Friday, May 13, 2016

"Filming the action . . . "

I didn't want to link to this post on Yom HaAtzmaut (Israel Independence Day) itself because it seemed inappropriate to complain on such a happy day.  But I found it upsetting because, as the author stated, the women in that synagogue's women's section were filming the action.  What she didn't say was that they were filming rather than participating--the men were dancing while the women watched. 
I've been criticized before (and may catch heck again) for not being able to accept the idea that women can be genuinely moved or happy when they are spectators at religious observances in which they can never be participants.  The blogger really enjoyed "photographing the other women photographing the dancing"?  It never occurred to her that she might enjoy the occasion even more if she herself were dancing?
I was particularly struck by the short video at the end of this post, which showed that the woman shooting the video (a) had her view partially blocked by the railing and (b) could only get a good close-up by using the zoom function.  I can't imagine praying, on a regular basis, in a synagogue in which I was so far from the "action" that I wouldn't be able to see it except partially and "in miniature" on Shabbat or Shalosh Regalim, when the use of recording devices is forbidden.

Fortunately, this isn't the case in all Orthodox synagogues.  I have personally attended more than one Sukkot service in more than one Orthodox synagogue in which some of the women carried their own lulavim and etrogim and in which we made our own Hoshanot circuit with a Torah scroll within the women's section.  There's a lot to be said for having side-by-side men's and women's sections with the mechitzah (gender-separation partition) in between--it's darned near impossible to dance when you're in a balcony, due to lack of room and/or sloped or step-based construction.  And there's a lot to be said for a congregation (and its rabbinic leadership) that considers it a good thing for women to hold a Torah scroll.


Blogger Batya said...

I understand your feelings. Actually, there was dancing in the Women's Gallery, which I didn't bother trying to photograph since the shots from above are so much more aesthetically interesting. And there's another women's section downstairs which may have had dancing.
Personally, I find my spiritual life full enough, especially as I organize Women's Rosh Chodesh Prayers at Tel Shiloh. And I really don't want more responsibilities, and I'm not looking for honors nor egalitarianism.

Sun May 15, 12:44:00 AM 2016  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Batya, I'm happy to hear that there's another women's section downstairs. I hope the women there aren't stuck behind a "Berlin Wall" mechitzah--it's certainly preferable for everyone to be able to *see* the action, at least, even if there's a limit to how much they can participate in it.

I've heard the "I don't want more responsibilities" approach from Orthodox women in my office, and I can understand it. It just doesn't work for me, personally, as I'd rather have more responsibilities in order to be "eligible" for the "rights" that go with them.

You have my respect and admiration for organizing Women's Rosh Chodesh Prayers at Tel Shiloh. I think that's really cool.

Tue May 17, 01:38:00 PM 2016  

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