Elana Maryles Sztokman is entitled to her own opinion but not to her own facts (“My Feminist Struggles With Yom Kippur,” Oct. 3). Classical Judaism as codified in halacha has never been gender- neutral, nor class-neutral for that matter.
Men, and not women, performed the Temple rites and women and men were separated into different areas in the Temple. Kohanim (priests) and Leviim (Levites) had different duties than the other Jews and received special tithes. The Talmud describes our synagogues as a “Mikdash Me’at,” or a “mini-Temple” and therefore, Jewish law mandates separate seating and a mechitza to mirror the complete separation of the sexes in the Temple.
Which begs the question: since Ms. Maryles-Sztokman’s real issue is with classical Judaism and halacha: who forced her to worship in an Orthodox synagogue that separates the sexes? No, Orthodoxy does not owe an apology to Ms. Maryles-Sztokman. She owes Orthodoxy an apology for her attack.