Wednesday, August 18, 2010

About Respect

In the comments to my post "Losing It," Hadassa makes a point about respect:

"Judge Elayim Rubenstein had a great ruling for separate seating buses: on half of the buses the men sit in back and on half the women sit in back. He then added an important comment.
Paraphrase: Those who are very careful about certain commandments sometimes forget about the commandment to respect others."

At the kiddush we attended on Shabbat they had a strange custom, at least strange to my idea of normal.  On the men's side (of the mechitza, separation) there were long rows of tables for men with chairs and tables for children without chairs.  Children were reminded that they were not to sit.
On the women's side, there were round tables and no chairs at all.  Women were expected to stand, and only stand, whether old or pregnant or sick.

I was a guest, but that bothered me very much.  In Shiloh, a seated kiddush has chairs for both sexes.  And, yes, we've developed the custom (or it has evolved) to sit separately but without a mechitza


Leora said...

Oy. In our Sephardi shul, one is always supposed to sit while eating (unfortunately, we often run out of spots to sit, but that's another matter).

If I were pregnant, I would walk right out and sit on a stoop elsewhere. Sigh.

Hadassa said...

I would have sent my husband to bring chairs over to the women's side, and I would have asked someone to please quote the rabbi who said that one should always sit while eating; it's not just a Sephardi custom.
I suppose that synagogue wanted the women - to get lunch ready? - and children - noise problem? - out quickly. If lack of seating is a problem, their arrangement is a bad way of solving it. What would the Sages say about giving young men chairs while elderly women stood?
The judge's name is Elyakim, not Elyaim.

Batya said...

Leora, Hadassa, I was a guest, and there's a limit to how "critical" I could be. My pregnant daughter wouldn't have managed all the stairs. I don't know who set it up, since I was many, many stories upstairs. It looked professional. The kiddush was shared by three families. There were more varieties of cakes than you'd find in a bakery showcase.