Welwyn Garden Synagogue has installed a new mechitzah after a long period of wrangling. Its design satisfies the congregation’s women, is acceptable to the minister and meets local fire service requirements.
With opaque panels below and wrought-iron grilles above, the £5,000 screen fulfils the halachic necessity of a physical separation between men and women during prayer in the one-storey building.
It was designed by a congregant, with the guidance of minister Rabbi Hillel Gruber, and manufactured by craftsmen at a local forge.
Shul chair Reynold Rosenberg said: “Despite the fact that we are an Orthodox synagogue and need to have a halachically acceptable mechitzah, it has taken two years of negotiation to come up with a solution that would please those members who were reluctant to see any changes, as well as our womenfolk, who did not want to be ‘confined in a cage’, as they put it.
“We are delighted to have found a compromise,” Mr Rosenberg continued.
“Even some of the stalwart resisters have grudgingly said that the new mechitzah is ‘quite nice’.”