February 3, 2018 When men don’t hold doors
A reader asked: Is it wrong of me to feel annoyed and offended that a Hasidic Jew didn’t hold the door for me and let it slam in my face because he is not allowed to make contact with women?
Our tour groups go into several shops and we have often seen something like this in one way or another. For instance a man walking into a shop before us and letting the door close on us. Or a Hasidic woman with a stroller trying to get herself and the baby into the shop and a man just walking in without holding the door for her. It happens all the time.
On my tours I explain in detail the importance of gender segregation in the community and that men and women are not to make contact, usually understood to not even hold a door. From the one hand, understanding the culture makes it more digestible. There is almost a wall between the genders and women are not offended by men not holding doors — they don’t expect it and don’t consider it malicious. On the other hand, of course one might find it obtuse. Our cultural definition of what’s kind and considerate makes it almost impossible not to flinch when you see a man whizz into a shop entirely oblivious to the woman with the double stroller.
I’m sure there are some men who are more worldly and quietly wish they could hold the door like a western gentleman but wouldn’t dare do it in the community for fear of being looked at suspiciously.