plane was forced to wait because these people were afraid of cooties, the rest of the passengers would have beat them senseless and stuffed them in the overhead bin.

    1. To repeat, the plane took off with only a half-hour delay [My guess is that they WERE threatened with de-planing if they didn’t take a seat] At least some of the Haredi weren’t accommodated, so after takeoff they stood in the aisle, and continued this drama for the duration of the 10-hour flight.

      It appears that they were obeying the seat-belts sign, with or without prompting by the cabin crew, so it was likely that was an up-and-down maneuver every time the plane hit rough skies.

      1. It appears that they were obeying the seat-belts sign, with or without prompting by the cabin crew

        Oooh…were I the captain, I’d be flicking that switch like it was the flipper control for a pinball game.


      2. These days they tell you to wear your seat belt at all times, of course assuming you’re in your seat! Also a 10 hour flight will have at least two meals served, a main meal and a snack, which they would have to have been seated for, they would also have had to move aside for every person who went past to the toilet. The whole thing is ridiculous, and I am quite sure that if any individual one of them had been traveling alone they would have simply sat in the seat, but because they were all there watching each other they couldn’t admit how silly it all was, and had to show each other how pious they were. It’s all theatre.

        1. Maybe they wore those demo seatbelts that the flight attendants use to show how to fasten the damn things. That way they would have them on while standing up as well as lwaving their unoccupied seatbacks in the upright positions and their tray rables secured…

    2. Certainly an example of overly-generous accommodation of and consideration given to a group of primates possessed of a monumental sense of entitlement.

  22. It should also be mentioned that these ultra-orthodox groups insist on the teaching of creationism. You will often see, especially in older publications, statements that Orthodox Jews had assimilated evolution into their world view. That is no longer true. The ultra-orthodox tend to push creationism, using arguments copied from Christian creationists.

    More recently that practice is also leaking into more conventional Orthodox Judaism, Rabbi Moshe Averick and David Klinghoffer being examples.

    In Israel there is a growing problem with pressure to teach creationism in the schools. Since the ultra-orthodox are a rapidly rising percentage of all Israelis, they will more and more tend to get their way on this.

    As Professor Ceiling Cat knows well, there are many good evolutionary biologists in Israeli universities. But there’s trouble ahead for the teaching of evolutionary biology in Israeli public schools.

    1. This is true of the Lubavitchers, at least in 1998 when I asked a L. rabbi who gave a talk to the sociology of religion class I was taking at the time. Duane Gish was mentioned, for example. Ugh.

  23. Religion is such a thing, wondrous and sometimes appalling beast. As a fellow Jew (though as a reform Jew, these dudes would NEVER accept that I am a Jew), it makes me viscerally recoil when I read stories like this one. How can people who nominally share my religion act in this godforsaken, and I mean that, way? But then, we must realize that there are biblical literalists- or self-promoted “true” interpreters of the Bible’s meaning- everywhere, in pretty much any fundamentalist/evangelical/orthodox branch of most religions- at least the monotheistic ones with which I am more familiar. Its not limited to my own nutso-extreme religious wing. Wherever people build their religion out of fear and ignorance, and use it to hold power over subgroups of their sect, this kind of crap comes out of it.

  24. I watched a British documentary recently called ‘Is Religion Unfair to Women’ (or something similar) which I found via Patheos. (I think I tw**ted it.) It included an Hasidic Jew who tried to justify things like his refusal to shake a female researcher’s hand (it didn’t belong to him!). It’s an hour long, but worth the effort.

  25. “Should please”…

    Uh? Normative claims imply…do this, and not that. That signs wreaks of impoliteness on many levels. It should read:

    “We are so irrevocably prejudiced against woman that we beseech all woman to maximize the distance between them and our utter ignorance. Sorry for the inconvenience, but it’s not us, it is our religion that makes us intolerant.”

    1. To me, they’re the ones with the problem, so they should move. Women should be able to continue to walk on both sides of the street, as is lawful. Men who don’t like it can stay off the sidewalk altogether. I recommend the middle of the road.

      It reminds me of a story, which I think happened in India, of concern about the number of rapes taking place. So a law was proposed that placed a curfew on women so as to “keep them safe”. A female politician pointed out that it was men who were committing the rapes, so they should be the ones curfewed. The proposed law was thus abandoned.

      1. Which reminds me that the anti-choice movement lacks a prominent “Keep It in Your Pants, Guys!” campaign which might actually put the focus on the seed, if you will, of unwanted pregnancy.

        I think I understand why KIIYPG is eschewed in favor of victim-blaming and lady-shaming. I think the asymmetry is obscene.

        1. Yeah, they should hire Bill Clinton’s first U.S. Surgeon General Jocelyn Elders to articulate and frame such a campaign for them, if not Clinton himself.

      2. I told this story to my friends yesterday in talking about instances where women are removed instead of the behaviour of men toward them curtailed.

        Once, when I was in my 20s, I was going to meet my friends at A coffee shop. It was a busy Place near a lot of bars & I didn’t feel like going in a crowded place to weight as I was very self conscious & I often was verbally harassed by men.

        As I was waiting in my car, a security guard approached my car. I opened the window just a small crack, not knowing who he was. He told me I had to leave because as a women I would attract men to me there & that would cause trouble.

        Since I didn’t want to go in, I just went home. It turned out my friends were inside. I remember being angry that I had to leave because the security guard decided women were the problem, not the me! I never forgot how frightened & angry I was at the same time. I think my dad was totally angry about it too and called up the shop to give them hell over it.

          1. The one that I always hated when I was young (no longer a problem!) was guys whistling etc. It was really scary because I have had some bad experiences with men. I walked to work – it was my only way of getting there – and a 20 minute walk became 45 minutes as I changed routes to avoid the building sites. The reaction of men if I said something was always that it was a compliment and WTF was my problem? This attitude seems to have remained largely unchanged in many circles.

          2. I was so afraid from being constantly harassed while roller blading in a park, that I used to plan where I could go if pursued. I eventually stopped going because after the 10th stupid remark over 30 minutes, I felt like crying and it just wasn’t worth it.

          3. I can imagine scenarios where it’d be not inappropriate — such as, if the woman was not only dressed seductively, but she also did a “Hey! Look at me!” sashay past the work site while winking at and blowing kisses to the crew. Or if she was married to / dating somebody on the crew and was the type to walk up to him on the job and kiss him full-on in front of everybody. That sort of thing.

            But somebody dressed in regular (even if business formal) attire just walking from point A to point B? Not cool. Even if she’s the most beautiful woman you’ve ever laid eyes on.


      1. The woman behind him looks rather…well, a mixture between overbearing amusement and bewilderment. 🙂

      2. I notice he’s sitting next to a woman.

        And I wonder how they came up with the idea of plastic as a barrier from cemeteries? It’s not like plastic gets a mention in the Talmud. And if plastic can protect them, why can’t the aluminium skin of the air frame? And if it’s to do with cemetery air, and a plane doesn’t go high enough, that severely limits the places on the ground they can go too – not within 30,000 feet of a cemetery.

        Perhaps I should be pleased women aren’t as yucky as dead people! They can get slightly closer to us – as long as they don’t look I suppose.

        Their time in public areas must be filled with constant fear. Not sure I’m very sympathetic though.

        1. What is interesting is that poking holes in the plastic nullifies it’s zombie protection feature so the wearer is faced with the difficult choice of breathing or observing religious rules.

          Strangely enough though, should the plastic bag acquire holes accidentally that’s all right, zombie deflector field function is unimpaired.

          Apparently their god is a very stupid and unobservant god.

          1. I wonder if it’s a sin to use a plastic bag that you know has weak seams and therefore there’s a high likelihood of bursting them “accidentally”.

            And I have to go there – what happens when they need to use the bathroom? There aren’t many elderly men who could manage an 11 hour flight. Perhaps there are Hasidic requirements that help keep all the appropriate muscles in good shape into old age to aid in such situations?

  26. Would they fly if the captain, first officers on the flight deck were women?
    How do they explain where they came from.. a test tube?
    How do they greet their own mother and sisters..
    A nod from 40 paces?
    Their very existence as a group relies on.. women! and very understanding women or are they chattels, slaves?
    Powder it any way you deem fit this is ‘Y’ status and elitism of the very absurd and you don’t need a religion for that.

  27. There is also the 2011 case of the B110 public bus in New York that served a Jewish community. In that case women were required to sit at the back of the bus and had been for *dacades* before the issue became public. It wasn’t just segregation, the women had to specifically sit in the back where they wouldn’t be seen by men because just seeing women would cause men to be sexually excited and give them women cooties, which of course is the woman’s fault since all women are evil temptresses. :-p


    And as of 2013 it may still be going on…


    1. Women cooties. So *that’s* why I’m always itching! And scratching makes it worse.

      Ah well, such is life, I’ll just have to get used to it, won’t I?

  28. Moreover, as with many religious folks, they haven’t thought it through very carefully. If some god need them to do her/his/its boxing for her/him/it, she/he/it can’t be nearly as powerful as they claim.

  29. Reminds me of an incident many years ago when my husband invited a delegation of Iraqi scientists to our home for lunch. I went to some trouble to prepare platters of vegetarian food to avoid any issues with Halal or non-halal food stuffs. When they arrived their minder asked me to refrain from offering to shake hands when introduced to them as they didn’t want to touch an infidel woman. I suppressed, with difficulty, the urge to upend the platters on their heads. I noted that were happy to eat the food despite the fact that I had touched it!

    1. That speaks volumes. Basically, they make rules that suit them, and they can always find a way around the rules if they need to. As far as I’m concerned it just proves the rules are all about power and control and religious faith is just an excuse.

  30. “No passenger should be able to request not being seated next to a woman, even on religious grounds”.

    I would go further and say “especially on religious grounds”. Of course I can’t really think of what grounds one might properly object. Perhaps if they had an extreme psychological disorder which prevented them from engaging in regular… oh wait.

  31. I swear this extreme religious protocol resembles an induced phobia or some other kind of mental condition. Someone oughta do a brain scan on one of these guys, and compare them their brain activity to people with arachnophobia or Tourettes syndrome.

    1. Agree. They also vividly remind me of the “dig a hole and fill it up” strategy used in basic military training, the purpose being to ingrain a habit of obedience so deep that eventually questioning whether the orders make any sense doesn’t even occur to the successfully drilled.

      The more pointless, worthless, arbitrary yet somehow “sacred” and “purifying” the rituals the pious need to follow, the less important reason itself becomes. If it made sense, anybody could and would do it.

      Also, extreme religious protocols makes it painfully obvious that you and your group is different from the Others. In some cases, it literally becomes impossible to deal with anyone outside your own faith community. So it’s a twofer: indoctrination and isolation.

      1. I seem to recall reading that the pointlessness was the point. The more meaningless and pointless the ritual, the more performing it showed devotion.

        IMO that way of thinking is perverse, utterly stupid, and malignant in that it facilitates the sort of mindless obedience that is a prerequisite for atrocities.

  32. You know, after thinking about this, if I was stuck on a flight sitting next to someone who was standing in the isle because they refused to sit next to a woman I’d probably feel an uncontrollable urge to blow my nose on their pants before that flight was over.

  33. This exact thing happened to my 87 year-old friend, Richard, in September, on an Alitalia Flight, Rome -> NY-Kennedy. Flying from Verona to his home in Hawaii, he carefully planned for 3+ hours in NY to clear immigration/customs. Although many Italian women on the flight were quite voluble, and gun-toting security did come aboard, no-one was removed and take-off was delayed several hours. Richard missed his connecting flight at Kennedy and had to overnight. This incident didn’t seem to be covered by the media at all.

  34. “…menstruation is considered unclean among the ultra-Orthodox, and women are obliged to take ritual purification baths after their periods.”

    It’s not even an “ultra-“Orthodox thing; the requirements surrounding menstruation – i.e. the wife’s going to the ritual bath (mikveh) once a month, her and her husband’s not touching each other (or even touching the same thing at the same time, e.g. a baby carriage) for at least 11 or 12 days every month, her and her husband’s having separate beds, etc – make up one of the 3 unofficial pillars of Orthodox Judaism, along with observing the Sabbath and a kosher diet.

  35. Another good book is Foreskin’s Lament by Shalom Auslander. It is the male perspective of escaping Orthodox Judaism. The oppression affects both women and men and it starts from the cradle. It reminds me of the song from South Pacific…. You’ve Got to be Carefully Taught:

    You’ve got to be taught
    To hate and fear,
    You’ve got to be taught
    From year to year,
    It’s got to be drummed
    In your dear little ear
    You’ve got to be carefully taught.

    You’ve got to be taught to be afraid
    Of people whose eyes are oddly made,
    And people whose skin is a diff’rent shade,
    You’ve got to be carefully taught.

    You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late,
    Before you are six or seven or eight,
    To hate all the people your relatives hate,
    You’ve got to be carefully taught!

    …. and this includes fear of women based on religious doctrine

  36. When I was a child, I was taken to Catholic masses by my two Catholic nannies (at different times, they didn’t work at the same time). I remember that women had to sit in the pews on one side of the aisle and men on the other side. Women had (and still do) to cover their hair in church, too.

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