Writing a shull review is a new concept in reviewing, restaurants, hotels maybe nursing homes are perfectly normal but shull reviewing is completely out of the box. How should one rate a shull? Who the heck is going to listen to a shull reviewer anyway? I figured I would just have a little fun at first and talk about the shulls that are orthodox yet built so staring at girls over the mechitza without looking like an idiot is very feasible. Many shulls make the famous pastime of checking out what lies behind that wall of wood, glass, plastic, or plants nearly impossible, having men as well as women look at you like a sexual predator. Sometimes I see the occasional old dude staring at all lovely ladies who are probably his daughterís friends and licking his lips, thinking that maybe she will bring some of them home. If I can see through their pretend neck stretches or casual glances around the room from my vantage point to the side imagine how the ladies behind the mechitza feel when this guy along with many others stares oddly at them, as the proceedings at the bima go unheeded.
In this sort of review chasidishe shulls must be left out since none of them make it remotely possible to tell if there are any women at all attending the minyan. This is also true for conservative shulls that lack a mechitza since they make it 1005 conducive to look at or even sit next to and have a chat with girls in the middle of davening. Really I am talking about modern orthodox shulls which range in mechitza height and material. Here are just a few of the shulls I have been to that make it conducive to staring at the ladies. In no way is this list complete so keep checking back for new additions.
The most famous shull that makes it conducive to stare at the women without them really paying attention to your drool dripping onto your suit is Lincoln Square synagogue in Manhattan on 69th and Broadway. This shull is known most famously or infamously in the more frummy circles as Wink and Stare synagogue, due to its boxing auditorium like sanctuary and glass mechitza which while containing the halchic prescribed height for a divider between the men and women it is made of glass and therefore completely see-through. It can provide if the conditions are right a fun filled davening while making eyes at all the women right across the aisle. You can look straight ahead and look at the strapping young ladies across the bima while the baal koreh tries his best to keep you at attention though he knows no one is. The problem with Lincoln Square is that it is lacking in the young women minus the hair coverings department, meaning no young single hotties attend this famed institution. When I was a kid growing up on the Upper West Side this shull was the place to be, then in the late 1990s a population shift occurred and the ever famous dividing line of 96th street vanished and the singles started moving to the 90s and 100s, therefore Lincolm Square lost its reigning title as hottie central to the Jewish Center and Oheb Tzedek, both critically acclaimed for their singles scenes full of shallow, insecure, 30 somethingís that make more money then I can dream of and only come to shull to mingle. In my day Lincoln Square was full of young Ramaz high school attendees in their mini skirts who called the famous Lincoln Towers apartments their home. So while being conducive to staring at women, since the shull lacks them it creates huge problems for their ratings.
The first time I ever walked into the Jewish Center on 86th street I was in my twenties, funny because I grew up 3 blocks away, but the old man always thought they were snobs so he never attended. A friend of mine and I decided to go see what the fuss was about. We walked in during kedusha when everyone was standing; it looked as if the men and women were standing together. We asked the two guards who force you to sit wherever they tell you to if this was the right shull. I thought we have mistaken it for the conservative shull on the next block, but no we were right and as we sat down and saw that no they werenít sitting together, you just couldnít see the mechitza when they were standing- we knew we had found the right place. Also noticing that no one was wearing talesim and everyone was doing that whole flirting over the mechitza deal- we started catch up to where they were. Staring over the almost non-existence mechitza is very easy here and everyone comes to shull to look hot anyway, they also come with the notion in mind that itís the place to be seen- kind of like those Hollywood parties. This is a talker shull and with nowhere to daven in the back or something, it is conducive to one thing only well two things making eyes at the ladies and talking to your buddies. The shull lacks leg room and also lacks the space needed to adjust your balls discreetly while they sweat from sitting down for whole laining. Leg room is very important when one is trying to get the right angle in order to stare yet without ogling. Girls donít mind if you give them the look over once or twice, after all they didnít get up at 9:30 in the morning on Saturday and dress up for nothing, they do like to see fruits for their labors. So while the Jewish center is very conducive to looking at girls and they do have a good amount of them, the comfort level is quite low. It is a trade off and the decision is up to you, do you go to shull for comfort or to stare at girls?
The Carlebach Shull is quite the interesting situation, their mechitza is rock solid until you stand up, while seated you can see peoples shoes thatís about it. I would compare their mechitza to sitting in a public restroom and trying to imagine what the guy next you looks like based on his shoes and movements he makes during his wiping. Same to the mchitza situation at the Carlebach shull, all you see is the feet but when you stand up you can match those feet with a face and maybe some upper body check out. That is also the problem, unless the women are tall or sitting a good distance from the mechitza, you really cant tell how their love handles fair out. So many times have I stared at girls in Carlebach only to be disappointed at the Kiddush by what I couldnít check out due to the non-see through mechitza. The amount of women is fairly good but dry spells do occur and they mostly come on Friday nights which means that no Kiddush to further check out the ladies will be offered. If you get a seat the legroom and comfort are halfway decent depending on who sits next to you- its exactly like an international flight, your seating companion makes the world of differences. Furthermore the Carlebach shull is actually conducive to davening unlike the two other shulls mentioned so that may be taken into consideration. I will hopefully also be doing a review on shulls that are conducive to actually davening in shull.
The Mount Sinai Shull in Washington Heights is one of the only shulls that forces you to look at the girls, multitudes of fine young ones who are recent Stern graduates for that matter, behind the see through mechitza. The womenís and menís sections in the shull face each other almost making it impossible not to stare at those lovely young things. I must say that the Mount Sinai shull has a good chazaka on continually having multitudes of hotties to stare at, going fuither the Licha dodi look back as I call it allows you to get close views of the tuchises behind you as you bow to welcome the shabbos queen. The leg room here as well is not too shabby and you can usally get some shoulder room as well. My biggest complaint would be their heating system, their goal is to give you thiose annoying armpit sweat marks as you sit and feel like a sauna, shull is not a sauna, unless they market coed naked davening then I guess we can rock the whole shull sauna theory. Oh and they also have those full wall urinals of yesteryear in their bathroom, allowing one to pee everywhere and still get it in the actually toilet since the floor is tilted so it eventually drains into the urinal.
Comming soon shulls conducive for davening and talking.