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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Not My Kind of Mechitza, Separation

I have no problem with separate seating in synagogue for prayers.  Actually I prefer it.  I like the "isolation."  It helps me concentrate.  I don't go for socializing.  I always look for a seat that's by the wall, an aisle or the front row.  I'm sensitive to noise and movement.  But I also like to know what's going on.  It helps me concentrate.

In my regular shul there's a lacy curtain, and we sit in a balcony.  Yes, we have a classic Ezrat Nashim, Women's Section.  Depending on where you sit, you can see through the lace, the holes.  It's important to know what's happening, when to sit, when to stand, when the Aron Kodesh, Holy Closet where the Torah Scrolls are is open and when the Torah Scrolls are being carried and held.

I don't like those modern, OK very twentieth century, Orthodox synagogues which are set up in the round, men and women staring at each other.  That's sometimes more problematic than sitting together.

Even worse for me are the curtains which can't be seen through.  I took this picture in a small local shul where I heard the megillah, reading #2 out of 4.
 

I don't go there to pray.

I really like the shul which is in my "backyard."  Really, from the back of my house, you pass a playground and then the shul.  It's that close.  Thank G-d!

15 comments:

Sammy Finkelman said...

It's possible that money is part of the reason things are that way. There are much better ways to do things.

BM> I don't like those modern, OK very twentieth century, Orthodox synagogues which are set up in the round, men and women staring at each other.//

This reminds me of the Concourse Center of Israel. This is where my brotehr's Bar Mitzvah was held.

This was actually a Conservative synagogue (with an Orthodox annex on Creston Avenue where they had a daily minyan and on Rosh Hashonah and Yom Kippur they also had an Orthodox minyan downstairs. Now the week my brotehr had his Bar mitzvah they were doing renovations and so it was held somewhere else in the building where there was a Mechizah.. The men were sitting on one place and the women were at right angles.

So my my mother's brother from Montreal and his family got to sit ibn a place with a Mechitzah and didn't get to see what that place was like.

The Mechitzah was I guess waist high. That's the cloest I have ever seen to anythimng where it is in the round.

Lady-Light said...

How about an ezrat nashim where the women sit in a tiny room (more like a closet)on the 2nd floor, and have to look through a small hole in the floor to where the men are davening below?
My husband described a shteibel like that somewhere in Brooklyn, where he visited once years ago.

(btw, I finally responded to your comment on my 'going home' post. Go, visit).

Batya said...

Sammy, Lincoln Square Synagogue and the Young Israel of Scarsdale are in the round. The Great Neck Synagogue is similar. The Young Israel of Holliswood has clear mechitzot.
Quite a few of these shuls have parallel minyanim in small rooms, in which although the barrier is minimal, men and women don't stare at each other. They all face the front.

Shy Guy said...

Sammy Finkelman said...

It's possible that money is part of the reason things are that way. There are much better ways to do things.

---------------------------------

The cost difference between laced and non-view curtains is immaterial.

:)

Batya said...

ll, awful. Was it built to be a shul? We had a temporary place like that, and a guy, (long story for another post) took a sledge hammer and knocked down some of the wall.

Yes, Shy, it's not about money. You're right

Sefardi Gal said...

I agree with you. I like the isolation...but only to the point where I'm still able to hear and follow what's going on, of course.

Batya said...

We ladies shouldn't leave the shul planning to men.

Lady-Light said...

Actually Batya, I don't believe it was built to be a shul (re: my earlier comment on the hole in the floor); it was an apt., or rooms in a building, or similar, if I remember correctly what my husband told me.
Either way, in my opinion it's a shanda.

Batya said...

ll, women shouldn't be shy about protesting. Our shul never had nearly enough room for the women and we needed a place downstairs for those who couldn't walk up, so we put pressure on teh committee, from teh inside, too. Luckily, or sadly, there were so few seats in the Ezrat Nashim that we were in a situation where not even wives of some committee members had seats.

Lady-Light said...

Batya, I don't think these women cared. They accepted the situation as a given: it's ok to daven in that kind of place. They accepted "their place."

Ok for them, but you won't see me davening in a place like that. I'd get more kavannah out of davening at home, alone.

Batya said...

LL, not at all. I wrote about my shul, and that's why we've done major expansion, adding two new women's sections for handicapped and baby carriages, plus more room upstairs. And more room for men.

Hadassa said...

Shalom!
I'm with Batya. Ladies, if you don't like the situation in the ezrat nashim, it's up to you to do something about it. For obvious reasons, the men have little idea what the situation is there. In Elon Moreh the sepharadiot have their own committee which meets as necessary and publicizes meetings in the newsletter. The main synagogue included a downstairs ezrat nashim in its renovations, probably due at least in part to requests from women.
I attended a lecture once in a synagogue that was open to men and women. The turn-out was such that the men sat in the smaller ezrat nashim and the women took the other section. The rav commented on seeing things from the other side and everybody laughed, but seriously it was an informative switch.

Batya said...

Maybe we YESHA women are discovering our voices, Hadassa. Our requests are all within halacha (Jewish Law,) more than those MO shuls in chul.

Lady-Light said...

Don't get me wrong--I'm all for having a voice and speaking out to improve our situation. I said that the women there, in NY, seemed to accept their placement as a 'given.'

Also, on a personal note, I don't like davening in a balcony ("classic" as you put it) ezrat nashim. I've always prefered to daven in a women's section below, on the other side of but on the same level as the men. That way, I feel as if I am an integral part of the service.
In a balcony I feel like a spectator at an opera.

Batya said...

LL, I think that the popular MO set-up is for reasons like you gave. It's also easier for a more equal distribution of seats.
IMHO, there are Halachik problems when it's so easy for men and women to stare at each other and communicate. Those transparant "mechitzot" are jokes as far as I'm concerned. I do like to see what's going on but not be part of the action. I don't need it.