Toronto, ON – In response to an incident that took place on a Porter Airlines flight earlier this week, Rabbi Reuben Poupko, Chair of the Canadian Rabbinic Caucus, issued the following statement:
“From a mainstream Orthodox perspective, there is nothing wrong whatsoever with sitting next to a woman on an airplane or public transit. Leading Orthodox halachic authorities have long maintained a consensus regarding the permissibility of opposite-sex seatmates.
“A tiny minority within the Orthodox community considers it religiously prohibited to sit next to a person of the opposite sex to whom they are not related. While we do not share their perspective, we respect their right to be reasonably accommodated for their requests, as other passengers are accommodated for various requirements.
“In such a case, the onus is on a religious passenger to advise flight staff and secure an alternative seating arrangement in conformity with the airline’s procedures. These requests should be done with utmost sensitivity and respect to the other passengers, who should not be inconvenienced in the process. Moreover, these requests should be carried out in advance of boarding so as to prevent disruptions to the flight.”
The Canadian Rabbinic Caucus, a body of Canadian rabbis representing synagogues across the spectrum of Jewish religious practice, is a partner organization of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA).