Battle of the sexists: Will increasing gender segregation make Israel a pariah state?

A female IDF soldier in training. Ultra-Orthodox Israelis have begun taunting and yelling at female soldiers on public buses in the name of gender segregation. (Photo courtesy of the Israel Defense Forces/Flickr Creative Commons)

Last week, Phoebe Maltz Bovy—who, when she’s not co-hosting The CJN’s current affairs podcast Bonjour Chai, can be found writing for the opinion pages of the Globe and Mail—penned a column for the national newspaper about a sexist backlash ongoing in Israel. The nation’s emboldened religious right wing is rising up in a sort of antifeminist movement that has struck at the heart of what many fear is happening to the Jewish homeland: that its liberal-democratic core is crumbling under the weight of a burgeoning theocracy. She and co-host Avi Finegold debate this framing, and how Israel can navigate the tricky line between personal freedoms and a right to religiously comfortable spaces—including segregation.

After that, they tackle the question on everybody’s nose: was it offensive for Bradley Cooper to wear an oversized prosthetic schnoz to play Leonard Bernstein in the upcoming film Maestro?


Bonjour Chai is hosted by Avi Finegold and Phoebe Maltz Bovy. Zachary Kauffman is the producer and editor. Michael Fraiman is the executive producer. Our theme music is by Socalled. The show is a co-production from The Jewish Learning Lab and The CJN, and is distributed by The CJN Podcast Network. Support the show by subscribing to this podcast or donating to The CJN.