Tel Aviv Diary

By Christine Purschke

On June 19, our class had the pleasure of meeting Riki Shapira-Rosenberg, Adv., a lecturer at the Academic College of Kiryat Ono and a lawyer at the Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC). During her presentation, Riki discussed the actions IRAC has been taking in order to protect the democratic integrity of the State of Israel while preserving rights for all religious communities. For example, we learned about a seven-year period in the early 2000s in which some intercity lines in the Israeli bus system were segregated by gender as the Ultra-Orthodox population in Israel grew. IRAC became involved in the campaign against gender segregation on public buses in 2001, after receiving numerous reports of women who were physically and verbally abused if not in compliance. I thought it was very interesting that many Orthodox women did not even support the segregated bus system despite their belief in modesty and gender separation in other environments, and I admire Riki and the other inspiring workers at IRAC for giving a voice to a minority often overlooked.