I witnessed something really strange. I was sitting on the 400, one of the buses from Jerusalem to the Haredi city of Bnei Brak, heading home. The bus is usually filled with Haredim as well as some non-Ultra Orthodox Jews.
In front of me was a Haredi man with an open seat next to him. A not religious woman walks on the bus, dressed “less than modest.” The only available seat (at least in the front part of the bus) was right next to this man. So she asked if he minded her sitting there. Her exact words, translated:
Woman: Can I sit there? Do you mind, even though I’m a woman?
Man: Of course not.
And then he moved his stuff, giving her room.
I’m not sure what surprises me more – that she actually cared about his feelings or that he actually cared about her’s. Either way, what a beautiful thing. She didn’t try inciting him, and instead recognized that he has religious sensibilities, even if she doesn’t necessarily agree with them, and he recognized that he shouldn’t impose his beliefs on her on a public bus.
There’s hope for us!