ISRAEL: Rabbonim Prohibit Separate Seating Event

(Thursday, November 8th, 2012)

An assembly took place on Wednesday in Jerusalem’s Ramada Hotel marking the start of the academic year for the students of Machon Lev (males) and Machon Tal (females) in a separate seating environment. There was a designated area for couples to sit together, Srugim reports.

Rabbonim addressed the opening event, headed by Rabbi Aryeh Stern, the dati leumi candidate for Jerusalem’s chief ashkenazi rabbi, followed by entertainment.

A number of days ahead of the event, Rabbis Eren Tamir, Yaakov Shimon and Chaggai London of Machon Tal released a p’sak prohibiting students from taking part in the students’ association event. The rabbonim explained they were asked if the event is the Ramada is permissible, and they ruled it is not since it is attended by men and women.

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The matter was brought to Rabbi Yaakov Ariel, who was understood to permit the event but he explained that he was not going to interfere with the policy of the rabbonim of the machon, calling the event an internal matter.

The rabbonim further explain that Machon Tal, also known as the Women’s Institute of Engineering in Jerusalem was established to permit young women to obtain a higher secular education in a Torah atmosphere and attending a mixed social event was contrary to the hashkafa of the college. They add that a Torah lifestyle demands separate classes, and קל וחומר social events, which they point out applies in high schools, Sheirut Leumi and other settings, quoting Rav Tzvi Yehuda Kook ZT”L

אין שום היתר ובוודאי יש למחות להתאמץ ולתקן.

The rabbonim of Machon Tal decided not to attend the event since they prohibited it. Notices for the event in the school were removed, but the event did take place and men and women attended, in the separate seating atmosphere as reported.

Srugim explains the organizers opted to host the event in the Ramada and not in the school simply because they recall a similar event two years earlier that was to be held in the school was canceled by the rabbonim for the same reason.

Machon Lev on the other hand issued a statement of a different flavor, with the institute’s director, Shai Gilboa commending organizers and the event.

It appears the words of the rabbonim did have an impact as 1,200 participants were expected but only several dozen turned out, resulting in a bit of protest among some in the dati leumi community over the ban since there was separate seating.

Students’ committee officials preferred not to comment on the events.

(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)

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7 Comments

  1. lazerc says:

    sounds strange, but what do we know about it?

  2. farrocks says:

    “It appears the words of the rabbonim did have an impact as 1,200 participants were expected but only several dozen turned out”

    This event was a dismal failure. Hardly anyone showed up. Instead of over a thousand they had a couple dozen.

    And for good reason. The rabbonim were correct.

  3. 2pence says:

    Wait, so now it’s assur for men and women to ever attend any event together? Even if they aren’t seated together?

    When will this madness end? Hashem is probably crying that we are wasting time and effort on this meshugas instead of pressing matters.

  4. Midwood Yid says:

    We have shiduch crisis. Thousands of singles can not find their bashert. This makes it harder for singles to meet each other.

  5. seagul47 says:

    #3 and #4 have it right.

    In “Sridei Esh”, Rav Yechiel Weinberg zt’l discusses at length the question of mixed groups with proper decorum. (I,8)

    In Western Europe, young adults could meet in an informal atmosphere at these groups. When we were in college, the Yavneh groups provided a venue to meet and socialize in a proper atmosphere.

    As Rav Breuer zt’l would say–”If all that happens is that frum boys marry frum girls, there is nothing greater” all with the proviso that it is done with proper decorum.

    It should also be noted that the founders of Machon Lev were yekkes (one of them being a talmid of Rav Breuer) and brought that hashkofo of Torah Im Derech Eretz to the Machon.

    I hope corrective measures will be taken at the Machon. We are being coerced to listen to meshugas and chumros and look over our shoulders because of it in case someone calls us treife Jews.

  6. Loyal Jew says:

    No. 5, it started with heters to go to the goyim’s college. It continued with heters to establish a “Jewish” college. Now it comes to this. The corrective measure is to listen to the Gedolim before we get an earthquake.

  7. Keeper of the Keys says:

    There is a lot going on in JCT and one of the things that may have “helped” the rabbanim not want this event is the fact that a part of management wants the new Machon Tal campus to be setup right next to the Lev campus to save money.

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