Rabbi Wohlberg on Mechitza’s

The Wall Street Journal had a great article yesterday on Mechitza’s, the partition that separates men and women in shul.  I particularly enjoyed Rabbi Wohlberg’s take on the issue:

 Beth Tfiloh in Baltimore went in the other direction. Years back, when it relocated to the suburbs from downtown, the congregation decided on separate seating but no partition. The concern was that a divider might alienate young families lured by synagogues where everyone sat together. But the tide has turned, says Rabbi Mitchell Wohlberg, and a new, more observant, generation would have left if it were not for the partition. At the same time, he adds, congregants “didn’t want to see women move to the back of the bus.” The solution? A “tasteful” mehitzah made of glass, wood and brass.

Rabbi Wohlberg is impatient with complainers. “Many of the people who say they want to sit with their husbands and wives at services, they don’t play golf together, they don’t have weeknights together,” he remarks. “All of a sudden, they can’t live without each other when they come to service?”

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15 Responses to “Rabbi Wohlberg on Mechitza’s”

  1. Annon Says:

    Too bad the BT mechitza looks like a joke! Know haw many ppl kiss over the mechitza?! ALOT

  2. Greg Says:

    Too bad for you that it’s a kosher mechitzah; being able to kiss over it has nothing to do with it’s validity.

  3. AlanLaz Says:

    I’m not sure I’ve ever seen it, but do we know for sure that it’s kosher? I think the most lenient opinion is R’ Moshe at 60 inches. Is it 5 feet tall?

  4. aishel Says:

    Alan, here’s a description of the Mechitza, from a Baltimore Sun article 4 years ago:
    http://www.hashkafah.com/index.php?showtopic=1764

  5. Greg Says:

    10 tefachim, which is between 30 and 40 inches (in other words between 2.5 and 3.5 feet).

  6. AlanLaz Says:

    Greg – who’s opinion is that?

  7. nyfunnyman Says:

    10 tefachim- e/o holds that.

  8. FWIW Says:

    FYI – the description in that article is no longer correct. I believe that design was deemed a fire hazard. The new mechitza is indeed kosher. You can view pictures of it on BT’s website http://www.bethtfiloh.com – then click on myBT login. It should be the first news story.

  9. Greg Says:

    אמר ר’ חייא בר אשי אמר רב שיעורין חציצין ומחיצין הלכה למשה מסיני

    Sukkah 5B.

  10. cpa Says:

    Interesting read.

  11. aishel Says:

    Thank you FWIW! I kept going to bethtfiloh.ORG instead of .COM.

    The link to the BT page about the mechitza is here:
    http://www.bethtfiloh.com/podium/default.aspx?t=204

  12. Ozymandias Says:

    If you can’t daven without a mechitza there is a problem.

  13. BasMelech Says:

    Kissing in shul is halachically forbidden, regardless of the mechitza height.

  14. Greg Says:

    BasMelech: I believe that is only for parents to their children.

  15. OC Says:

    Greg: the Rema specifically states that the reason you shouldn’t kiss your children in shul is to demonstrate that there is no greater love than that of Hashem. How does it matter if you are kissing your child or spouse or whoever?


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