In the late 1950s, a rabbi at Yeshiva issued a report about a Bronx synagogue, stating, "The seating is separate, without a mechitza, but peculiarly enough, during the High Holidays the balcony is mixed.
The rabbi has done outstanding work in providing leadership for the congregation during the course of the year," wrote the RIETS administrator, "but has not yet been able to achieve his goal, which was to implement the new regular mechitza in the new building being contemplated.
I am therefore asking that the Hebrew Theological College decline recommendation of any candidates to this position either now or in the future, until such time as the mechitza is properly installed in this congregation.
Also, since Orthodox women are obliged to sit separately (and often behind a mechitza
, or divider), if you're female you often can't even see what's going on very well.
These buses adhere to rules and customs not generally found on curbside carriers, from a mechitza
down the middle separating men and women, to prohibiting chametz on Passover.
Womenfolk above, the menschs below--the women can't complain: it's all ritual, no one's fault, merely a gesture to what, who remembers; the women disappearing behind the mechitza
, then peeking out, disappearing again.
Though the word hijab derives from the Arabic word for "barrier" or "veil" (Bouselmati 2002; Debray 2004; Vianes 2004) and its primary reference is to the curtain that separates men and women in prayer; like the mechitza
in an Orthodox Jewish synagogue, a hijab is a type of kerchief and not a veil, though revealingly the debate in France focused on the le voule (veil) when referring explicitly to the hijab (Zouari 2002; 2004).
He regards the Orthodox Jewish women of his childhood synagogue, segregated behind the mechitza
, as teachers of authentic emotion, and the mechitza
itself as a barrier stultifying to both women and men:
As the most sacred space in Judaism, the Wall is under the zealous supervision of Orthodox Jews, which means that, like everything else in Orthodox Judaism, it is divided into a male part and a female part, with a mechitza, a physical divider separating men from women, running down the middle.
Our family isn't Orthodox, but a mechitza still runs down the middle, dividing and defining us by gender and in my mind, I see them with me once more.
A variety of seating arrangements in an Orthodox sanctuary with a central bimah are possible, although they invariably involve a segregation of the sexes, with women separated from men either behind a mechitza
(divider) or above the main floor in a balcony.
The precise reading of Rabbi Soloveitchik's position regarding mechitza
is the subject of a debate.