On Monday night, the membership of the Jewish Center of Teaneck will vote on whether to bring a metchitza, a barrier separating men and women, into its main service.
For many years, the center stood as a flagship of “traditional” Conservative Judaism, which accepted mixed seating for men and women but rejected the Conservative movement’s egalitarian innovations that, in the 1970s and ’80s, allowed women to read from the Torah and be ordained as rabbis.
Membership declined from a peak of 1,400 member families, even as Teaneck’s Orthodox synagogues multiplied and its egalitarian Conservative synagogue expanded.
Faced with changing demography, in 2006 the congregation hired an Orthodox rabbi, Lawrence Zierler. In 2007 the congregation installed a mechitza for its daily minyan and began an Orthodox service that meets in the auditorium.
In 2010, the center’s board of trustees voted that the synagogue be Orthodox.
A motion in January that would have switched the auditorium and main services narrowly failed to receive the two-thirds approval required to change the service in the main sanctuary.
If Monday night’s proposal is approved, the congregation will have only one service for Shabbat and holidays. A mixed service would be continued in the auditorium for the High Holidays.