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4 Jun, 2016 03:51

‘Serious damage to modesty’: Israeli rabbi bans girls over 5… from riding bikes

‘Serious damage to modesty’: Israeli rabbi bans girls over 5… from riding bikes

An Ultra-Orthodox Israeli rabbi has introduced a new decree in one of Jerusalem’s neighborhoods that forbids all girls over the age of five from riding bicycles, claiming the activity is “provocative” and could “cause serious damage to their modesty.”

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The rabbi is from Jerusalem’s Nahloat district and part of the ultra-Orthodox Haredi branch of Judaism that rejects modern secular culture. His ruling was distributed to a number of synagogues.

“We inform parents that they are obligated to forbid their daughters from age five and up from acting in this illegitimate way,” Ynet reported, citing the ban. 

The rabbi said that bike seats “cause serious damage to their modesty” and the sight of girls sitting on them can be “provocative” to men.

Israel is not new to such extreme religious rulings. In December, ultra-orthodox rabbis demanded that all women avoid higher education in the city of Bnei Brak, which is located just east of Tel Aviv and known as the center of Ultra-Orthodox Judaism, Yeshida World News reported. According to the decree, higher education posed a danger.

Haredi rabbis have also tried to prohibit the use of the internet and smartphones in the past.

The Haredi stance against women reached a boiling point back in 2014, when ultra-Orthodox Jews refused to be seated next to women on airplanes on religious grounds, forcing the public to petition Israel’s national airline, El Al, to “stop the bullying, intimidation and discrimination against women” on its flights.

In another controversial example, a conservative Jewish newspaper, HaMevaser’s weekly, caused a public outcry when they edited a picture of world leaders to photoshop out German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, the EU’s high representative for foreign affairs, Federica Mogherini, and Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt.

Ultra-Orthodox communities in Israel are known to impose dress codes and other restrictions on women, and also advocate gender segregation on public transport and in shopping precincts.

Another of their demands requires that women ride at the back of buses. At one point they even proposed that separate cars be built for men and women on Jerusalem’s light railway, but the initiative was not supported by the government.