By Yehuda Ceitlin, Editor of COLlive
A Chabad thinker from Jerusalem who criticized the tznius regulations at the Rebbe‘s Ohel resting place recently, calling for separate areas for men and women, was described as ‘out of line.’
Rabbi Yechezkel Soffer, a noted lecturer and teacher in Israel, decried in an op-ed the mixed crowds that visit the Old Montefiore cemetery in Cambria Heights, Queens.
“Such a phenomenon does not exist at any of the gravsites of Tzaddikim and with other Chassidic movements,” he wrote on our Hebrew sister-site COL.org.il.
Soffer pointed out the mingling of men and women in the tent used to write a personal “pan” letter, the narrow paths in the cemetery, and inside the Ohel, which has a hanging chain separator he dismissively called “a Reform partition.”
He called for changes such as to designate the main entrance to the cemetery as the women’s entrance (although that entry closes at 5 PM daily and is not operated by Chabad), to provide separate rooms for coffee and refreshments, and even a second level over the Ohel covered with tinted glass as a women’s section.
Soffer, known for his controversial opinions on the future of Chabad after 3 Tammuz, has received support from Rabbi Dovid Meir Drukman of Kiryat Motzkin, also an outspoken figure.
So far, comments from Israeli web readers have varied from enthusiastic agreement to outright dismay that “Chabad is not Satmar” and over making the issue public prior to contacting the ones responsible.
Rabbi Abba Refson, Director of Ohel Chabad-Lubavitch which operates the Ohel and its vicinity, told COLlive inquiries about the topic should be directed to the umbrella organization Agudas Chassidei Chabad International (Aguch).
Rabbi Avrohom Shemtov, Chairman of Aguch, said in response: “Anyone who really cares – let alone being sensitive to the Rebbe’s inyonim – knows who to turn to and does not need to run to the media.”
The senior Philadelphia-based Shliach who is frequently seen at the Ohel added that he refused to comment further “not to dignify this attempt and attitude behind it.”