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Shull Reviews: How conducive is your shull for staring over the Mechitza?

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.


{ 51 comments… add one }
  • January 21, 2007, 10:04 AM

    Your blog is so funny, but true.

    My shul just got a new Aron Kodesh, bookshelves, and of course mechitza. I don’t like the mechitza at all because it FEELS like a wall, looks like a wall. It’s in multiple parts, solid but nicely finished wood, and tall. In the center of the top half there are large circles with a crappy plastic that looks like one of those windows apartments put in bathrooms so that there is some privacy.

    My rebbetzin said they are changing the crappy plastic windows, which by the way make you feel you’re on a ship because they are large and round. Supposedly the new glass will be one way windows; women can see through to the men but the men’s side is just a one way mirror. I dig it. Then again, I’m not frum, I just love my rabbi and congregation; the rabbi being Chabad.


  • January 21, 2007, 10:47 AM

    Tamara, after having read what he wrote, it’s hard not to see the advantage of a wall :-). Of course a one way glass mechitzah is acceptable too in that respect, although it may be problematic to have a wall full of mirrors in a shul.

    note to author: look up “strapping” in the dictionary. it means “Having a sturdy muscular physique; robust.” Is that really the word you wanted to use to describe the young ladies at LS?

    Oh, and also, once again, GET A GIRLFRIEND.

  • January 21, 2007, 11:25 AM

    Hey shmendrik what makes you think I dont hve a girlfriend? Well I dont, but thats because I am too out of the box as the shadchuns refer to me as. You go try to find yourself some girl who thinks of going out on a saturday night as riding their bike or hiking, and one who wears all the same clothing for the last ten years- then get back to me. I definately meant to use the word strapping btw- it just flows- even though it makes no sense like most of my spelling, grammer, and sentance structure. I never professed to be smart, or a good writer, I just profess to be a “frum community sociologist” and a nutjob.

  • January 21, 2007, 11:27 AM

    Having davened (and lained) in a wide variety of shuls (Orthodox and Conservative) the mechitza situation has aways bemused me. I have seen many people daven with kavana at Conservative congregations, virtually surrounded by hotties. The decorum and level of respect for the service were of a high level. (I have also been in non-Orthodox places where this was less in evidence.) I have seldom davened in an Orthodox establishment where, separated from the women, the men did not act like boors, talk constantly, conspicuously retire to the Kiddush club, and scope out babes.

    However, matching this post with the hilarous Chasidish Porn posting from PlayChossid it almost confirms a long-held belief: the more frum you are the less self-control you have over your yeitzer harah. Put a yeshiva bocher in the midst of females (even, or maybe especially, forbidden ones) and he just can’t keep it in his pants.

    Like I mentioned in a previous comment, perhaps those who go non-Orthodox shuls do not consider themselves frum enough to behave in that manner. I know I don’t. Maybe that’s why non-Orthodox shuls don’t have mechitzot. They are not necessary.

  • January 21, 2007, 11:28 AM

    Yeh strapping just soundd cool and I felt smart for using it, and it flows and probably no one else will go look it up. Now your telling me to get a girlfriend , whos the one reading blogs and looking up the words- yeh buddy YOU.
    So anyway finding girlfriends is not my hobby, I have decided to leave that up to the Lord and focus on riding my bike, making fun of frummies and driving like mad around the country.

  • January 21, 2007, 11:30 AM

    Like I mentioned in a previous comment, perhaps those who go non-Orthodox shuls do not consider themselves frum enough to behave in that manner. I know I donít. Maybe thatís why non-Orthodox shuls donít have mechitzot. They are not necessary.

    Very thoughtfull and interesting and I will definately use this line for future rants if you dont mind.

    It is interesting because I find the most conducive shulls for davening and concentrating are the ones with no women at all- but then why the hell would anyone go to shull eh.

  • January 21, 2007, 11:32 AM

    Dude who the heck looks up words they read in a blog in the dictionary. Lay off the author- I think its you who needs the girl friend

  • January 21, 2007, 11:39 AM

    Like I mentioned in a previous comment, perhaps those who go non-Orthodox shuls do not consider themselves frum enough to behave in that manner. I know I donít. Maybe thatís why non-Orthodox shuls donít have mechitzot. They are not necessary.

    So flippin true- yet your blanket statement regarding orthodox Jews is uncalled for. Not even a majority of orthodox shulls contain tons of talking or ogling. It is the select few mostly centered around the NY tri-state area that have this issue. In other parts of the country this is not the case. Maybe because in smaller communities the people actually know each other and therefore dont need to make small talk to catch up on the weekly gossip.

    In larger communities Jews go their seperate ways during the week and reuite on the weekends causing them to feel the need to catch up and what a better time then during davening- for the girl part- everyone including conservatives and reform Jews stare at ladies- the dfference between us and you is that by you its sanctioned by the lack of mechitza, mixed dancing and outfits that belong in porn videos. One need not look farther then the Jewish week to see what the conservative movement stands for, as it slowly screws itself from the inside out with ordajning gay rabbis, accepting non Jewish children into their schools and next they will probably ordain non-Jewish Rabbis as well.

    So while orthodox Jews talk in shull and stare at the ladies, your children intermarry and think that revisioning the torah to suite a politically correct modern day agenda is the only way to attract new members and keep the old ones from going to the left or right. The conservative movement is like George Bush and his trying to be centrist yet failing miserabley at the same time. You cannot please everyone and yet you are trying to please people by ruining the Torah at the same time- hypocritical dont you think?

  • January 21, 2007, 11:48 AM

    You people are all way too serious. Tamara is the only one with a sense of humor. Cant we all just get along. Girls rock and looking at them over the mechitza rocks so what boohoo. Frum Satire also rocks- thank you for the great site and trust me I wont take anything you say too seriously.

  • January 21, 2007, 12:17 PM

    With respect, Bracha, I’m not from NYC or even the USA. The situation is pretty similar wherever you may go.

    I’m also not a “Conservative” having moved away from that group many years ago. However, in my quest to move up a madrega (or several) I find little worthy of respect in the Orthodox community so I can only call myself “unaffiliated”. This does not mean unobservant.

    When I go to almost any Orthodox shul, see what’s going on, take in the behaviour and then get the added the privilege of having them consider me a lower form of life I wonder why I should want to be one of them.

    I should pause to define some terms. An “Orthodox” shul is one where the membership claims to be Shomrei Mitzvot. There are also Orthodox-style shuls where there is a (tacit) acknowledgement that some or many of the members are not Shomrei Mitzvot, but just like to daven there. Those in the latter group are quite welcoming and a pleasure to daven in. They promote achdut. Those in the former group, anything but. It seems to me like they don’t want someone like me there.

    The Orthodox are supposed to provide the examples to “unaffilliated” people like me that it should be my goal to be like them. But they set such horrible examples in their behaviour that they make the alternatives (e.g. Conservative or Reform) look worthwhile. I have no intention of going Conservative or Reform because I do believe in observance. I also believe in the importance of respect and that is where I probably part company with Orthodoxy.

  • January 21, 2007, 2:29 PM

    Goon I could not agree with you more. The orthodox community will soon learn with the explosion of annonymous orthodox Bloggers that its banning of pretty much eveything with regard to tznius and anything remotely sexual will bite them in the ass- if it hasnt already.

    I must say that I have noticed the only shulls that people go to and daven 100% of the time without interuptions tend to be yeshivish shulls, notchasidish, not modern but just regular old yeshiva guy shulls- the other shulls that are very conducive for davening are as the orthodox likes to term them “spiritual shulls” you put the term orthodox style- I like that but it is misleading. Since they are orthodox- they just arent so right wing- they are not like kosher style eateries- since those are usualy not kosher- while orthodox style shulls most likely are orthodox. Such as Chabad shulls- and carlebach type ones as well.

  • January 21, 2007, 2:33 PM

    Hey steve, you suck. I looked up the word because I knew that he had used it incorrectly (his English is about as good as Dov Ber’s) but I just wanted to check what the exact definition is.

    Not sure where you live goon, but I have davened in plenty of Orthodox shuls where the level of decorum was much greater than “men did not act like boors, talk constantly, conspicuously retire to the Kiddush club, and scope out babes.” Unfortunately, I have also davened in places where some or all of those things took place. It just depends where you go.

  • January 21, 2007, 3:35 PM

    Hey shmendrick, I never professed to be an english master. I happen to be just some kid who has good ideas and the balls to put them out there in a pretty non-annonymous way- meaning if you wanted to you can figure out who I am. While I dont think I need a girlfriend I do apprecaite your editing input and will try to write better.

    I have never written anything for pure pleasure until June 25th of this past year so I am no expert, but unlike Dov Bear I do not have a professional site not ads- so really I am just some 25 year old shmuck who likes to rant and rave about random crap that folks find funny.

  • January 21, 2007, 5:10 PM


  • January 21, 2007, 5:11 PM

    listen to me!! A mechitza most commonly means the physical divider placed between the men’s and women’s sections in Orthodox synagogues and at religious celebrations. The idea behind this is twofold. First, mingling of the genders is generally frowned upon, as this leads to frivolity, which itself may lead to promiscuity. Secondly, even if the sexes are separated, they shouldn’t be able to interact to a high degree during a religious service, lest this lead to gazing and impure thoughts. Because of these restrictions, mechitzot are usually opaque (at least looking from the men’s side to the women’s side).

    The women’s section of the synagogue is called the Ezrat Nashim (women’s courtyard) after a similar area in the Temple in Jerusalem.

    Orthodox Judaism is divided on whether a synagogue mechitza represents binding law or a custom. During the middle portion of the 20th Century, there were a substantial number of synagogues which considered themselves Orthodox but did not have one. The influential Haredi Posek (decisor) Moshe Feinstein held that a mechitza is required as a matter of Biblical law, holding that the statement in Zechariah 12:12-14 represents not a prophecy about future circumstances but binding Sinaitic law, Halacha l’Moshe m’Sinai, regarding present circumstances. He declared that Orthodox Jews are prohibited from praying in a synagogue without one. This view has gained adherence over the later portion of the 20th century. The Orthodox Union (OU), the main body of Modern Orthodox synagogues in the United States, adopted a policy of not accepting synagogues without mechitzot as new members, and to strongly encourage existing synagogues to adopt them. In 2002, Rabbi Avi Weiss of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah, generally considered the most liberal Orthodox seminary in the United States, stated that “As an Orthodox institution, Yeshivat Chovevei Torah requires its students to daven in synagogues with mechitzot.” The Jewish Ledger reported that as of 2005, “Beth Midrash Hagadol-Beth Joseph remains the only synagogue in the country affiliated with the Orthodox Union (OU) to have so-called ‘mixed seating.'” [1] Mixed-seating Orthodox synagogues, which were a prevalent minority as late as a generation ago, have now all but disappeared. See Conservadox Judaism.

    Men and women are generally not separated in most Conservative synagogues, although it is a permissable option within Conservative Judaism and some Conservative synagogues, particularly in Canada, have one or have separate seating for men and women without a physical particiton. Conservative Judaism takes the position that the Mechitza referred to in Talmud Tractate Sukkah applied only to the festival of Sukkah in the Temple and that its use to separate men and women for synagogue worship and other occasions represents a custom rather than a requirement of core Jewish law, and is subject to contemporary Rabbinic re-examination. Some Masorti synagogues (e.g. in Europe and Israel) also have a mechitza or separate seating sections for men and women without a physical partition. At one point the synagogue in the Jewish Theological Seminary did so.

    Reform and Reconstructionist Judaism, consistent with their view that traditional religious law does not apply to modern times, do not have them. Abolition of the mechitza, and the introduction of family pews similar to those used in protestant churches, was one of the first changes Reform Judaism made in its early years in the 19th century.

    It has been argued that abolition of the Mechitza became a symbol of Reform and that, correspondingly, opposition to its abolition became a symbol of Orthodoxy.

  • January 21, 2007, 5:13 PM

    as far as all the height astuff goes, There are different views on the proper height of a mechitzah separating men and women in a synagogue. Differences about minimum mechitzah height represent a source of disagreement between more liberal or Modern and more Haredi Orthodox Jews. According to the Shulchan Aruch HaRav, used by Haredi Judaism, a mechitzah needs to prevent men from seeing a woman who might be immodestly dressed, and hence a mechitza needs to be as tall as a man, or 6 feet. [2] However, according to Modern Orthodox Rabbi Aaron Soloveichik, a mechitzah need only serve as a halakhic partition, and hence need only be the minimum height for such a partition. Rabbi Solovechik holds that this height is 10 tefachim, about 30-40 inches, and a 36 inch height is acceptable. [3]

    These differences reflect a general philosophical difference between Haredi Judaism, which emphasizes strict interpretations in order to prevent possible transgressions, and Modern Orthodox Judaism, which is more likely to utilize leniencies rooted in classical rabbinic sources. The difference has tended to increase the social distance between Haredi and Modern Orthodox Jews, as Haredi Jews who follow the stricter interpretation may find themselves unable to pray in some Modern Orthodox synagogues. As a result, and consistent with the general increasing influence of Haredi interpretations, many synagogues in recent years have raised the height of their mechitzot in order to accommodate members and guests who follow stricter interpretations.

  • January 22, 2007, 3:48 PM

    i thought that was why we go to shul still? isnt peeking over the mechitza an incentive to get us to go to davending. seriously, why else would we go, to actually davend ūüôā ?

  • March 13, 2007, 6:02 PM

    Sometimes I daaven at the boys yeshiva because the Rabbis’ wives and daughters are pretty cool there, and the mechitza is darn good for checking out all the boys. It’s a one way mirror from a balcony, so we can check the guys out as much as we want and they can’t see what we’re doing. I always tell myself that I am going to focus on daavening whenever I go there but I always end up checkingthe guys out. The other shul I daaven at has a pretty awesome mechitza too. The men and women are essentially in the same room, just two different legs of it and there’s a small 5’10” mechitza dividing us made out of gauzey fabric that has slits in it so you can look at the men in the front row, and if you’re tall like me, when you stand up you can look back to the third row. It’s just too bad that all the bar mitzvah boys and grandpas sit in those rows.

  • Leeba February 28, 2009, 9:12 AM

    Australia checking in…

    There is one Shul in a town in NSW called Newcastle. It is the Newcastle Hebrew Congregation. The mechitza is guaze hung on some sort of wire and is about chest high on me – I am 5’2″ tall. When the congregation and stands during l’dodi I hear the men get a very good look at the REAR of the shul.

    Unfortunately for me, the men are between 65 and 85 years old and either married or ew.

    Yeshiva Shul on Flood Street – the mechitza is wood on the bottom, perhaps to my thighs. Then glass. Two way. We get to watch the men and they daven all over the place… Funny, but I never knew they looked at us – they all look so pious. I should tell my Rabbi that I will be going there from now on and tell his wife the real reason. He’ll never figure it out but she will tell me just where to sit.


  • Deborah Shaya February 7, 2010, 2:15 PM

    The women are much more holy than the men.

    It should therefore be the WOMEN who start putting up the mechitza, and dividing the space in the synagogue – for the men.

    The women have been stupid enough to accept the:
    black opaque glass;
    single windows covered by a thick opaque curtain;
    duvets; and

    that the men (‘dayanim’ &’rabbis’) have put up in the synagogues to screen them off.

    Remember the thick curtains that are actually nailed to the glass, just in case a woman may wish to view a Sefer Torah.

    This is a complete insult to the women – and an insult to Hashem, and the Shechinah.

    It is time this was corrected – by the women.

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