Posts Tagged: mechitza Results 4
Over the recent (and somewhat endless) round of high holidays this year, I came to some disconcerting realizations about my attitude to shul-going as a woman and a feminist.
As a rule, my husband and I don’t pray in non-egalitarian settings (or, at the very least, in ones that don’t count women in a minyan). So while I have been following the progress of partnership minyanim with respect and interest for a number of years, I hadn’t participated in one on a Shabbat morning until recently, when I attended the bar mitzvah of a friends’ son.
Partnership minyanim — Sisterhood contributor Elana Sztokman wrote a book on the subject last year — try to maximize women’s participation in an Orthodox service by extending women’s roles and pushing at the boundaries of a traditional Jewish legal framework. Women lead introductory parts of the service, have aliyot and read Torah, and there is a mechitza (physical barrier) between the men’s and women’s sections. At this, but not all, partnership minyanim, the mechitza is also on the bimah, with the open Torah passed back and forth during the reading. I enjoyed the way that women joyously sang along and without hesitation or muted voices — unusual at even the most modern of Orthodox congregations — but I found the mechitza to be a big distraction.
These days, we’re hearing about more ultra-Orthodox men who are turning to increasingly hateful tactics to prevent women from praying as they wish on their side of the Western Wall’s mechitza. Recently, they hurled chairs over the divider, even before the women had a chance to begin their davening. Once the police were called, the chair-throwing stopped; two men were arrested.
But there are some things to follow up on:
Every time I read about the ongoing Women of the Wall saga, I am filled with sorrow. As I picture Jew fighting Jew, a woman being roughhoused by police, fingerprinted like a common criminal, my heart is heavy. Their fight is reminiscent of that of Rosa Parks. All these women want is the same treatment as men. How could one group be allowed to monopolize a national holy site?
These are the emotions that fill my heart. When I think about it, though, I ultimately disagree with what the Women of the Wall are trying to accomplish.