A mechitza most commonly means the physical divider placed between the men's and women's sections in Orthodox synagogues. The idea behind this is twofold. First, mingling of the sexes is generally frowned upon, as it may lead to promiscuity. Secondly, even if the sexes are separated, they should not be able to interact to a high degree during a religious service, lest this lead to gazing and impure thoughts. Due to these restrictions, mechitzot are usually opaque (at least looking from the men's side to the women's side). Some mechitzot divide the front and back of the synagogue, but others have mechitzot dividing the left and right sides of the synagogue. This is often seen as more equal since the women are not farther away from the service than the men.
A divider in the form of a balcony was established in the Temple in Jerusalem for the occasion of the Simchat Beit Hasho'evah (Water Drawing Ceremony) on Sukkot, a time of great celebration and festivity. The divider was first established to preserve modesty and attention during this time.
At Matanyah, we build custom installed and portable mehitzah panels for your synagogue. We work with each synagogue to find the right design for their particular needs and budget. In addition, we provide each of our clients with a detailed renderings of the mechitza before we produce it. Most of our designs include a base of wood to see over either sitting or standing heights and top semi-transparent or one-way vision material. We work intimately with unique wood or metal laser cut designs, transparent or stained glass, and one-way mirror.
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