Rosh Hoshannah starts tonight, and E and I will be celebrating it in our home. Tomorrow, we’ll be going to services at the Jewish Center at Georgetown. Much discussion went into where we’d be going for these services. In years past, E has gone to a more conservative congregation, one that has a mehitzah. This year is the first year I am attending services with her and she worried that while the service itself is likely to be confusing, it’d be even worse if I was all alone through it. So, we’re off to the more reform synagogue, if it is awful and E can’t stand it, we’ll be back to the more traditional service for Yum Kippur.
The mehitzah thing is one of the many, many issues I imagine we’ll have as we go through this process. While I have a lot to learn about Judaism, I am uncomfortable with the idea that men and women can’t pray together. The idea that the separation of the sexes will lead to less distraction seems to both deny the existence of homosexual desire and the fact that the separation may make the mystery of the opposite sex even stronger.
On the other hand, I am a big believer in tradition and seriousness in religious practice and am frankly not all that interested in hippie dippy reform stuff. I am hesitant about all water down versions of faiths. If the mehitzah is part of the service, who am I as a new comer, and, as of now, a goy to disparage it? Then again, can’t we find a balance? Can’t we have both tradition and equality? Is there some way to be egalitarian and not also have acoustic guitars? These are the questions that E and I talk about as we wrestle with what our place is going to be in the spectrum of Jewish observance.