The Silence Around Sex in the Haredi World — and Its Unfortunate Consequences

Ignorance Leads to Improper Sexual Expression

Ulterior Motives: On the surface, there is strict adherence to modesty, but that often hides something more devious underneath.
Kurt Hoffman
Ulterior Motives: On the surface, there is strict adherence to modesty, but that often hides something more devious underneath.

By Margaux Chetrit

Published February 20, 2014, issue of February 21, 2014.
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It was the evening before Israel’s Memorial Day more than five years ago. I was living on Mount Scopus and waiting for any form of transportation to take me to the Kotel for the state ceremony. With little time to spare, a taxi pulled up with a Hasid in the back and a seemingly secular man up front.

I knew the rules: The seating arrangement was just not going to work, and I had no time to wait for another ride. So, we quickly played “musical chairs” and arranged for the Hasid to sit as far away from me as possible during the brief ride to the Old City.

Upon arrival I began to make my way through the cobblestone alleys of the Jewish Quarter, when I noticed the same Hasid was nearly scaling the opposite wall to allow for the most distance between us. Too rushed to be bothered by his exaggerated piety, I continued until I heard him speak. I stopped dead in my tracks when I realized that nobody else was around and he was addressing me.

The real shock came, however, when I was finally able to decipher his words. The very same man who refused to sit in the back seat of a taxi with me, in the name of modesty, was propositioning me for sex. I walked away as fast as my ballet flats could take me, with his cat calls trailing behind, until a group of passing yeshiva boys absorbed him into their sea of black and white and he vanished into the night. And then all fell silent.

Nearly a year later, after my faith in the good intentions and holiness of Haredim was restored, I found myself waiting for a ride on Mount Scopus once again. As my patience wore thin and I cursed the bus’s tardiness in every language I could speak, a yeshiva bokher with a fresh driver’s license pulled up and offered me a ride.

The timid and innocent smile on his acne-riddled face convinced me to accept. I proposed to sit at the back, but he insisted that it was okay for me to ride next to him in the front.

Five minutes of silently driving was interrupted by the click of his seat belt, and in a series of violent motions he lunged across the passenger side, with his tongue darting in the direction of my face. “A shande” I shrieked in heavily accented Yiddish as I exited the car panicked. And then all fell silent.


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