An online dictionary defines tush as an exclamation of disapproval. Personally, I’m hesitant to use such an exclamation when it comes to the ongoing fracas created by Hareidi (Black Hat) Jews refusing to be seated in their assigned place, if it means spending the flight to Ben Gurion Airport beside a woman. Thirteen years ago, after settling down into my designated seat aboard El Al #28 to Tel Aviv and buckling in as any responsible passenger would do, I was politely asked by the flight attendant to change seats in order to accommodate a Hareidi man who refused to sit beside a woman. Five minutes later, I was approached by the same flight attendant requesting yet another seat change on my part, for the very same reason. There I was, in seat number three, before the plane had even pushed back from the terminal!
How is it that the same “ritually scrupulous” coreligionists of ours, sit down beside a woman with nary a word of protest upon boarding a domestic carrier, such as an American Airlines flight at LaGuardia bound for Miami? If a Haredi Jew can withstand five hours to San Francisco with a female by his side, then it’s beyond me why the same individual refuses to take matters sitting down, when there is a member of the opposite sex in the very next seat, as the wide body aircraft lifts off for Tel Aviv! Speaking of lifting off for Tel Aviv, would the same person, rigid when it comes to the “performance of mitzvot” be equally as unbending if say, for reasons beyond his control, he found himself flying to Tel Aviv aboard a European carrier, such as Alitalia or Lufthansa?
Some time ago, the English edition of the Forwards ran an expose of a young woman who was raised in a Hareidi home in Brooklyn, but subsequently “went off the path”. Like many others, in her rebellion she went “whole hog” and became a “dancer” in a “gentleman’s” establishment in Manhattan. She reported that there were countless times that she found herself in the lap of a “Hareidi” man, only to quote to him from Halacha or Jewish law how his behavior sits with Halacha. Perhaps, he was under the misconception, that only sitting beside the opposite sex was in violation to Halacha.
I could be wrong, but I seem to recall that it was the great sage Hillel who once said that any behavior you find obnoxious when done to you, by all means refrain from being equally obnoxious when it comes to others. The yetzer hara (evil inclination) in me looks forward to the day, when some extremely attractive secular Jewish young lady of magazine model quality, who finds Hareidim totally reprehensible, kicks up a fuss upon boarding a flight and refuses to remain seated beside this man with a long beard and black hat, because he has ogling her since planting himself in the seat next to her.
El Al may wish to consider installing a floor to ceiling curtain towards the back of its aircraft to accommodate such Hareidi passengers with “special needs” where oddly enough their religiosity becomes a factor only on New York/Tel Aviv flights. Something tells me that the rest of the passengers on the flight would be most grateful.