Dear Rabbi: Your Talmudic advice column
I’m an ultra-Orthodox man who will not sit next to a woman on an airplane. After boarding a flight recently I politely asked that a woman next to me move her seat to accommodate my religious obligations. The woman refused and the flight was delayed. Airline security was called, and I was threatened with being removed from the flight and being blocked from flying in the future by being assigned to the no-fly list.
I need to fly to see my family and to conduct my business. I feel that people are misunderstanding my religious needs and discriminating against me. What should I do?
Misunderstood in Monsey
Unfortunately it appears that nobody misunderstands your intention to discriminate against others based on gender. In America and most of the world, segregation or the denial of civil rights based on race or gender or sexual orientation no longer is condoned. That being said, you have three options to choose from.
You can live apart from the world in a self-imposed ghetto with other like-minded people, and continue to practice your gender segregation together. Or you can go out to the public sphere with your current attitudes and continue to clash with the people around you. Or you can modify your beliefs and behaviors and no longer practice segregation, discrimination, and the denial of civil rights based on gender. It’s up to you to decide how to live your life.
Rabbi Dr. Tzvee Zahavy was ordained at Yeshiva University and earned his Ph.D. in religious studies at Brown University. He has published several new Kindle Editions at Amazon.com, including “The Book of Jewish Prayers in English,” “Rashi: The Greatest Exegete,” “God’s Favorite Prayers” and “Dear Rabbi: The Greatest Talmudic Advice” which includes his past columns from the Jewish Standard and other essays.