Published On: Sat, Feb 27th, 2016

El Al hit by discrimination suit over Orthodox seating on planes

El Al flights have often been flashpoints of friction between the austere form of Judaism practiced by many ultra-Orthodox Jews and secular Jews.

EL AL JEWISH HAREDI -vimeo.com

A retired lawyer is suing the Israeli airline El Al for gender discrimination after she was asked to switch seats on a flight from New York to Tel Aviv in order to accommodate an ultra-Orthodox man who asked not to be seated next to her.

According to The New York Times, in December 2015 Renee Rabinowitz, a Holocaust survivor, unwillingly agreed to switch her aisle seat in the business-class section on Flight 028 after a haredi man took his place in the same row near the window, but did not want to sit next to her. Haredi are not allowed by religious interpretation to touch women.

She’s being represented by the Israel Religious Action Center, a liberal Israeli group that has previously fought against other forms of gender segregation in the country, according to The New York Times.

“Despite all my accomplishments – and my age is also an accomplishment – I felt minimized, ” she told The New York Times. “For me this is not personal, ” Rabinowitz said. “It is intellectual, ideological and legal. I think to myself, here I am, an older woman, educated, I’ve been around the world, and some guy can decide that I shouldn’t sit next to him. Why?”

El Al spokeswoman told The New York Times that “any discrimination between passengers is strictly prohibited.”

“El Al flight attendants are on the front line of providing service for the company’s varied array of passengers, ” the statement said. “In the cabin, the attendants receive different and varied requests and they try to assist as much as possible, the goal being to have the plane take off on time and for all the passengers to arrive at their destination as scheduled.”

El Al flights have often been flashpoints of friction between the austere form of Judaism practiced by many ultra-Orthodox Jews and secular Jews.

The Hebrew-language news website Walla reported that earlier this week, a Haredi Orthodox man, 36, from Beit Shemesh, rioted on an El Al flight home from Poland after complaining that the in-flight movie was “immodest.”

The passenger damaged two viewing screens and attacked the cabin crew during his rampage on Wednesday,

When the plane landed police took him into custody to question him, according to Walla.

El Al told Walla that the company “is not prepared to accept violent behavior of any kind during flights.”

 

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