Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The Number One Enemy

It's wonderful that they have nothing more troubling to deal with, but this seems to be pushing it a bit:
The leaders of the Haredi Community, a prominent anti-Zionist stream of ultra-Orthodox Judaism, have called on their public to donate money for the establishment of an alternative, kosher bus service to the Western Wall.

The community is outraged by the Egged bus company's refusal to introduce a service that institutes separation between men and women.

A notice published in the congregation's newspaper declared that Egged was "systematically trampling the spirit and holiness of the haredi public by forcing on it mixed journeys of promiscuity every day." It further stated that every attempt by rabbis to negotiate a separate bus line with Egged had been rejected.

"Egged's transportation of promiscuity is currently the number one enemy of haredi Judaism, and has already claimed many victims," the ad continued.
For what it's worth, whether one agrees with the views or not, it is hard to argue with the approach. If you don't like the services a company offers, by all means, find a way to offer it yourself. If the market for such a thing truly exists, then it will likely be successful; if not, it probably won't. This is actually a good test of the Charedi population to see whether they can create, run, and support cheap busing for their own community - and perhaps more importantly, whether the average person truly cares to do so. (Egged already runs many separate-sex lines for the Charedi community.)

One of the greatest things about free-market economics is that it allows - and forces - people to choose what is important to them. If people truly feel that something is important, they will pay (extra) money for it; if they do not, they will not... particularly in a rough economic period. The charedi community has used its clout before to force companies like Egged and ElAl to cater to their demands, but only by showing that it was in the best economic interests of those companies to do so, by taking away a large customer base. Economics forces people who feel something is important to show and convince enough people of the worthiness of their position for it to come into being. This is a good situation to see just how important people view this supposed ideal of separate seating.


  1. Clearly a good use of money. /sarcasm

    Better to do it themselves than to coerce the government to do it for them, I guess, but as Brooklyn Wolf pointed out at his place, couldn't they find a better use for $100,000 than this? Like you know, sick children or something?

    It's one thing to spend a bunch of money that could have gone to charity on something frivolous. Most of us do that all the time. But to specifically raise money for a frivolous purpose is to misuse their power, in my opinion. The people who donate are going to consider their donations charity, and probably reduce their other charitable spending to compensate.

  2. That's pretty much what I was saying in the last paragraph, though I didn't spell it out. They have to choose if this is something worth using their resources on. I'm betting that if it costs more, they won't, and they probably recognize that. That's why they're asking for donations to subsidize, but that's not going to work for long and it is only drying up other resources more quickly.

  3. "Egged's transportation of promiscuity..."

    --Damn...what number bus was THAT and which seminary did it run past?

  4. Ya know, I left comments like that out...!

    All seriousness, how crazy is that line? Doesn't it hurt their own cause? Do most Charedim really believe that it's a "transportation of promiscuity?"

  5. My guess is that the "transportation of promiscuity" thing was probably something that got lost in translation. Which doesn't stop the rest of it from being... uh, extreme...

  6. 1) Um...yeah...cuz everyone who takes the #1 bus through Meah Shearim with someone of the opposite sex ends up in Crack Square the next week. Uh huh...ooooookay.

    2) Hello? I thought that's what the 1-Aleph line was for. Men in front, women in back.