An ultra-orthodox religious man objected to being allocated a seat next to a woman on an El Al flight.
The airline removed an 81-year-old woman passenger from her seat to make room for an ultra-orthadox Hasidic man. Renee Rabinowitz reluctantly gave up her seat so that the flight from Newark to Tel Aviv would depart on time but says she plans to sue the airline.
Ms Rabinowitz is an 81-year-old retired lawyer whose family relocated to Isreal while fleeing Nazi rule during World War Two.
She said: ‘Despite all my accomplishments – I felt minimised.’
‘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?’ she told New York Times.
Many ultra-Orthadox males see even the most inadvertent contact with a female who isn’t their wife as verboten under strict interpretation of the Torah.
Despite thinking the request was sexist Ms Rabinowitz, who walks with a stick due to bad knees, reluctantly agreed to move.
No reports of the interaction mention any suggestion that the male passenger should move seats.
Defending their actions without commenting on Ms Rabinowitz’s treatment, E1 A1 said their flight staff deal with a vast array of passengers, who have varying beliefs and needs.
‘In the cabin, the attendants receive different and varied requests and they try to assist as much as possible, the goal being to have the plane take off on time and for all the passengers to arrive at their destination as scheduled.’
Ms Rabinowitz’s legal representation Israel Religious Action Centre argue she was discriminated against based on her gender.
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