I had wondered whether Yitta Halberstam’s “Plea to Mothers of Girls in Shudduchim” [the process of dating for marriage], published recently in the Jewish Press, was really a Purim spoof, even if it did come out well after the holiday. Alas, no. Her suggestion that Orthodox women of marrying age should take any and all measures, including undergoing plastic surgery, to improve their appearance, is apparently one given in earnest.
Hasidim, and even more “garden variety” Orthodox Jews such as myself, are a people apart, and we will always seem strange against the backdrop of 21st century America. With all the press coverage over the last few weeks, I can’t even count how many of my classmates have asked me if I have any hair under my hat or if I shave it off. For the record, I keep it long. Still my answer doesn’t do much for the weirdness factor. But I guess we’ve been the weird ones for 4,000 years or so; it’s nothing new.
Jewish law takes a pretty liberal stance when it comes to birth control. Pretty much any rabbi will say it’s permissible for the sake of a woman’s physical, emotional or mental health, or the sake of a couple’s marriage, or the needs of a family. Furthermore, many rabbis consider oral contraceptives to be most preferable under Jewish law. That means if an Orthodox woman is using birth control, chances are she’s using the Pill.
When Gavriella Lerner goes to school, her husband stays home with their young son. He’s not babysitting; he’s parenting, and thereby fulfilling an important commandment, she writes.
There’s been a lot of talk lately about tsnius, or modesty, lately — with all of the news coming out of Israel. I recently came across this cartoon, showing a woman in a bikini and a woman in a burqa, each judging harshly how the other is dressed. The cartoon got me thinking how both sides pictured get it wrong.
About a month ago, I was nursing my son in the waiting room at the pediatrician’s office. A young girl who looked to be about 10 or 11 noticed a pair of little feet sticking out from under my blue floral nursing cover and innocently asked me what I was doing, and I responded that I was feeding my baby. Her eyes widened incredulously as she asked, “How do you feed a baby without a bottle?” Now, her mother was right there, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned in the 8.5 months that I’ve been a parent, it’s that “backseat parenting” is just not cool, so I quickly mumbled something about asking her (mortified looking) mother and left it at that.
As a Stern College alumna, I feel the need to explain why the recent Beacon sex essay that described a premarital sexual encounter was received negatively by many Yeshiva University students and alumni.