City-owned Jerusalem Pool Puts Up Sign Saying: ‘Today There Is a non-Jewish Lifeguard'

Staff says the sign was put up because it was important to inform religious Jewish women using the facility, but center director ordered it be removed, calling it 'unreasonable'

Nir Hasson
Nir Hasson
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The sign hung up at the Zippori Center pool that reads 'Today there is a non-Jewish male lifeguard,' Jerusalem, August 2020
The sign hung up at the Zippori Center pool that reads 'Today there is a non-Jewish male lifeguard,' Jerusalem, August 2020Credit: Nir Hasson
Nir Hasson
Nir Hasson

Last week, a sign was erected at the entrance to a public, municipal-owned swimming pool in Jerusalem that read “Today there is a non-Jewish male lifeguard.”

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The sign at the Zippori Center in the Jerusalem Forest replaced one that stated “Today there is a (gentile) male lifeguard, not a female lifeguard.”

The pool has set hours for female swimmers only, a practice that accommodates observant Jewish patrons whose religious beliefs bar mixed-gender swimming. A large number of religious and ultra-Orthodox women use the pool during these hours.

Members of the pool staff said the sign was put up because women would want to know that the male lifeguard was not Jewish, adding that this was something the women were displeased about.

The Zippori Center, a campus that also features an event hall and guesthouse, has been operated in recent years by the Jerusalem Municipality. Center director Shimi Amsalem, a former senior municipality official, said that he had not known about the sign and had ordered it to be removed when he was informed about it.

“The female religious clients asked that a sign be posted on days on which they were there,” he said. “They put up the sign, but up to now, I don’t understand why. I asked that it be taken down. I don’t see any need for it. It doesn’t seem reasonable to me.”

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