Chief rabbis against 'kosher' buses: Israel's Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger on Sunday responded harshly to the ultra-Orthodox demand to operate "kosher" bus lines in haredi neighborhoods, saying that the haredi public had not right to impose its opinion on the rest of the population.
"We can't be the world's landlords. This isn't the haredi public's country," the chief rabbi said in an interview to Kol Barama Radio. "We have no authority to impose our opinion on others. This is a public place."
Addressing the incident in which a female passengers was ordered to sit in the back of a bus traveling from Ashdod to Jerusalem, Metzger added that "if we want separation, setting up a special bus company for certain lines is legitimate, and then we'll be the landlords.
"But as long as they pay like we do, and it’s a public company which doesn't only serve the haredi public – what can we do?"
Rabbi Amar: Be strict on your own buses
The office of Sephardic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar said in a statement to Ynet, "A person can be strict about himself, but not about others. If the haredim want to be strict in their own buses, let them. But imposing it on other people is irrelevant."
Following a long struggle, the High Court of Justice ruled about 10 months ago that separation between men and women on buses will become a permanent arrangement only if there is consent.
The Ministerial Committee on the Status of Women last week issued an order to the Transportation Ministry to set up a hotline for women attacked and harassed while using public transportation.
Tanya Rosenblit's story is not the first in a series of harassment cases experienced by women trying to sit at the front of the bus. Several months ago, Ynet reported that Egged instructed its drivers not to assist women harassed on the company's buses, after a young haredi man demanded that a female passenger move to the back of the bus.
The woman asked for the driver's help but received no response, even when the young man allegedly tried to stop the bus from continuing its journey. When she submitted a complaint to Egged's customer service, she was told that "the driver is strictly forbidden to interfere."
The Transportation Ministry responded at the time that "bus drivers must intervene if a passenger approaches he driver and asks for his help in allowing her to sit at the front of the bus."