Sharing the Joy of Separating the Sexes

By Wendy Belzberg

Published March 14, 2003, issue of March 14, 2003.
  • Print
  • Share Share

I used to be promiscuous in my dress and behavior. I have since embarked on a religious journey and have discovered the benefits of no physical contact with men and modest dress. This has boosted my self-esteem and confidence and helped me form meaningful relationships with others, particularly with men. I’d like to suggest a similar philosophy to a non-Jewish friend of mine, but I’m not sure how to do so without proselytizing.

— A modest proposal?

If Calvin Klein or Nicole Miller were having a sale, would you tell your friend or would you worry that she might think you were suggesting a makeover?

The good news is that your friend is not Jewish. Therefore she cannot interpret your message as a push to (re)discover her Jewish roots. You can share your change in behavior and your new feelings of self-esteem just as you pass along a good read. And if it helps, the press is full of headlines about young people choosing to abstain from sex before marriage. This choice often has nothing to do with religion and everything to do with the cheapening of sex and its impact on the individual. Your intentions are good. Your friend will recognize your advice for what it is — genuine concern and the desire to share your newfound self-respect — even if she does not choose to follow your advice or example.

* * *

Our family belongs to both the Orthodox and Conservative synagogues in our city. I feel more at home in the Orthodox shul and have been on the board for the past four years. My wife is uncomfortable with Orthodox Judaism because of the mechitza and the distinction between the roles of men and women. Occasionally I attend services with her at the Conservative synagogue. We have let our children decide for themselves. Our two older children chose to have their bar mitzvahs in the Orthodox shul; our youngest daughter became a bat mitzvah at the Conservative synagogue.

I have been approached to put my name forward for the presidency of the Orthodox shul. My wife does not want me to take on the presidency and says she will not attend services with me. I would like her to go along with me on this one for a two-year term but am reluctant to do so without her support. What do you think I should do?

— Split decision

Good marriages are based on mutual respect. You have been splitting your time between the two synagogues until this point without conflict and are wise enough to have allowed your children to do the same. Why does this have to change? I would strongly advise against giving up something that is important to you (that does not rock the foundation of your marriage) for the sake of your wife.

That said, your situation is a messy one. Attending one shul on Jewish holidays while your wife attends another does not strike me as a viable plan. The board members will have to accept that the president’s seat on the bima will be empty on some high-profile occasions. All this would have to be discussed and agreed upon up front — a feat I would rank somewhere between negotiating a peace treaty in the Middle East and your family’s annual budget. Good luck.






Find us on Facebook!
  • The sign reads: “Dogs are allowed in this establishment but Zionists are not under any circumstances.”
  • Is Twitter Israel's new worst enemy?
  • More than 50 former Israeli soldiers have refused to serve in the current ground operation in #Gaza.
  • "My wife and I are both half-Jewish. Both of us very much felt and feel American first and Jewish second. We are currently debating whether we should send our daughter to a Jewish pre-K and kindergarten program or to a public one. Pros? Give her a Jewish community and identity that she could build on throughout her life. Cons? Costs a lot of money; She will enter school with the idea that being Jewish makes her different somehow instead of something that you do after or in addition to regular school. Maybe a Shabbat sing-along would be enough?"
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
  • Not a gazillionaire? Take the "poor door."
  • "We will do what we must to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else. No more apologies."
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight": http://jd.fo/f4Q1Q
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • 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.