Yocheved Rappoport
Yocheved Rappoport

Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop: A Response to My Unorthodox Life

Julia Haart, I was interested in watching your show and eager to hear all about your sheer tenacity, grit and creative accomplishments, fueled by your feminine energy. I wanted to be entertained by your audacious adventures and daring stories about your climb to the top of the ladder. Many people with college degrees, money and talent, aim for the top, yet hardly reach what you have reached. You are a female CEO of Elite World Group, the world’s largest talent network. How did you get there? How did you make that happen? Which personality and character traits got you to where you are? What is the secret to your success? 

I was so surprised. In your show, I got no answers to these questions. My surprise quickly turned to discomfort and it went from bad to worse. Little did I know that I was about to take a deep dive, a spin on the proverbial feeling wheel. As I watched the show, shame started to wash over me, then disgust, and rage. It hurt. I felt pain and sadness. I was pained as I listened to you attack our way of life, our values, communities and roles.

I felt small and insignificant, as you shamed the likes of me on the big wide screen. I felt my skin crawl and wanted to hide but there was nowhere to go. I felt disgusted by the manipulation and untruths about me. Disgusted by the way you portray empowerment and a woman’s worth as coming from her body parts rather than her intellect, inner strength and creativity. We live in a patriarchal society where masculine traits such as dominance, aggression, and competitiveness, trump feminine traits such as intuition, nurturing, and generosity. You imply that to be successful in this world a woman needs to disown her feminine traits. 

Was this the message that mothers should empower their daughters with? Oh no. The shame was disappearing as I realized that this was not my shame to carry! I felt my teeth clench, jaw stiffen and my heart pound. I was surprised by my own anger as I felt the injustice of this all. How dare you reduce me to a baby making machine, an addendum, a woman of the 1800’s ON A WORLD STAGE. Excuse me, can I speak for myself please? Let’s call a spade a spade. This show is offensive, racist and intolerant. All Jewish lives matter. 

The pain of being grossly misrepresented, misunderstood and maligned burned.  How can it be that a life of creating a family through blood, sweat and tears means nothing? Do I not matter? Is my role just so unimportant? As I felt strength coursing through my veins, the anger subsided and I felt ok again. More than ok. I felt strong because I am a Jew. An Orthodox Jewish mother. A single Jewish mother. I know there are odds stacked against me. What a small unpopular minority I belong to, but I keep going when the going gets tough. No one can make me feel bad about being a Jew, or about practicing my religion, without my permission. Not you, not Netflix and not Ben and Jerry’s.

Are we Orthodox Jews human? Are we imperfect? Do we struggle? Certainly. There’s a quote I love, that says “Let nothing human be alien to you” The ills of society don’t escape us and we have our share of problems to work on. Agreed. But it’s like you zoomed in on an ugly pimple on a beautiful face, repeatedly at every chance you get, until one no longer sees the face.

I look around my home, at my children, and I know why I do this. I am the pillar of my family, of our history, of our future. What a stunning role, what a lofty concept. Throughout the ages Jews were known for their strong families; at the very core of our Jewish values is the family. It always was and always will be our claim to fame. Behind every great Jew is a great Jewish mother. Orthodox Jewish mothers juggle the extraordinary with the everyday, the spiritual with the mundane, a heroic feat that is nothing short of a modern miracle. Simultaneously, we maintain many other influential roles today such as, artists and academics, physicians and scientists, entrepreneurs and activists, lawyers, engineers and more.

Is it easy to keep kosher, find modest clothes and live a life of moral values in the society we live in? It is not easy. As you have said, Julia, “Easy? No. But easy is boring.” Your show reignited the fire in me. Thank you. I feel like Wonder Woman now and there is no stopping me. To my beautiful, precious children I want to say, I will continue to provide safety, stability, peace, love and harmony in the place we call home, in Monsey N.Y. This is our way of life and we will choose it, defend it and live it, unapologetically. We have survived train wrecks before and we will regroup after this one.

Signed,

#CantStopWontStop

About the Author
Yocheved Rappoport, MHC, is passionate about serving her community as a Clinical Mental Health Counselor and lives with her children in Monsey, NY.
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