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.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

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.


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!
  • Yeshiva University's lawyer wanted to know why the dozens of former schoolboys now suing over a sexual abuse cover-up didn't sue decades ago. Read the judge's striking response here.
  • It’s over. The tyranny of the straight-haired, button nosed, tan-skinned girl has ended. Jewesses rejoice!
  • It's really, really, really hard to get kicked out of Hebrew school these days.
  • "If Netanyahu re-opens the settlement floodgates, he will recklessly bolster the argument of Hamas that the only language Israel understands is violence."
  • Would an ultra-Orthodox leader do a better job of running the Met Council?
  • So, who won the war — Israel or Hamas?
  • 300 Holocaust survivors spoke out against Israel. Did they play right into Hitler's hands?
  • Ari Folman's new movie 'The Congress' is a brilliant spectacle, an exhilarating visual extravaganza and a slapdash thought experiment. It's also unlike anything Forward critic Ezra Glinter has ever seen. http://jd.fo/d4unE
  • The eggplant is beloved in Israel. So why do Americans keep giving it a bad rap? With this new recipe, Vered Guttman sets out to defend the honor of her favorite vegetable.
  • “KlezKamp has always been a crazy quilt of gay and straight, religious and nonreligious, Jewish and gentile.” Why is the klezmer festival shutting down now?
  • “You can plagiarize the Bible, can’t you?” Jill Sobule says when asked how she went about writing the lyrics for a new 'Yentl' adaptation. “A couple of the songs I completely stole." Share this with the theater-lovers in your life!
  • Will Americans who served in the Israeli army during the Gaza operation face war crimes charges when they get back home?
  • Talk about a fashion faux pas. What was Zara thinking with the concentration camp look?
  • “The Black community was resistant to the Jewish community coming into the neighborhood — at first.” Watch this video about how a group of gardeners is rebuilding trust between African-Americans and Jews in Detroit.
  • "I am a Jewish woman married to a non-Jewish man who was raised Catholic, but now considers himself a “common-law Jew.” We are raising our two young children as Jews. My husband's parents are still semi-practicing Catholics. When we go over to either of their homes, they bow their heads, often hold hands, and say grace before meals. This is an especially awkward time for me, as I'm uncomfortable participating in a non-Jewish religious ritual, but don't want his family to think I'm ungrateful. It's becoming especially vexing to me now that my oldest son is 7. What's the best way to handle this situation?" http://jd.fo/b4ucX What would you do?
  • 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.