Let's Talk About Not Having Sex

Why Is Jewish Abstinence Site Shutting Down Conversation?

thinkstock

By Simi Lichtman

Published June 02, 2013, issue of June 07, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

I believe in abstinence, at least personally, and I believe in Jewish law. So it makes sense to me that a Jewish organization that promotes both Jewish law and abstinence would create a website dedicated to teenagers and sex.

That organization, the National Conference of Synagogue Youth, is the Orthodox Union’s youth movement, and the website is negiah.org. It bills itself as “The First Abstinence Website for Jewish Teens.”

It’s an initiative that opens up the door to information and exploration, something often lacking in Orthodox culture. Instead of setting down the law and expecting young adults to willingly follow without question, NCSY decided to create a platform for discussion. The bona fides of the site’s advisors — two PhDs in psychology and a pediatrician — also seem unimpeachable.

But then there’s the actual content. It ranges, I’m sorry to say, from mildly condescending to downright misleading, with some redeeming statements sprinkled in. Those occasional encouraging sentences are not enough to make up for the rest of the site, though, which, in talking down to the very teenagers it means to target, almost entirely negates the positive ramifications of having an abstinence website in the first place.

In a world where women are striving to forge identities independent of the desires of men, telling a teenage girl that she should abstain because “when a man looks for a wife, he prefers a virgin” is insulting and sexist. That’s before we even approach the assumption that every Jewish girl today should be focused on an end goal of marriage.

To both male and female readers, the site paints an entirely black-and-white picture of sex that oversimplifies the matter and loses the reader. It often seems to assume a boy will only want to have sex with a girl to use her, or to “satisfy [his] own desires.”

Sex is just a desire. It will lead to regret. The site neglects to approach the times when the desire for sex is the hardest: when you are actually in a healthy relationship. When you love him and he loves you, and it’s not just about the physical desire for sex but the emotional bond that comes with it.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Vered Guttman doesn't usually get nervous about cooking for 20 people, even for Passover. But last night was a bit different. She was cooking for the Obamas at the White House Seder.
  • A grumpy Jewish grandfather is wary of his granddaughter's celebrating Easter with the in-laws. But the Seesaw says it might just make her appreciate Judaism more. What do you think?
  • “Twist and Shout.” “Under the Boardwalk.” “Brown-Eyed Girl.” What do these great songs have in common? A forgotten Jewish songwriter. We tracked him down.
  • What can we learn from tragedies like the rampage in suburban Kansas City? For one thing, we must keep our eyes on the real threats that we as Jews face.
  • When is a legume not necessarily a legume? Philologos has the answer.
  • "Sometime in my childhood, I realized that the Exodus wasn’t as remote or as faceless as I thought it was, because I knew a former slave. His name was Hersh Nemes, and he was my grandfather." Share this moving Passover essay!
  • Getting ready for Seder? Chag Sameach! http://jd.fo/q3LO2
  • "We are not so far removed from the tragedies of the past, and as Jews sit down to the Seder meal, this event is a teachable moment of how the hatred of Jews-as-Other is still alive and well. It is not realistic to be complacent."
  • Aperitif Cocktail, Tequila Shot, Tom Collins or Vodka Soda — Which son do you relate to?
  • Elvis craved bacon on tour. Michael Jackson craved matzo ball soup. We've got the recipe.
  • This is the face of hatred.
  • What could be wrong with a bunch of guys kicking back with a steak and a couple of beers and talking about the Seder? Try everything. #ManSeder
  • BREAKING: Smirking killer singled out Jews for death in suburban Kansas City rampage. 3 die in bloody rampage at JCC and retirement home.
  • Real exodus? For Mimi Minsky, it's screaming kids and demanding hubby on way down to Miami, not matzo in the desert.
  • The real heroines of Passover prep aren't even Jewish. But the holiday couldn't happen without them.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.