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?”