In New York, Chasidim keep up informal ban on women driving


A New York strictly-Orthodox community continues to follow a religious tradition under which women must refrain from driving.

Though not illegal for female residents, driving runs against a long-held religious standard in the Chasidic village of New Square, New York, with the result that no women does so, a former village spokesman said.

"I don't think that there are any women in the village that drive," said Rabbi Mayer Schiller, who described himself as a friend of the community and lives in a nearby hamlet.

Located north of New York City, New Square has a population of some 7,000, according to the latest U.S. census. Most of its residents are Skver Chasidim.

"It's very much the norm that women do not drive," he said.

The town's acting mayor, Israel Spitzer, declined to comment and New Square's religious leader, Grand Rabbe David Twersky, could not be reached.

"I would say it's a combination of feeling that it's not modest and not keeping with women's...retiring nature," said Rabbi Schiller.

"As far as I know it's not a source of resentment."

New Square attracted local media attention in 2011 when a resident who had begun worshiping outside the community's synagogue was victim of an arson attack, leading to accusations of religious intolerance.

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