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Ways to look over the mechitza w/o getting caught

It wasn’t until after high school that I found out the simple fact that the fine folks who occupy the women’s section know when you are staring at them, no matter how clever you may be, they have the usual vantage point of being behind you, like an enemy on the ridge machine gunning your soldiers down, they can tell when those eyes are taken off of the action up at the bimah and trained on them, however much strain you need to make your eyes do things in the peripheral department that they weren’t created to do. Based on my own experiences and of watching the pathetic ways of others I have come up with the different types of “moves” one uses to get a better look at the ladies without looking too desperate. One should note that most of these ideas are only for use in shuls that have a women’s section that makes it possible to look over. Shuls with little slots like those in mobster movies, impregnable cinder block walls with watch towers or the ever present “women sit in different room” type of women’s sections may need a whole different sort of strategy, as the women themselves cannot see you.

The Stretch:
Classic in my mind, and very common. The person wanting to look over at the ezras nushim will do a series of stretches all the while turning his head to look over and see what goodies lay in the forbidden section. Stretchers are everywhere, keep your eyes peeled.

Neck Crackers:
I never understood how folks could crack their necks and always found it kind of rude to do in shul, but then I realized that neck crackers usually sat in areas that were in sight of the mechitza and the casual rolling of the head to crack the neck offered great views of the women’s section, regardless of the fact that the women may appear to be sideways due to the angle of your neck cracking techniques.

Where’s the Clock?
I used to do this actually, but I had legitimate reasons, the clock was hanging after the downstairs women’s section just below the balcony. I feel that it was strategically placed there so that men could look at both women’s sections without feeling too bad. I always wear a watch of course, but no one knew this.

Sideways Chatting:
I am not condoning talking in shul, but by far the best way to look at the ladies is to chat with your friends in a sideways, arm on the back of the bench way. This allows you to stare most of the time without being noticed.

Tissue Grab:
In many shuls they like to make you awkward by putting the tissues in some obscure front of the shul locale, so in order to get these you must walk in front of the whole shul and back reminding me of the runway at Bryant Park. This of course has its perks, it does allow you to slowly walk back to your seat and scan the women’s section for potential hotties to approach during the shabbos mevurchim Kiddush.

Where’s my Mom/Sister:
If you happen to be on your home turf, this could be a great excuse, unfortunately for most people I know, home turf is located far away from the masses of ladies that are “worth mechitza breeching” time. Most people know all the girls in their home towns, so its not as exciting as uncharted territory or the local singles scene. Of course I have a theory that women, no matter what their looks or how long you have known them, take on a new look when stepping behind the glass and wood walls of mechitzas and suddenly become intriguing.

The Wall/Bimah Lean:
The folks who like to droop their arms over the side of the bimah or the guys who lean on the walls on the side of the shul have a distinct advantage over all of us middle of the room fellows. You see they aren’t as noticeable and can sometimes throw down the stares without being caught. Bimah guys should wear glasses as I can never see anything from up there, although the walk down from the bimah affords the best views, that’s as rare an anything because the only job I ever get is gelila.

Bimeh Madlikin Bathroom Break:
I used to bust out a bathroom break during bimeh madlikin, I still do if I am in a shul with loads of ladies. Many of you may wonder where in the world girls go to shul on Friday night. I will tell you that anywhere the singles roam, is where you will find the ladies in shul on Friday night. I do remember distinctly going to the Bayit in Toronto on a Friday night about 7 years ago and being shocked at how many girls there were, it was a sight to behold, although most of them were rather young, hey wait, I was young as well.

Playing with the kids:

If you want some good looks without looking to obvious, bust out your stares while playing with the little kids that parents bring to shul on Friday night in order that they scream in the middle of kabalas shabbos. The kids are always running all over the place, so while you give them high fives you can use your peripheral vision to gaze into the ezras nushim.

Licah Dodi Lookback:
The only part of davening, besides for birchas kohanim that tells us to stare at the women. Not only do you get a great view, you can time it so it appears as if you have more kavannah and are catching up and this will allow you to delay several seconds so that you are bowing and they are already turned around.

Space Out:
I think this is the strategy of the old men in shul. The ladies just think, “oh that cute old man has lost his mind and is spacing out” but in his mind he knows very well what he is doing. I have no clue why old men are allowed to look at the ladies and we cannot, I mean look at all the products to increase their sex drives and make them feel like 15 year olds again. So to bust out a stare, you have to have some balls. It may require a little drool and acting, but I can attest that it can definitely be done.

Just Looking Around:
This may be the most common of stares, usually conducted after shmona esray while wiating for the chorus of kedusha to be struck up. These people will just casually look around, but since they do not want to be so obvious they will look at men and women.

Did I miss any?

{ 26 comments… add one }
  • Sarah March 18, 2008, 10:09 AM

    At the shul I went to in Baltimore while growing up, the back entrance to the women’s section was by the bathrooms and water fountain. The younger guys used to take countless water breaks (which would naturally lead to trips to the bathroom), looking in the women’s section every time. As a teenager, us girls were the ones who had to “inconspicuosly” turn around to look and see who was walking by and looking at us.

  • sh March 18, 2008, 11:11 AM

    and also marching around behind the sefer torah wen it is being carried between the aron and the bimah…

  • sh March 18, 2008, 11:12 AM

    first line got cut out – the previous comment was supposed to be:

    you forgot hagbaha…
    and also marching around behind the sefer torah wen it is being carried between the aron and the bimah…

  • s(b.) March 18, 2008, 12:30 PM

    mm, nice flashback! I was at a wedding the other night. Scoping guys without being obvious isn’t exactly easy, either.

  • Yochanan March 18, 2008, 1:37 PM

    How about pretending to look for defects in the mechitza?

  • Headbanger March 18, 2008, 3:01 PM

    There’s always the looking for the sake of looking because you don’t happen to care what your shul mates think of you, especially if you don’t frequent shul that often. It’s funny how everyone plays all these games trying to fool themselves that they are in shul to daven when people will try any trick in the book to get out of it and molest the ezras nashim.

  • monseychick March 18, 2008, 3:33 PM

    i always love watching what new techniques guys come up with for looking into the ezrat nashim….

    the best is when you got a really shy dude who works up his courage to peek up/in….and then you wave at him and watch him go nuts….

  • heshman March 18, 2008, 3:35 PM

    Thats true Headbanger- and Yochanon seems like someone in prison trying to find a way to breech the gates.

    So SB the truth comes out, women also check out men.

  • dave March 18, 2008, 3:57 PM

    Lacha dodi is a solid call, mate!

  • Yochanan March 18, 2008, 6:52 PM

    What about those balcony mechitzot? You can adopt the Sefardi practice of having your palms face up during the Poteach Et Yadecha Umashbia of Ashrei and gaze heavenward.

  • s(b.) March 18, 2008, 7:19 PM

    of course women check out men. which reminds me, I should probably get some mirrored sunglasses. (then I can look like CHiPS. erik estrada will be my shadchan.)

    Maybe someone who goes to shul more often than I do can offer some helpful hints on how to be more subtle when checking out men. Might get me to start going to shul again, once it’s warm enough out to not wear stockings. lol

  • chanief March 18, 2008, 9:22 PM

    The only thing that ever got me to shul was when we had a hot Rabbi. Nothing like a hot Rabbi to pack the ladies’ section. And of course noone would ever question a woman paying close attention to the Rabbi’s speech.

  • utubefan March 19, 2008, 6:50 AM

    Another way to toy with a BT (sorry, in-laws) on Purim. When they come over with Mishloach Manos, walk them over to the dining room table and start taking a snack out of each opened Mishloach Manos on the table. Tell them there is a special Segulah for Klal Yisrael if we take from each person’s Mishloach Manos and mix it together to form a new one that we give to another person. It isn’t regifting, it is Achdus and the beauty of our nation!

  • heshman March 19, 2008, 8:23 AM

    Utube I think your in the wrong post- good one anyway.

    SB of course I know the ladies check the men out, but they have the advantage of usually being behind or above the men.

    Yochonon such brilliance man.

    Chanie- so how did his tush look as he walked up to the shtender to speak- was everyone sweating in the ladies section.

  • chanief March 19, 2008, 11:28 AM

    Unfortunately I never got a close enough view of the Rabbi’s tush in it’s besuited glory to give a full report but there was definite sweating in the ladies’ section – man can that Rabbi work a tallis! Now I am getting nostalgic for that shul… see what you’ve started?!?

  • Headbanger March 19, 2008, 3:59 PM

    Don’t worry, I’m sure he’ll be happy to accept your machatzis hashekel tomorrow.

  • RE March 19, 2008, 6:21 PM

    For the bold few: Stick your head into the other section and say they ran out of siddurim on your side. Bonus!: It usually leads to an ‘in’ at kiddush when you have to explain why you were so late that they ran out on the other side.

  • utubefan March 19, 2008, 7:10 PM

    Just lazy. Purim prep. Happy Purim, Monseyman!!!

  • heshman March 20, 2008, 7:39 AM

    RE- good idea, this is what I do at shalom zachors, when they run out of the good stuff. The women always sit around and chat and rarely eat the food- while the men get hammered and eat all the good stuff real quick. It allows me to get some good food and see if there is anything worth getting drunk to try and talk to.

  • Double M March 19, 2009, 11:50 PM

    Hess you said that they always seemed to notice fugitive glace at them…. Perhaps its because they are staring at the men?

    I never realized how hard you guys in the askanazi community have it! In the Sephardic synagogues (well the ones I have been to) have the 1) default areas looking forward in front of the bemah then 2) on flanking sides there are seats running parallel facing north and south… 3) finally there are ones in the back that connects at a 45% angle or so. So from every place but the first set you can easily see the women’s sections placed behind you on either side. Nothing untoward in paying attention to the shaliach tzibour… o and did you see that cute Sicilian I wonder if she will be downstairs for sudah afterwards?

  • Frum Satire March 19, 2009, 11:57 PM

    And sephardic women are way hotter as well

  • Michael Makovi January 16, 2010, 5:38 PM

    Why not just wear glasses with a mirror?

  • Michael Makovi January 16, 2010, 5:42 PM

    Oh, at Shearith Israel, looking at the women is SUPER easy. The bimah is raised several steps high, and so if you sit in the right row, the angle that your head has to be, in order to see the bimah, is only just slightly lower than the angle to see the women’s gallery. So you can stare at the women for three hours, and no one will know. See here.

  • Zvika March 23, 2010, 9:23 PM

    What about those guys who are always looking at a sefer during davenen…every once in a while they look up into space with a deep brooding look as if they were contemplating a complex tosfos. Perfect opportunity to get a good look over the mechitza…

  • The Other Mike April 9, 2013, 1:05 PM

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