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Testimonials on the Mechitza

"I find it kind of like a girl's club: where all the girls get together and daven together. I've never felt excluded or second class..."

-Mimi Premo, Female, Conservative

"I find mechitzas offensive, disturbing, archaic, patriarchic and heteronormative."

-Rachel Greenspan, Female, Conservative

"Since I grew up in an Orthodox home, I am comfortable and used to mechitzas. However, I believe that mechitzas should be split down the middle to create equality for both the men and women side of the mechitza."

-Anonymous, Female, Orthodox

"I think an Orthodoxy without a mechitza would be cool, but it also wouldn't be Orthodoxy..."

-Anonymous, Male, Orthodox

"I believe mechitzot are antiquated and do not represent the true values of Judaism...a mechitza divides people who have spent centuries fighting to stay together and strengthen their communities in the face of adversity and oppression."

-Kerren, Female, Secular

"I personally didn't see a need for it until I got to college, where every time the curtain got pulled back there were people immediately flirting and checking over the mechitzah..."

-Anonymous, Female, Orthodox

"I do not mind the mechitza in prayer spaces that use them...I tend to move to the women's side because I am pretty darn femme. However, while I do not mind the mechitza, I do not always feel comfortable praying in spaces that use them..."

-Rebecca Anolick, Queer, Reform

"I understand it but I just personally feel very unwelcome as a queer person."

-Anonymous, AFAB struggling with gender, Reform

"Not into it. Separate is not equal."

-Diana F. Gomberg, Female, Reconstructionist

"..I will admit sometimes it's hard to follow what the men are doing without being able to see them, but this leads me to ask a fellow woman beside me who knows what is occurring..."

-Mariella, Female, Orthodox

"I like having separate space from men or from anyone generally to daven. But I hate when its used as a way to remove myself from the service or what is happening."

-Anonymous, Female, Observant

"...I think as long as both sections are reached equally and it’s not women on the periphery while the men pray its okay..."

-Haley, Female, Conservative

"I do not know nearly enough about it but in general, I believe faith to be an individual act so I find the separation of groups of people based on gender to be useless and misogynistic."

-Anonymous, Male, Secular

"I think it is based on a flawed idea about how people can pray and concentrate. The Torah has very few rules about women and praying...I see many mechitzas as separate and unequal..."

-Anonymous, Female, Conservative

"...There’s beauty in tradition and depending on the style of the mechitza, there is also an ability to just focus on the prayers of your heart but there is also beauty in being a joint voice without the mechitza."

-Anonymous, Female, Israeli Secular

"...it is undeniable (in the average community where the majority of people are heterosexual) that people act differently when in the presence of a person of the opposite gender. It is absolutely true that people need to be acclimated to gender-diverse situations and—let’s say it straight—men need to be able to be in the presence of women without getting aroused, but prayer while standing before God is not the time for such social-intersexual experiments..."

-Anonymous, Male, Orthodox

"...Growing up, sitting next to my father during services was one of the most comforting things in my life. The issue of sexual attraction should not be one that is focused on during prayer. One should be focused on prayer not finding a partner."

-Alli Penfil, Female, Conservative

"I understand the reasoning behind it but I am overall neutral."

-Hannah, Female, Conservative

"It’s just segregation, I have found going to synagogues without a mechitza more inviting and friendly. In my synagogue at home there is one and I don’t like going anymore as they aren’t accepting of people. Also it makes it okay to think that women are lesser spiritually than men but we aren’t."

-Georgia, Female, United (Conservadox)

"...I've always hated them due to the fact that they seemed to me to serve more as a deterrent to women...As a queer person I can't bring myself to support their use. There are too many people hurt by heteronormativity and the gender binary."

-Naomi B., Female, Conservative

"I really appreciate the mechitza as a community-building tool- I think there's more communal connection when you can't sit with your partner...On the other hand, it is such a distraction...when the service leading/Torah reading is happening on the other side of the mechitza."

-Maya, Female, Traditional Egalitarian

"I love it! Never has bothered me and one shouldn't stray from tradition just because it makes you uncomfortable..."

-Anonymous, Female, Just Jewish

"It’s pretty sexist and horrible. Just puts women down further by saying they aren’t worthy to even davin with men."

-Brooke, Female, Conservative

"...My dad is a person who really helped me in shaping my Jewish identity. I can’t imagine a shul where I couldn’t sit next to my dad and pray...Also gender is a social construct anyway so it doesn’t make sense to me why we can’t all just pray together. We’re all people and we are all just skin and bones. Nothing but Jewish bodies here trying to repair the world!"

-Mariah, Female, Reform

"...One of the most important people in my Jewish experience is my father, who I am not able to sit and pray with in a synagogue with a mechitza. Not having him by my side makes a prayer experience much less meaningful for me..."

-Anonymous, Female, Reform

"I think the mechitza creates a really unique community: men and women have their own small communities within the larger davening community. It took a while for me to get used to a mechitza, but I really have grown to like it."

-Samantha, Female, Conservative (Raised Reform)

"As a woman, I often feel most empowered when praying around other women. I feel my conversation with the Divine more fully when not interrupted by "the gaze", consumption of my physical body & being, or masculine energies...if the mechitza in any way blocks my ability to witness a service, touch the torah, or hear the other half of the community, then it can become a tool of exclusion..."

-Anonymous, Female, Fluid

"I understand that some sects of Judaism require mechitzahs but I don’t feel that praying with the opposite sex is bad"

-Anonymous, Female, Conservative

"I don’t mind the mechitza. I belong to an orthodox shul but went to a conservative day school my whole life so I am used to the mechitza. I don’t think It puts women as a lower status as men (even if that is its purpose)."

-Anonymous, Female, Conservative

"...My interpretation, as a cantorial student at HUC-JIR, is that the mechitza was created to make Jewish men more comfortable with female identifying bodies in the shul. Similar to the idea of dressing modestly, I believe that the root of the idea comes from female bodies being "distracting" to the male gaze..."

-Emily Hoolihan, Female, Reform

"...If the sight of women causes a man to be unable pray, then there needs to be another solution. It also does not take into account the homosexual populations as well as the other gender preferences of Jews who practice."

-Julia, Female, Conservative

"I don’t like it, but I tolerate on occasion for prayer options that promise to be uplifting. Typically I would only make this exception for a “partnership minyan"..."

-Haley, Female, Traditional Egalitarian

"While I find it problematic in the way that the mechitza visibly supports and enforces the gender binary...I do see beauty in a women's only or men's only prayer space. Although I was originally off-put by the idea of a mechitza, I now feel more comfortable when there is a mechitza....I am more troubled in spaces where women are silenced than simply separate from men."

-Anonymous, Female

"As long as the women can see the aron and bima so that they can feel connected to the prayer service, I don’t mind where the mechitza is placed (middle, back, balcony, etc)."

-Anonymous, Female, Orthodox

"For me, the Mechitza creates a separation which allows me to focus my devotion towards the Almighty...Someone once remarked that we should be thinking vertically, not horizontally when we pray, I feel that this is a useful aid in my prayer."

-Anonymous, Male, Orthodox

"...Men and women should be able to be together in prayer so that families will be able to pray for the same things as well as learn from each other. How can a family pray together if they are not together?..."

-Anonymous, Female, Secular