Report: Chareidi Passengers Cause Flight Delay After Insisting On Moving Seats Away From A Woman

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Once again, the actions of Chareidi passengers appear to have resulted in a tumult and delay of an El Al flight.

Chen Rotem, a passenger on the flight wrote on Facebook: “El Al flight 002 from JFK to Ben-Gurion was scheduled to take off at 6:00PM. We were all boarding and taking our seats, waiting and then the tumult began. Four chareidim refused their assigned seats, next to a woman.

One of them, especially devout and ascetic, boarded the plane with his eyes closed tightly, led by his friend – and remained so throughout the flight. The flight crew did its best to resolve the issue, albeit without success. The flight attendant tried making room for them on the flight.

Rotem continues, “The chareidim are not willing to talk or look at the flight attendants, and all the men on the team, apart from the captain are now busy with this, instead of preparing for the takeoff and serving the passengers. The chareidim do not blink despite being told ‘If you do not sit, you can get off the plane right now’.

In the end, after long minutes of negotiations, the flight team surrendered. And then a long diplomatic process begins to move people from their places, in order to find a row of chairs for the four chareidim.”

Chen Rotem notes in the post that “all this time, other people wearing black yarmulkes, are expressing surprise and revulsion at the behavior of the four chareidim. In the end, after a lot of writhing, shouts and maneuvers, two women, one American about 70 and the other a young Israeli woman, agree, also because of the pressure of time, to move and the crisis is solved. The crew, who had run through the aisles for more than an hour, seemed exhausted before take-off, although they probably already had experienced such scenes. Just to avoid any doubt: the women were not upgraded to a better place, just moved to other seats in economy class. Not that this is relevant to the matter of principle, of course.”

Regarding the delay in taking off because of the refusal of the four chareidim to sit next to women, Rotem wrote: “The bottom line: While the El Al crew was engaged in practical theology and issues of personal belief versus civil rights and civil order, 12 planes of other airlines bypassed flight 002. The flight to Israel took off an hour and a quarter late.”

Chen Rotem ends the post with a question, “One question for the good people in El Al, is there any official policy on such matters, and if so, what? Or is this a privilege reserved for only one segment of travelers?

The post sparked a lively debate on social media, with commenters inciting against chareidim, using language and terminology that are not worthy of being posted here.

El-Al wrote in response to the writer of the post: “Chen, Shalom, we apologize if any inconvenience has been caused, and any discrimination against passengers is strictly forbidden. The crew sought to assist as much as they can, all in order to take off in time and bring the passengers to their destination according to schedule.”

(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)




50 COMMENTS

  1. This is very sad. While sh’miras einayim is very admirable, perhaps someone who is so makpid should not fly on a passenger airplane or ride on a public bus because there is absolutely no way that one can demand separate seating. Nor is it permissible to steal other passengers’ precious time. These pious men surely know that גזל מקטרג בראש and that only death can atone for chillul Hashem. But please don’t bad mouth all chareidim. And, truth to tell, as a frum woman, although I’ve never made a stir so as not to cause a chillul Hashem, I’ve suffered some mighty uncomfortable flights seated next to men. What with narrow economy seats and a “neighbor” taking liberty to sit with his legs apart or a teen male “neighbor” falling asleep and flopping to the side with his head landing on yours truly’s shoulder (I had to gently shake him off), I wish these unpleasant experiences could be avoided. I’m wondering if some practical solution can be found with the cooperation of El Al such as seating requests based on gender in advance, just as one can order mehadrin or vegetarian food. It’s not a matter of asking someone to give up an aisle or window for a middle seat – it’s simply arranging the seats in advance with a bit of sensitivity so that no one has to switch. It should not be so hard. Chiloni people will not request it and they’ll get seated randomly. And those who do request it will have their sensitivities respected without causing delays or embarrassment. This is not about degrading women – it’s merely respecting men’s and women’s choices to sit separately.

  2. Why can’t this all be avoided at the time of ticket purchase and/or seat assignment? Simply put a M or F next to name and so much agate can be avoided. Chareidim, whether or not you like them have a right to sit next the gender of the choice after having paid $1200-1500 for their tickets. Why not accommodate everyone? You don’t have to live like them but if hijab-wearers had that same demand I think they would be respected.

  3. What in the world does have to do with chillul hashem?.this ‘anger’ is for one reason Chareidim. Chareidim have every right not to be seated next to the opposite gender. Would they say the same if it was an amish? NO

  4. When I flew el al I got a window seat and a irreligious lady got an aisle seat and I get claustrophobic when I sit in a window seat and have to go out every who knows how long so I asked her if she could switch with me, to which she made a scene and they moved me to a different seat

    I never made a scene about it

  5. Yaapchik, I always thought that the idea of indicating M or F for seat selections would be effective, but until that happens (or never happens) these particular Chareidim are at fault for 1. Chillul Hashem. 2. Geneiva’ 3.public embarrassment of others. As another poster pointed out, they have the option to depart the plane (and forfeit their flight costs), not fly at all, or act like a mentch on a flight.

    Although their ways don’t reflect my personal Torah lifestyle, the $1200- $1500 they spent on the flight shouldn’t be more important as maintaining their commitment for avoiding aveirah. Same deal with those that think they are looking at “untznious pictures” on YWN; they have the choice to get their news elsewhere or no news at all- as they so choose.

  6. The solution is actually quite simple: if you receive to sit in your preassigned, get off the plane. If you refuse to get off the plane, police should forcibly remove them as they would in other situations. As for these “pious Jews” who make up these “not allowed to sit next to a woman” rules along the way, they should make their own airline or not fly at all. If you want to fly with the rest of society, than act like the rest of society.

  7. @Yaapchik
    YOU ARE WRONG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Civil Rights laws here in the USA and NY State (where this flight was held up) do NOT permit gender identification on the tickets, nor do they give a right to be seated next to people of the same gender.

    The airplane is a place of public accommodation and subject to these laws. The Chareidim seeking special seating either have to buy enough seats and pay for advance seat selection (if offered) to ensure same gender seating, or fly a private charter.

    Their is no obligation to accommodate those seeking to break US laws as you suggest.
    I would not be giving up my seat for this type of a request, nor would I expect my wife, daughters or granddaughters to do so. Then again, the chances are that these 4 would not be flying business or first class. LOL

  8. These chareidim were right, no doubt about it, maybe just a little bit of better communication skills would help them get through things in a easier and smoother way.

  9. People would consider me to be a more modern woman. However I do understand the sensitivities of these men in not wanting to sit near a non tznius woman for an 11- 12 hour flight. There must be a solution.

  10. Yaapchik Says: “Chareidim, whether or not you like them have a right to sit next the gender of the choice after having paid $1200-1500 for their ticket”

    No Yapp, they DON”T have a “right” to choose the gender of the passenger sitting next to them unless they block out a whole row of seats. The El Al tariff sheets (terms of service) provide for no such right nor is there such a policy beyond making “reasonable accommodating” to reseating requests. Delaying an international flight with 250 passengers is NOT a reasonable accommodation. Let them charter their own plane or stay home. El Al should have dragged these meshugaaim off the plane if they wouldn’t have voluntarily left and most of the frum passengers would have cheered the El Al security agents who dragged them off.

  11. On my last flight back from the US a few years ago I was asked in Yiddish by a frum woman to change seats with her so she wouldn’t have to sit on a overnight flight next to a dark skinned man, who turned out to be very educated and civilized, but I can still understand her reluctance. It’s not just men that have grounds to insist on same sex seating and if enough people make requests to the airlines they’d see that it’s in their interests to accommodate their customers. In this case ElAl probably didn’t want to eject them from the flight since they would then have to (under ElAl policy) remove their luggage also, which would have taken a lot more time. Is anyone from ElAl public relations reading this and do they have comments?

  12. Why all the hate? I disagree with the chassidim as well, but I think that the females who refuse to change seats with them are creating a chillul chilonim. Why not change a seat to accommodate someone’s frumkeit? It’s also their fault that the flight was delayed!

  13. Everyone is shouting and cursing at the chareidim. Why not shouting and cursing at the fellow passengers frum and not frum Jewish and not Jewish for refusing to be a bit a accommodating?

  14. It’s actually the Israeli government’s fault.

    They’re always going to be extremists.
    According to Israeli law, the airline is not allowed to request a seat change based on gender. So, instead of being able to deal with this issue within a few minutes it became a drawn out process.

  15. Yaapchik,

    The M or F wouldn’t work because they couldn’t reserve 2 seats. The airlines would have to reprogram seat allocation and people pick seats as they wish and would probably ignore any possible m or f designation.

  16. 20 years ago when I flew with Elal this wasn’t a problem. The secular travelers were willing to accommodate Hareidi m & move over a seat. The secular media & pro feminists have pinned the two societies against each other & neither is willing to comprise. There’s no big deal to move over a seat?

  17. mayerfreund- With your logic, we might as well not waste our time fasting this Tisha’Bav. If your idea of Chillul Hashem, publicly embarrassing others, and Geneiva’ of other people’s time is righteous then we might as well not waste our time being hungry on Tisha’bav- the Beis Hamkidash will never come with your logic of frumkeit. Avroham, Yizchak, and Yaakov NEVER behaved like these men.
    These pathetic men couldn’t even communicate in a Kovodik’ (private and not embarrassing) way to try to resolve their preferences, that is the real kicker.

  18. Why not simply have the police come and drag them off the plane? Not responding to someone is the worst insult one can give. It is making the person a nonentity.

  19. I am a chareidi and I know this is disgusting, repulsive and nauseating these fools are not led by any gedolim rather just the desires of their heart, what a chilul hashem!

  20. a airline who caters kosher food to its customers should set aside seating for men. 12 hours sitting next to a women is a neesoyen and men shouldnt have to sit next to someone they refuse to,same goes to women. I believe most women frum or not would prefer a lady next to her rather a man .
    lets try to get el al to solve this problem and not the passengers .

  21. CTLAWYER
    “I would not be giving up my seat for this type of a request, nor would I expect my wife, daughters or granddaughters to do so.”

    Curious. Let’s say that your 16 year-old granddaughter was assigned a window seat on a 12 hour flight next to a friendly 18 year-old secular boy. Would you not want her to attempt to find a different seat?

  22. Once on the way back from Eretz Yisroel I had a religious reason why I couldn’t sit next to my husband for the 11 hour flight. It’s just too hard to avoid shoulder and arm contact for that long in the narrow seats. I requested to be moved, telling the flight attendant I didn’t want to sit next to my husband. They probably thought we had a fight, but I wouldn’t have been able to explain it to them. They were very accommodating and found me another seat. They told the lady next to my new seat that I didn’t want to sit next to my husband. Who knows what she thought but I couldn’t explain it to her either. I don’t remember which airline it was. I was fortunate that in my experience that airline did try to accommodate.

  23. SIMPLE SOLUTION:

    Elal should offer gender segregated seats as an option at time of booking. Just as most Arab airlines do.

    Problem solved.

  24. Travellers who do not wish to sit near people of the opposite gender should arrive at the check in desk EARLY enough to put through their requests, which would usually be accommodated. These ‘fruma’ baal aveiros (ganeiva, chillul hashem, etc) most probably arrive when the gate is about to close, with overweight that they have to argue about because they dont see why they have to pay….
    I travel quite often and passengers are very understanding to religious beliefs. If these people would only have a bit of mentchlichkiet, it wouldnt be a problem at all.

  25. People calm down!!!
    Yes it is important that they switch seats so they dont sit next to women!
    I can attest to that – I flew elal – and had a window seat with a secular girl sitting next to me in the middle seat – one row behind the middle seat was empty – I asked her if she minds moving up one row to the next row as I needed more room to accommodate my medical condition. She sat in the middle seat next to a Chareidi young man – prob 18-20 years old…. what do you think happened – they started talking and then looking at each others pictures on their phones and then started becoming physical….. etc!

    So you tell me now if its important to make an effort in a nice way to switch seats????????

  26. Years ago my non-frum sister (I’m a BT) was on a flight to Israel for a Birthright trip and men refused to sit next to her. To someone who grew up secular having people refuse to sit next to you as if you’re contaminated was so insulting and embarrassing that it influences her view of frumkeit to this day. For the sake of their chumros those men have on their accounts many mitzvos that my sister might have done but didn’t because of the negative impression they gave of frum men and Yiddishkeit’s view of women.

  27. md2205:
    June 25, 2018 1:20 pm at 1:20 pm
    Once on the way back from Eretz Yisroel I had a religious reason why I couldn’t sit next to my husband for the 11 hour flight. It’s just too hard to avoid shoulder and arm contact for that long in the narrow seats. I requested to be moved, telling the flight attendant I didn’t want to sit next to my husband. They probably thought we had a fight, but I wouldn’t have been able to explain it to them. They were very accommodating and found me another seat. They told the lady next to my new seat that I didn’t want to sit next to my husband. Who knows what she thought but I couldn’t explain it to her either….

    —————————–
    Perhaps next time you should think it through first before trying to be all farfrumpt.
    Sitting next to yoyr husband on a plane during off season is not even a issur drabannan. Making a chillul hashem with your explanation to the stewardess is a d’orysa.
    You did not have to say or give the impression that you were in a fight with your husband. This is the most assenine story ive heard in a long time. Maybe you should go talk to your rav before your next flight.

  28. If the airline is willing to accommodate seat change requests for people wanting to sit next to friends or family that were assigned elsewhere, they must accommodate seat change requests for religious reasons.

    They cannot discriminate against religious people who request a seat change while helping other people requesting a seat change for non-religious reasons.

  29. IC, she could complain to a flight attendant and the boy would be arrested for harassment.

    War, right in front of everyone? Don’t give up your day job. See Iggerot Moshe EH 2:14

    Takes, why didn’t you just buy separate seats when you booked?

    There is a story about a woman who got on a bus and deliberately sat next to an Ashkenazi rosh yeshiva. He got up and there was a big argument. The next day she sat next to a Sephardi rosh yeshiva. He remained in his seat and she got off at he next stop. He explained to a bachur who questioned him “Hu rav. Ani chacham.” Neither Rav Mordechai Eliahu nor Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach would get up. RSZA even rode an extra stop just so she would not think it was because of her.

  30. The flight attendants should have handed each of the chareidi nudniks a bathing suit and told them to either sit down or swim across.

  31. Joseph, you’re talking apples and oranges. It’s much harder to accomodate based on gender because you’re eliminating as a choice all seats with a woman on either side, and where you’re asking someone to give up an aisle seat for a middle seat.

  32. as we speak, there is a report that ElAl flight ELY315 from Israel to London is making an emergency landing in Cyprus to let off a male passenger who refused to sit next to a woman

  33. Joseph, post #35, you make so much sense! CTlawyer seems to be so insensitive to reason; I’m surprised! What’s the big deal? People have the right to make requests! If an individual who is a heavy smoker had an assigned seat next to you and his stench was aggravating to say the least would you also feel that way! If someone flew with a non-Jewish airline and they refused his request, I could hear your reason. What’s the big deal? ELAL goes through more than all other airlines for safety and pre-screening why is this such an unacceptable concept? Overall the vicious vitriolic replies my comment got is hair-raising! Why make someone’s personal request, and in this case it relates to kedusha, such a criminal atrocity? If Christians had such a guideline or the Amish would you also feel that way? Muslims? Why view this so negatively? Why are there some posts above that they should make their own airline or but several seats?? Is this,I’m left left to think, your brand of Ahavas Chinam?
    I’m ashamed!

  34. AVI K:
    Takes, why didn’t you just buy separate seats when you booked.
    —————————-
    Avi K, it wasn’t me who moved seats . I was just commenting

  35. @IsraeliCharfeidi
    My 16 year old Granddaughter (actually 15) would NOT be flying alone so as to be seated next to an 18 year old boy, Chareidi, secular or non-Jew.
    A. She’d be flying and be seated with family or close friends (not traveling alone).
    B. We book aisle seats for added space, Mrs. CTL and I always book aisles across, even in First Class
    C. She’d likely be on an American carrier, not El Al

    @Yaapchik
    I am not insensitive to reason
    I stated the legalities or illegalities of the OP’s original suggestions/post.
    The flight left from NYC and had to comply with US and NY laws including the ERA which is in the NY Constitution even if it failed ratification and is not in the US Constitution.

  36. Chareidim are keeping elal in business. There are many easy solutions to this problem. all these anti chareidim scoffers will cry if elal go out of business & will fly with air kuwait

  37. Why does this post start with the word “AGAIN:” ? It sounds like yeshiva world is showing disappointment in this story. Anyone with a bit of Yiras Shomayim can understand the danger of sitting next to a women on a flight and the many isurim one can be oiver during the duration of the flight. The Nisyonios in are generation are so great! Everyone of us has a yetzer horah burning inside them and knows that there is nothing we can do unless we avoid the Yetzer Horah Mi’bachutz as much as possible! Do you not know the Gemara “iy de’ika darka achriti RASHA HO !? Please consult with your Rabbinical board before you post a Title and article like this.

    I can understand there is an issue of Bein Adam L’chaveiro here, but if you weren’t there you can’t judge. I challenge anyone to quote a Chashuveh Rov that with Pasken that one must be oiver isurim of Negiya and put himself in such a situation like this.

    Moderators Note: Perhaps YWN is saying “AGAIN” – Another Kiddush Hashem was made by demanding seat changes and holding up 400 people for the sake of a Mitzvah? Why do you assume “AGAIN” is hinting at disappointment? WHo can possibly be disappointed about the actions of these 4 people on a plane with 400?

  38. Thank you for the clarification and I apologize for reading it that way. Yes this was a Great Kiddush Hashem! Please if you don’t mind be Makedesh Shem Shomayim by putting into the Title “Kiddush Hashem Again” . The Article Quotes a Non Orthodox Passenger and seemingly give legitimacy to what he’s saying , As it doesn’t have another side representing our Torah Values.

  39. CTlawyer, re-read your post! Law is law but your vitriol isn’t law – not al pi Torah nor in the U.S. of A. You wouldn’t let your daughter etc…. THAT IS SINAAS CHINOM and unmasked hate. Re-read your words! That part is sad.

  40. I fly quite often. On almost every full flight someone is requesting a seat change. Usually, the request is to sit next to a family member or for a medical issue. In the non- jewish world they seem to be very tolerant of other peoples needs. But when it comes to someones frumkite some of bloggers here go crazy. I’ll tell you what I do if I sit next to a woman. I nonchalantly put a pillow between us.

  41. @Yaapchik
    STOP putting words in my mouth that I did not type or utter.
    I wrote that I wouldn’t EXPECT my Wife, Daughters or Granddaughters…..
    I did not say I wouldn’t LET them change seats.
    I also referenced the fact that I don’t expect these men to be flying in Business or First Class with an LOL tag.
    We generate so many miles on business travel, that the family 98% of the time does not fly coach. The 2% is on flights that are one class.
    In all my years of flying to and from EY, I have never been asked to change my first class seat so a passenger did not have to sit next to someone of the other gender. I don’t sit in middle seats, I’m too large for that to be comfiortable. Not a problem in a front cabin.

  42. I don’t usually post cus half the time I forget my password, however, I wanted to make a few comments or suggestions over here.

    1 it’s EVERY airline’s policy if you are removed from the flight your luggage is removed too.
    Airlines are fined heavily for every minute the flight is delayed which could mount into thousands..if a passenger is causing a ruckus and deliberately holding up a flight cus he won’t sit next to a female it might be that the airline has EVERY right to charge the passenger for those delayed fees..if a passenger would have to pay for delays he might think twice before being so machmir as to not sit next to a woman.

    iT’s a public place, non-religious and non jews don’t think good of these zealots.

    Also nowadays you can choose seats in advance but you don’t know who you are sitting next to, for me as a woman I prefer to choose my seats in advance cus I need aisle or more leg room.. now i go more for the exit row.

    I have had to sit next to men on numerous occasions especially on ELAL and I have no issue with it at all..I would NOT make a guy move if he had paid for a preferred seat and I would NOT move myself if I had paid for my seat.

    about 3 years ago I ended up sitting next to a very nice skver chassid from NY.. I asked him first if he was ok with it and he was fine.. the FA though offered to move me but I told her if he’s ok it’s fine.. during the flight the chassid in front of me didn’t get his glatt kosher meal so I gave up my meal so he could have something to eat.. it was a small gesture but the Flight Crew really appreciated that gesture (one of the reasons why I declined to move was cus I didn’t want the middle.. however this guy was very civilized and he just wanted to sleep.