In many Orthodox synagogues, the mechitza is a separate area in which the women are segregated, so the men won’t be distracted by their oh-so-distracting womanliness. It often takes the form of a balcony, to make the space even safer for the easily distractible male snowflakes — and in the beginning of Emil Ben-Shimon’s funny and rousing The Women’s Balcony, the mechitza at a Jerusalem synagogue collapses during a bar mitzvah. Nobody is killed, but the elderly resident Rabbi’s wife becomes comatose, and the Rabbi himself goes into shock. Hunky young Rabbi David (Avraham Aviv Alush) picks up the slack, but troubles begin when he suggests that maybe the problem all along was that the women weren’t being sufficiently modest — their hair wasn’t visible, not even covered by scarves! — and since they don’t really belong in the synagogue anyway, he commandeers the money they raised to rebuild the balcony.
The women are not having it, and this causes a rift in the community, especially between comparatively progressive Zion (Igal Naor) and his wife Ettie (Evelin Hagoel). The Women’s Balcony is an equally hilarious and infuriating look at how patriarchies attempt to assert themselves and how terrified men often get when women stand up for themselves. Nothing relevant to 2017 America here! Move along.
The Women’s Balcony
Opens Friday at the Clay Theater.