Friday, July 31, 2009

His and Hers

As I have written before, I have no problem with separate seating in the synagogue in and of itself. I do have a problem with women’s sections that exclude rather than separate.

Today I found another one: at the synagogue at the Malha Mall in Jerusalem. Here are some photos.

The main (read: men’s) section of the synagogue, facing toward the rear:

Malha Mall Synagogue, main section

The women’s section—a separate room with its own entrance, with the wall facing the main synagogue replaced by a thick wooden lattice partially filled with what looked like opaque glass. Taken facing the rear:

The women's section

Taken facing the front:

Front of the women's section

The centerpiece of the synagogue, an Renaissance-era Ark imported from Mantua, Italy:

Ark at Malha Mall Synagogue

The Ark as seen from the women’s section:

View through the lattice

A view of the lattice from the men’s section:

View of the partition, Malha Mall Synagogue

A view of the lattice from the women’s section:

Peeking through the lattice

The entrance to the men’s section:

Entrance to the main synagogue

The entrance to the women’s section:

Entrance to the women's section

In my opinion—and I know that some people will disagree with me—the solution is not to do away with the mehitza. It is to make women’s sections an inviting, welcoming part of the synagogue.

Yet I suppose that we women should be grateful that there is a women’s section at all. As far as I know, the synagogue at the Jerusalem Central Bus Station still does not have one. (Follow-up post here.)

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