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Monday, July 04, 2011

 

Going too far?

I'm fed up with the increasingly ridiculous levels of frumkeit and separation that are becoming accepted as normal. Shmarya over at FailedMessiah picked up a Ha'aretz story about separate seating at Shabbos meals, which is already considered standard operating procedure among many chasidish and 'litvish' households.

But I want to tell you about a CD I saw in a chasidishe home over the weekend.

I wish I took a picture of the CD, and I may yet. But in the meantime, take my word for it.

It's a CD of 'Shmiras Halashon' -- that's guarding against forbidden speech -- lessons. It poses everyday scenarios with various tips and ideas about avoiding gossip. It intersperses these lessons with songs.

Sounds pretty good, right? Teaching kids to speak carefully and avoid 'lashon hara,' what could be bad, right? So here's the text that was printed on the CD label:

Spoken-word scripts recorded by girls aged 7-11.
Songs sung by boys' choir. (recorded separately)

Where to begin? Where to start? How many wrong things can you count in this small disclaimer on a CD?

1. Obviously, this CD is for girls only. It features girls' speaking voices. However, even girls can't be allowed to hear girls singing. Perhaps that's because a male may walk by inadvertently and hear a snippet of the CD, destroying his entire spiritual universe in one moment of aural weakness.

2. Because this may happen, we need to know the ages of the girls whose voices appear on the CD. At the time of the recording, they were 7-11. Well, that may be less of a problem than hearing the speaking voice of a girl older than age 12. Maybe the male's spiritual universe is only damaged, not destroyed. Then again, they were only that age when the CD was recorded. They may be older now! And *poof*, we've lost another precious Jewish soul to the depravity of the media.

3. The purveyors of the CD have to tell us that these two segments were recorded separately. G0d forbid we should think for a moment that boys and girls (under age 11) were in the same studio at the same time. If they were, or even if there were a shadow of a doubt, the entire CD would be discredited and would require immediate disposal, preferably by burning.

4. What can we conclude?

Does anybody else see how completely asinine, ridiculous, and insane this is? When will it stop?

I know when it will stop. When women and girls are silenced, always and forever. Let's get it over with already.

Comments:
The increasingly nonsensical gender segregation--no, not only that, but the treatment of women, specifically, such that they are to be neither seen nor heard--no, not just women, but female humans of any age--is one of the things that has contributed to driving me away.

I have no issues with treating men and women in distinctive ways. Not in principle. But what we are talking about in no way reflects the special, G-d-given qualities of femininity or masculinity. I can't even put into words what this is.

Treating women this way objectifies them just as surely as pornography does. It is still a way of saying that women exist primarily as sexual objects, which is not a healthy attitude even for the male people involved.

So now that this stupidity has extended to young girls in so many cases, I am even more concerned.

I was never bothered by the mechitza in principle. I even enjoyed it to some extent, for a variety of reasons. But these attitudes have made me so sick that my feelings about mechitza have been affected.

This was worsened when a new, more progressive synagogue opened in my town with a mechitza that is more than six feet tall and opaque and totally separate from the bima and the aron, as I would expect to find in a right-wing shul. Really great when one's son is called to the Torah as a bar mitzvah. Yet this more progressive place is so proud of its super-strict mechitza. That's the trend, in which the more "modern" or "liberal" shuls must forever copy what the right-wing does, because after all that is the "authentic" Judaism, right?

Speaking of off-putting mechitzas reminds me of this totally appalling phenomenon, of which you are probably already aware:

http://www.vosizneias.com/61928/2010/08/10/new-york-city-division-of-chesed-of-new-square-erects-new-mechitza-in-mount-sinai-medical-center/

This is my favorite part of the article:

". . .this new mechitza will allow everyone to feel welcome and comfortable within the shul so that all mispallelim can join together and collectively daven"
 
The increasingly nonsensical gender segregation--no, not only that, but the treatment of women, specifically, such that they are to be neither seen nor heard--no, not just women, but female humans of any age--is one of the things that has contributed to driving me away.

I have no issues with treating men and women in distinctive ways. Not in principle. But what we are talking about in no way reflects the special, G-d-given qualities of femininity or masculinity. I can't even put into words what this is.

Treating women this way objectifies them just as surely as pornography does. It is still a way of saying that women exist primarily as sexual objects, which is not a healthy attitude even for the male people involved.

So now that this stupidity has extended to young girls in so many cases, I am even more concerned.

I was never bothered by the mechitza in principle. I even enjoyed it to some extent, for a variety of reasons. But these attitudes have made me so sick that my feelings about mechitza have been affected.

This was worsened when a new, more progressive synagogue opened in my town with a mechitza that is more than six feet tall and opaque and totally separate from the bima and the aron, as I would expect to find in a right-wing shul. Really great when one's son is called to the Torah as a bar mitzvah. Yet this more progressive place is so proud of its super-strict mechitza. That's the trend, in which the more "modern" or "liberal" shuls must forever copy what the right-wing does, because after all that is the "authentic" Judaism, right?

Speaking of off-putting mechitzas reminds me of this totally appalling phenomenon, of which you are probably already aware:

http://www.vosizneias.com/61928/2010/08/10/new-york-city-division-of-chesed-of-new-square-erects-new-mechitza-in-mount-sinai-medical-center/

This is my favorite part of the article:

". . .this new mechitza will allow everyone to feel welcome and comfortable within the shul so that all mispallelim can join together and collectively daven"
 
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