Jan 23, 2013

Mechitza at Kotel might be replaced with One-Way Glass

The rav of the Kotel, Rav Shmuel Rabinovitch, is looking into the possibility of replacing the current mechitza with a new one constructed of one-way glass. Obviously, the glass would be installed i a way that allows the women to see into the mens section, but prevents the men from looking into the womens section.

Women have approached both Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger and Rav haKotel Shmuel Rabinovitch and have asked for a solution, specifically suggesting one-way glass, as during events and family celebrations (such as bar mitzvahs) the women have very little ability to see the proceedings on the other side. The women have been able to peek between the cracks in the stones, or some always can be found standing on chairs and looking over the wall. Most women, though, cannot do that, and even that is an uncomfortable solution.

So they have requested the mechitza be changed, to make it better for them to participate and view their family simchas on the other side of the wall.

According to JDN, Rav Metzger is in favor of the idea of one-way glass and is pushing for its implementation. According to Kipa, Rav Rabinovitch was approached and he is investigating the possibility. This solution is already in place in the tunnel area of the Kotel, but the solution may not work as well outdoors because of the way the sunlight falls. the one-way glass may not be effective outdoors the way it is indoors, and if the men can see into the womens side this will not be the solution. Currently, testing one-way glass panels has shown to be a problem, and a solution, perhaps additional tinting or frosting of the glass, is still being sought.

The hetter of Rav Moshe Feinstein to use glass for a mechitza clearly will not be applied here. The first reason is for obvious ones - the ultra-Orthodox just won't accept it. Even in regular Orthodox shuls glass partitions are not common, so while that hetter of Rav Moshe might be usable in some situations, it is not commonly applied. The second reason is because the hetter of Rav Moshe is only for glass to be ok as long as there is no issue of tzniyus - the women on the other side of the mechitza are all dressed modestly and covered up properly. if the women are not, then Rav Moshe would not allow glass to be used as a mechitza. And we all know that at the kotel, women come dressed in all ways and fashions. they might wrap the "Kotel skirt" over their waists, but that does not necessarily solve the tzniyus issues.

Hopefully a solution to the one-way glass will soon be found and applied, so that the women can feel more involved and will be happier with their visits to the Kotel.

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  1. frustrated kotel visitorJanuary 23, 2013 8:23 PM

    Why not make the women's section larger? The men have a much larger outdoor space plus the large indoor space (and the indoor ladies section balcony is usually closed). Many times the ladies section is crowded all the way to the back, and the men's section outside is nearly empty. If the men need more space during specific tefilla times, then let them make it moveable to acommadate this. But most of the time, the women are overcrowded while the men each get a space at the wall.

  2. I remember a while back there was such a discussion to make a mobile mechitza. you and I both know it will never happen.

  3. In such a volatile area as the Kotel, breakable glass might pose a danger. And will the women be able to hear the bar mitzva boy through the glass?


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