Gender segregation 'not Jewish law' says top rabbi

Israel's Sephardi chief rabbi has weighed into the ongoing issue of gender segregation in public areas.

In recent months there have been reports of Orthodox passengers enforcing a de facto segregation system on buses in Jerusalem and other areas, with woman who board told to sit at the back.

In January, the Supreme Court outlawed buses with enforced segregation along gender lines, and, earlier this year Israel's High Court of Justice ruled against the gender segregation of streets and pavements in the Orthodox district of Mea She'arim.

Today Rabbi Shlomo Amar delivered an unequivocal warning to those who support it, cautioning that the practice is "not Jewish law".

Rabbi Amar told an Israeli radio station: "People who do it do it for their own sakes. Certain people want to delineate a fence, perhaps because they saw a need for it."

Last month a bus service that operated in a part of Brooklyn that is home to high numbers of Chasidic Jews was made to cease requiring male and female passengers to sit separately for religious reasons.

Last updated: 6:38pm, December 5 2011