Today I stopped in a Kupat Cholim (sick fund clinic) located in a chareidi neighborhood on my way to catch my bus. I needed to pick up some vitamins from its pharmacy. There were a few seats. Almost all were occupied by men. When I walked in, I was the only woman waiting my turn. There were two empty seats next to each other, between the window and an elderly man, dressed in the standard chareidi way with a full beard, too. I took the seat by the window. I like sitting by the window. A few minutes later, a young chareidi mother with twin toddlers came in. She parked herself in the seat between me and the chareidi man.
NOW, WHAT DO YOU THINK HAPPENED NEXT?!Almost everyone in the pharmacy was chareidi; I was an exception. Well, do you think the man got up? According to all the articles in the paper and internet, that's the Law. Men and women aren't supposed to sit next to each other. Nobody spoke. Obviously, we were all strangers, including the woman and man who were sitting next to each other.
So, what do you think happened? I'll tell you. Nothing. That's right. Nothing happened. We all politely waited our turns. The man had the number before mine. He told me, after I had gotten up, before it was my turn. I had gotten up, because the room was getting very crowded, and I didn't need to sit anymore.
And today when I caught the bus to Ofra from Jerusalem, it was almost full. The only empty seat I could find was next to a man. I sat there. Did you expect me to stand? He didn't have on a kippah, but he made a point of sitting as far away as he could.
Real life isn't like those headlines. Real life's much more boring and tolerant.