NYT Reports Religious Jewish Woman Sues El AL Over Gender Discrimination


81yr-old Jerusalemite, Renee Rabinowitz sues El Al after airline changed her seating, claiming an ultra-Orthodox man refused to ‘sit next to a woman’, behavior that ‘systematically harms a woman’s dignity.’

By Itay Blumenthal


An 81-year-old woman from Jerusalem may set a legal precedent regarding religiously-motivated gender segregation in Israel’s public spaces. A lawsuit filed by Renee Rabinowitz against national airline El Al, first reported in the New York Times on Friday, centers on the airline’s decision to ask her to move seats because an ultra-Orthodox man refused to sit next to a woman.

“This issue is very important to me, and that’s why it was important for what happened to me to be published,” Rabinowitz told Ynet.

“This is behavior that systematically harms women’s dignity, and action must be taken so incidents like this don’t reoccur,” she said. “It’s a principle.”

Rabinowitz, who moved to Israel from the United States about a decade ago, said she is not opposed to the ultra-Orthodox. Born in Belgium, her family fled the Nazi occupation in 1941, and received a religious education. She said she married rabbis twice and she still observes the Shabbat. What’s more, one of her grandsons is ultra-Orthodox. “The ultra-Orthodox population’s idea is wonderful, as long as they don’t tell me what to do,” she said.

“Despite all my accomplishments — and my age is also an accomplishment — I felt minimized,” Rabinowitz told the New York Times.

Rabinowitz, who walks with a cane, agreed to move to a “better” seat that was closer to first class. ““For me this is not personal,” Rabinowitz told the newspaper. “It is intellectual, ideological and legal. I think to myself, here I am, an older woman, educated, I’ve been around the world, and some guy can decide that I shouldn’t sit next to him. Why?”


View original Ynet publication at:



  1. Sharon says:

    I rarely make comments on Facebook, but I agree with her wholeheartedly. They have been doing this for years. I am not against the religious or ELAL, but let’s use some common sense. I carefully select my seat because I am disabled, and while I would like to accommodate someone when I can, it is not always the best for me.

  2. Grace Tolis says:

    Airline staff/management should have a policy that, in these instances, they will MOVE the MEN [who state that they cannot sit next to a woman]. They should assign these men the worst seats on the plane then see whether or not the men’s ‘religious beliefs’ outweigh their own comfort. I think their comfort will rule and they’ll stop whining and expecting special treatment while promoting mistreatment of females. Let women keep their seats – they [women] are not the ones complaining. Also, in respect to a similar case in which two men stated that they could not be ‘served’ be a female stewardess – well, I guess it’s just too bad for them if there are only female attendants; i.e., if I ran the airline, those men would just NOT eat or drink during the entire flight. Again, let’s see what wins in the end when airlines and others stop catering to the ridiculous whims of these men who promote themselves and discrimination against women.

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