Separation of Sexes

  • It is still preserved today in Religious day schools Catholic School, Muslim Schools and Jewish Day Schools the custom of separation of sexes, girls school and boys school.
  • On the question of separation of sexes there is the battle between old and new. Religions preserve the old way and the memory of the establishment of its religion by their prophet.
  • The Covington Kentucky Catholic High School a religious boys school was called racist. Today a religious school which follows the old customs like segregation of sexes is called bigoted.

It is still preserved today in Religious day schools Catholic School, Muslim Schools and Jewish Day Schools the custom of separation of sexes, girls school and boys school. Sometimes they may be in the same building but the classes are separate. Even in the secular world until thirty years ago there were also secular schools for boys only like Stuyvesant High School and Brooklyn Tech.

In secular separate sex schools the theory was that by separating the sexes the children would learn better.  Socializing between boys and girls would disturb the learning.  In religious schools there is a different reason which is for the sake of sexual purity.  Religions encourage their children not to have sex until marriage.

Today in Orthodox Synagogues there is separation between men and woman by a Mechizta fence.  The Mechizta may be a balcony where woman sit separately or in the same room where there are prayers. Conservative and Reformed Judaism have changed this custom and allow the men and woman to sit together in the prayer room. In Conservative Day Schools the children learn together.

Today there is a conflict at the Wailing Wall where woman want the rights to make their own congregation mixed with men together. The Ultra Orthodox preserve the old custom and fight against making these changes.

On the question of separation of sexes there is the battle between old and new.  Religions preserve the old way and the memory of the establishment of its religion by their prophet.  Judaism was founded at Mount Sinai after the Exodus of the Jewish people from persecution and slavery in Egypt.  Moses gave the Jewish people the Torah where is written the history of the establishment of the Nation of Israel and its laws. The Torah is a scroll where is written on parchment the five books of Moses called the Old Testament, the Jewish Bible.  Scribes throughout history have been careful to write these scrolls and not to change them.  There are specific laws in the Jewish religion about how to write a Torah scroll.  After the Torah scroll is written by a certified scribe, it is checked for errors by another scribe.  Today it is also checked by computers.  A Torah scroll which is found to have an error is forbidden to use.  Judaism the first of the three religions Christianity, Islam, and Judaism preserves the memory of the revelation of God on Mount Sinai.  The revelation of God on Mount Sinai was a new beginning for the world.  The establishment of the Nation of Israel in their land was the beginning of religions which followed it by other prophets.  Judaism according to law is not allowed to change. Not to change the law and customs is a command written in the Torah scroll. It is old and ages with each generation.  Old Wine is more valuable than new wine.  

Moses wrote the first of Torah scrolls. With the Torah scroll he also gave instructions to the Jewish people and their leader Joshua called the Oral Law.  Within these instructions is to separate men and woman in prayer.  In the Holy temple there was a special place set aside for woman called the Ezrat Nashim the woman courtyard.  In the Torah is inscribed that Moses addressed the woman separately like it says in Exodus 19: Moses went up to God and God called to him from the mountain, This you should instruct to the house of Jacob and relate to the children of Israel. The sages teach that the house of Jacob refers to the congregation of the woman;  the children of Israel the congregation of men.  Girls seminaries are often called Beit Yaacov which means the house of Jacob. Religion preserves these ancient traditions and the memory of the life of their prophets for Judaism Moses the giver of the Torah.

The Covington Kentucky Catholic High School a religious boys school was called racist.  Today a religious school which follows the old customs like segregation of sexes is called bigoted.  Religions preserve the memory of events in history which have brought faith to the world.  They do this through not changing their customs and through preserving the Holy Scripture the word of their prophet. It is a difficult job for religious leaders in each generation.  Moses instructed Joshua and the leaders of each generation to make a fence around the Torah to preserve the law and customs that they should always be remembered.

Muslim dress today is out of date.  Muslims are preserving the old customs of modesty which the world today have rejected.  Religious Jewish woman follow laws of modesty in dress.  In Judaism there are different levels of modest dress.  The Ultra-Orthodox wear head covers similar to Muslims.  The more modern are allowed to wear wigs to cover their hair.  In all cases the hair should be covered according to Jewish law.  In dress there are also different levels of modesty.  The most extreme woman who live mostly in Meah Shearim, Jerusalem cover their whole body and head with a black cape. The minimum dress regulation is that the legs above the knee should be covered.  The clothes should fit loosely and not show the woman’s figure. Shirts should cover close to the neck and sleeves should cover the elbow. Woman are allowed to wear fashionable clothing with different colors.  Men also have dress regulation.  Chassidim and Orthodox wear long jackets and sport jackets traditionally the color black. The Chassidic masters wear white on the Sabbath and coats with many colors. 

It is important to preserve the old customs like is done in Orthodox religions.  There is also a purpose in bringing into the world a new light.  Jews pray each day “a new light should shine on Zion.” A new light is coming into Judaism and into the world.  This is the light of the Messiah.  The new light is not coming to replace the old light but to add to the old light a new beginning.  In the last generation there was a famous Rabbi who would use music and song to arouse the Jewish people and the world to open up to the new light.  His name was Rabbi Shlomo Carlbach.  Rabbi Shlomo Carlbach was educated in the most Orthodox Chassidic home. He became interested in Lubavitch Chassidism and was the first of the messengers which the Lubavitcher Rebbe Rabbi Menachem Schneerson sent out to bring Jewish faith to students in the colleges.  Shlomo saw that the way of Lubavitch which required separation of sexes interfered with his work in bringing God to the world. Lubavitch maintains separation of sexes in all their activities.  Shlomo Carlbach of blessed memory could not continue to work for Lubavitch and started his own movement.  He is not only a Rabbi but also a singer.  With his songs he would also tell stories of righteous men and their miracles. He travelled the whole world on his mission to reveal the new Jewish light of God even to India. His songs and videos are published on You Tube. One of his famous songs is called Return.

(Above is the picture of Rabbi Shlomo Carlbach the Musical Rabbi.)

 

 

 

  

David Wexelman

Rabbi David Wexelman is the  author of five books on the topics of World Unity and Peace, and Progressive Jewish Spirituality.  He has two sites at:  www.progressivejewishspirituality.net and www.worldunitypeace.org
http://www.worldunitypeace.org

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