Religious quiz for parking permit ends

July 6, 2001

Bar-Ilan University's management has decided to cancel its practice of issuing two types of parking permits: one for religious lecturers and the other for their secular colleagues.

The decision follows a complaint by a lecturer at the university that, after requesting a parking permit, he was grilled about whether he drove on the Sabbath.

According to an old policy, religious lecturers were given special parking permits bearing the logo of the university, a microscope intertwined with a Torah scroll. (The logo is supposed to represent the university's unique combination of modern scientific research and Jewish learning.) Those who did not observe the Sabbath were given permits with just a parking number.

David Weinberg, the university spokesman, said: "The practice of distributing two types of parking permits was an attempt to avoid offending the feelings of religious people, so that they would not find the university's logo, which includes a Torah book, on cars [whose owners drive] on the Sabbath.

"Lecturers who refused to answer the question as to whether they drive on the Sabbath received a permit without the university's logo."

Mr Weinberg added that many years ago - after complaints of discrimination by some lecturers - the administration decided to take steps to cancel the two types of permits.

He said that "following questions by [a reporter from the newspaper] I, the university president decided to cancel the questions about whether lecturers travel on the Sabbath. It is a pity the practice was not changed years ago."

The majority, 60 per cent, of Bar-Ilan's students are religious. The remainder are secular.

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