Israel Museum offers segregated after-hour tours for Chasidim exhibit

JERUSALEM (JTA) — The Israel Museum said it would give private, after-hours tours of a new exhibit on Chasidic culture.

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The statement is in response to a Haaretz report Monday that the museum would have separate visiting times for men and women in response to the requests of the haredi Orthodox public to view the exhibit, titled “A World Apart Next Door: Glimpses into the life of Hasidic Jews.”

“The Israel Museum does not discriminate, nor does it segregate, based on gender,” the museum said in a statement following the Haaretz report. “The Museum is not changing its admissions policy; the entire Museum remains open to everyone during normal visiting hours. We regularly make arrangements for private groups to visit the Museum after hours, and give special consideration to the requests of private groups whose cultural practices are on view.”

A talkback following the Haaretz article had asked, “Am I the only one who finds this disturbing? If we keep catering to ultra orthodox ‘religious’ sensitivities like the segregation between men and women we are asking for our own doom and will very soon find ourselves no different from Iran or former Taliban-led Afghanistan.”

Another read, “Next thing we know Israel Museum will forbid women from visiting.”

Many haredi Orthodox visitors and dignitaries have viewed the exhibit, Haaretz reported. The exhibit, which features artifacts, clothing, photographs and videos, is on display through Nov. 30.

The haredi Orthodox community reportedly has not supported the museum because it is open on Shabbat, and because of issues of modesty in many of the exhibits.


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