When some women leave Hasidism, they untie their aprons for good. But for those who enjoy being domestic goddesses, it’s time to reclaim the title of balebuste.
Simi Lichtman’s grandmother has always called her balebuste. She once resented being pigeonholed as a housewife, but explains why she now takes it as a compliment.
As a 21st-century version of the balebuste, Sisterhood contributor Elissa Strauss wrote of the joys of being an organized, industrious wife. Although Strauss’s balebuste inclinations were recognized when she was still a little girl, one may argue that she officially entered the ranks of true balebuste-hood when she became a wife. (Other Sisterhood contributors weighed in on embracing or rejecting the balebuste moniker here, here, and here.)
August is my time for cleaning house. Before the start of the new school year and the next winter season, I like to clear out piles of old things, papers that are no longer relevant, clothes that will never be worn again in this house, projects completed or abandoned. It’s a spiritual as much as a physical task, all about letting go, making space inside myself, and starting over. So it has been with a certain interest that, as I filled my fourth garbage bag for the day, I read the story by Elissa Strauss and the follow-up post by Debra Nussbaum Cohen about women’s housecleaning.
The title of Elissa Strauss’ essay in the Forward, “Embracing My Inner Balebuste,” caught my eye. Perhaps it’s a reflection of what I assume are a few years of difference in our age that I find the term “balebuste” loaded with provocative associations and Elissa can embrace the title with pride. On the other hand, maybe it simply reflects what housework meant in our respective homes, growing up.