(Hat Tip: Orthonomics)
The obsession gripping the Chareidi community with the issue of gender separation is truly frightening. Here is a community with so many problems, both social and financial and all they seem to be able to do to response to announce new ways to hide women from the sight of the men or limit their existence in their society to an even greater extent.
The latest example of this has been covered by both Orthonomics and the Emes v'Emunah blog, both of them quoting from a story in the American Jewish press about preparations for the upcoming Siyum HaShas celebrations being put on by the Agudah.
Never mind all those stories you hear about poor Chareidim with empty fridges and shoes worn through. Forget all the stuff about schools being forced to cut back or close due to lack of funds. In the Chareidi community there is, in fact, plenty of money as the decision to spend a quarter of a million dollars on a mechitzah at the festitivites shows.
Now one may point out that it is a priority for the Agudah crowd to have not just separate seating at the event but visibly separated seating. After all, there are many who would want to participate in the event who don't really care what halacha has to say about separate seating at public events and will insist on attending only if a large mechitza has been erected. Nothing says "Look how frum I am" like one of those.
But a quarter of a million dollars?! For a one time thing? From a community that never hesitates to cry poor?
As Rav Maryles notes, the "We want to be inclusive as possible" line is also a lie. The Agudah couldn't care less about participation by those who are to the left of its hashkafah. Their leaders would like nothing more than to look out into the crowd and see only black hats. Not suedes, not knitted, and certainly not those rayon pointy-topped ones. Are they going to include prominent non-Agudah rabbonim whose merits, piety and knowledge are certainly on par with theirs? Not likely, not by a longshot.
So in summary: they have the money to spend on a fancy divider, but not on food and schools. They are prepared to put a five-star party on even as so many of the community, especially in Israel, live in parking lots or on the street wondering where their next meal will come from.
This is Torah behaviour? This is really the mesorah?