Li-rfuas Yehoshua Meir ben Rochel Sarah Chaya
Li-zchus Adina bas Shave bas Necha Gittel
Li-rfuas Sara Leah bas Rivka
Someone I know wrote a letter to the rabbi of a certain shul telling him that he can't daven there because the mechitza is transparent. The letter was very respectful and he explained that in the past the shul had a kosher mechitza but because they changed it he can no longer come.
The rabbi's answer was very interesting. He said that the person can daven there because he stand in a place where he can't see the women. He also gave some mussar, telling the person that being strict about mechitza comes at the expense of the women who can't see. So he should be more sensitive to the women. So there, FANATIC:-)!
To respond [my friend didn't because he felt that it would not change the rabbi's mind]:
[This is based on my understanding at present but this sugya requires much more research and עוד חזון למועד. Would love to hear what the talmidei chachomim who read this say].
There is no איסור to daven when one can see women and even if the women are two feet away!!!
One is allowed to daven in the airport or any public place without a mechitza. A mechitza is a halacha that applies to a SHUL [even a temporary one]. So if one is not in a shul for davening, a mechitza is not necessary [of course there is another aspect of mechitza, that it is required at smachot and public gatherings for the purpose of tzniyus]. HOWEVER, if one IS in a shul then a kosher mechitza is absolutely necessary. That means that if one is in a Reform Temple and he stands behind a pillar so that he can't see the women - it doesn't help and he may not daven there. The reason is that the PLACE OF WORSHIP requires a mechitza. Standing in a place where he has a personal mechitza is of no significance. So no davening in a Reform or Conservative Temple - even if he stands in a separate place.
A צורה of a בית כנסת is with a מחיצה.
What about the feelings of our holy sisters??
We are very sensitive to our women. לעולם הוי זהיר באונאת אשתו שמתוך שדמעתה קרובה אונאתה מצויה. However, according to many poskim [based on the Lashon Ha-Rambam] the requirement of a mechitza is that the men shouldn't SEE the women. According to that - how can we talk about the "feelings" of the women when the halacha requires that men not see them.
Many women want their husbands to hold their hand during childbirth? אסור. What about their feelings? Halacha is halacha. Maybe she needs a hug when she is in having her period? אסור. Feelings? Halacha is halacha. Nothing personal.
There are also poskim who are meikel in the height of mechiza but it is not so simple - especially in shuls where the women come not dressed properly.
This rabbis claim was that the IDEAL is to have a low or transparent mechitza. Is there ANY source that says that?? I believe not.
Here are some sources: