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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Israeli city to enact gender segregations at some municipal Hanukkah shows

Published 01:35 22.12.11 Latest update 01:35 22.12.11

One of three performances of 'Moti Halamotai,' geared to children from the age of 4, is to be presented with gender-segregated seating and is being publicized as such.

By Gili Cohen 
Some Petah Tikva parents have complained that a city-sponsored Hanukkah show at the municipal performing arts center will not have mixed seating for boys and girls. 

One of three performances of "Moti Halamotai," which is geared to children from age 4, is to be presented with the separate seating and is being publicized as such. 

Children school Petah Tikva - Hadar Cohen - 30112011 Children making their way to school in Petah Tikva’s Em Hamoshavot neighborhood.
Photo by: Hadar Cohen

A municipal spokesperson acknowledged that one show would have separate seating and explained that it was geared toward the city's ultra-Orthodox community. Municipal sources have also said that two other evening shows that are geared for families are also to feature separate seating, meaning that of seven special performances over the holiday, three will feature separate seating by gender.

One Petah Tivka resident, Leah, who described herself as religious, expressed surprise at having to sit separately from her 11-year-old grandson at a show she wanted to attend. Females, she was told, would sit in the balcony. "It's so insulting and humiliating," she said, "and after all, it's a children's show."

The city's ultra-Orthodox education department is sponsoring additional programming in which there is totally separate programming for girls and boys, and a Hanukkah party sponsored Tuesday was only for boys, according to a schedule of events for children published by the municipality.

The complaints over gender-segregation come against the backdrop of the broader issue of gender segregation in Israel, including separate seating on a limited number of public bus lines, a practice that the High Court of Justice said could not be imposed.

It allowed voluntary gender segregation on buses on a limited number of lines on a trial basis, however.

Sources at the Petah Tikva Municipality said programming in which boys and girls are separated has been held there for several years. Particularly due to the low ticket prices for the Hanukkah shows, it also attracts less strictly observant religious people.

Tickets for Moti Halamotai cost NIS 25, compared to another children's show for which tickets purchased on the day of the show sell for NIS 85.

"The municipality doesn't have to cooperate with sexual discrimination," said Leah. "And of all times, it is on Hanukkah, the festival of lights, that we are seeing darkness."

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