Two years ago, Renee Rabinowitz took her seat on a plane from Newark to Tel Aviv.

A few minutes later, the passenger in the next seat showed up. The ultra-Orthodox man told a flight attendant that he didn't feel comfortable sitting next to a woman and that she should move seats.

Rabinowitz, who is in her 80s, wasn't thrilled about moving. According to Isabel Kershner, a reporter with The New York Times, Rabinowitz was suffering from knee problems and was walking with a cane.

But Rabinowitz felt pressured to move. And she did.

"She said she felt minimized and humiliated and degraded," explains Kershner, who has followed her story. Rabinowitz asked why should somebody ask her to move just because of her gender.

She didn't protest at the time.

But a couple of months later, Rabinowitz attended a lecture at the Israel Religious Action Center — which has been campaigning against gender segregation in public spaces in Israel.

The center's director was speaking about women being asked to move on planes. "Rene put up her hand and said, 'That happened to me,'" says Kershner. The center director pointed out that they've been looking for a test case, and she asked whether Rabinowitz wants to go to court. She agreed.

The case got a lot of attention in Israel. "It was spoken about on radio shows, current affairs shows," says Kershner. "People were writing about it, a lot of women said, 'Hey, that happened to me,' and it became quite a debate."

Last week, a court in Jerusalem ruled in favor of Rabinowitz. Kershner reported on the ruling that said from now on, airline employees cannot ask women to change seats in order to accommodate requests from men who feel uncomfortable sitting next to them.

Kershner says that El Al, the airline Rabinowitz was flying on, has committed to clarifying in writing to their crew staff that the law prohibits discrimination of such sort. "Within six months, they have to provide training to all the staff [on] how to properly deal with these situations," says Kershner.

As for Rabinowitz, she's exhilarated about the verdict.

From PRI's The World ©2017 PRI