Page 3 Custom Mechitza
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Mechitza dividers are tradition in Orthodox synagogues, providing a separation between someone praying and many possible distractions. The Mechitza symbolically represents ones yearning to connect to G-d without any distractions standing in the way of our prayers. Coming to Shul is not the equivalent of going on a date with a spouse or friend. This is the foundation why every Orthodox community around the world maintains the practice of Davening with the use of a Mechitza (a partition between the men and women).
This project was a first for Artisans, design, construction, and implementation brought on several challenges to meet the client's requirements. When a Mechitza is broken down to its technical specifications, a Mechitza acts as a one way transparent divider. One side is to provide as much viewing area as possible with the best clarity. The other side provides a blank surface, obscuring the view through as best possible.
A Mechitza is not meant to make anyone feel uncomfortable; on the contrary the objective of separation is to allow an individual to release themselves as a true and singular person. Carrying this philosophy into a physical design, Artisans set out to create a warm comfortable feature of the Shul.
"In orthodox synagogues, a mechitza (divider) is used to separate men worshippers from women worshippers so that each will not be distracted from their prayers. The women's section of the synagogue is called ezrat nashim in Hebrew. It is believed that the custom of separating between sexes in the synagogue is derived from the Temple, which existed 3000 years ago. The sexes are generally not separated by a mechitza in Reform and Conservative synagogues."
The basic construction of this project is simple enough; they are mahogany frames and panels with lots of moldings. The actual one way viewing is created by an angled screening, black on one side while painted white on the other side. A light fixture in each section illuminates the white side, creating a glare and obscuring vision through the material, while allowing a clear view through the black side. The function is much like a one way mirror.
As congregations grow and encourage new membership, the Mechitza becomes an even greater integral part to prayer. Our research into the traditions and expectations surrounding the Mechitza will support our design work to integrate a functional, esthetic, yet traditional design.
The integration of bookshelves, prayer book railings, removable sections for weddings, acoustic panels, emergency exit doors, and other features are just a few ideas to integrate your Mechitza into the sanctuary.
Contact Artisans of the Valley to commission the design and installation of a new custom Mechitza for your congregation.