Hassidic Woman vs. Hassidic Woman: Round 1

Enough with all the boring Hassidic shtup-talk already. Can't we all just go back to talking about Iran?

If your Facebook feed looks anything like mine, then you spent much of Tuesday reading reactions to one Hassidic woman’s inspiring article about how awesome it is to be a Hassidic woman. If your friends are like mine, they were all like, “You go girl!” to Chaya’s article.

Then, Wednesday morning, my Facebook feed began to include links to ex-Hassidic celebrity Deborah Feldman’s response to Chaya’s awesome article. Not surprisingly, since Deborah was called out in Chaya’s piece, she lashed back.

By this afternoon there was another blog post by Rabbi Eliyahu Fink, where he also takes awesome Chaya to task, but in a more eloquent, less cat-fight sort of way.

Seriously, folks, I want those minutes of my life back.

It’s time to say enough to putting sex in the Hassidic, Orthodox, Lubavitch, whatever communities, under a microscope.

No one cares! Can’t we all just go back to talking about Iran?

During Deborah Feldman’s book interview on The View a couple of weeks ago, with five seconds left before the end of the show, Barbara Walters listened to the producer in her earpiece and quickly asked Deborah to go into how horrific Hassidic sex was. I wasn’t surprised: sex talk brings ratings. And, let’s be honest, anything to make us Jews look bad is good for ratings, right?

I’m not naive enough to think that we should all get along, but Lord, I really wish we could.

Deborah Feldman was yesterday’s news, until Chaya decided to dredge things up again. I get it; I understand Chaya has been stewing and there was this fire in her to set the record straight. To make sure to put it out there, in a forum that does not cater just to Jews, that Hassidic women aren’t as oppressed or sexually repressed as Feldman claims in her book and through her very successful media tour. To impart her love of her community to the world, at large.

In my opinion, Chaya should have let sleeping dogs lie. I get where she’s coming from, but it was neither the time, nor the place, for her article.

Feldman’s 15 minutes were over, but now, with this popular post, she’s back in the spotlight. And, once again, so is all that fabulous, curious, bizarre, sex talk.

(photo credit: Nati Shohat /Flash90)
Moving on

Hasn’t everyone been satisfying their desire for sex by reading the New York Times bestseller “Fifty Shades of Grey?”

Guess I was wrong.

I’d much rather we spend time taking to the internet to discuss some real issues Jewish women are currently facing. Like that Orthodox Jewish women are slowly disappearing from today’s Jewish society. Sixty thousand Orthodox Jewish men filled Citi Field for the Asifa last week, but the women were tucked away, miles away, because it’s inappropriate for men and women to mix at a major league ballpark. What, they couldn’t find a mehitza that long?

Or that Jewish women, even girls, are not represented in marketing materials and billboards in certain Hassidic neighborhoods in Israel. Don’t you all remember what happened in Beit Shemesh this summer? We’re talking harassment of little girls, gender segregation, violence toward Jewish women by Jewish men!

Quite frankly, that frightens me a lot more than how many books Deborah Feldman is selling, or how many people think Hassidic sex is really, really messed up.

Round 1 of Hassidic Woman vs. Hassidic Woman just ended in a technical draw. Here’s hoping there’s no Round 2.

Now let’s go bake some cheesecake and be thankful that Hashem gave us the Torah!

(Full disclosure: I am fully qualified to write this blog post. I am an “FFB” Modern Orthodox Jewish woman who grew up in a YU family, became black hat after my year in seminary, went completely “off the derech,” and then came back to Modern Orthodoxy. I grew up wearing jeans, then dressed modestly, then wore tank tops and mini-skirts, and now wear pants and covers my hair. I passed on doing lines of coke back in my 20s, but I did inhale. I keep the laws of ritual purity but don’t think what goes on in my bedroom is anyone’s business. And I come from a long line of Munkacs Hassidim but have never even met one of my Hassidic relatives, since Hitler wiped out most of my family in the Holocaust.)

About the Author
Shira Zwebner is a public relations consultant and writer living in Jerusalem. A Mommy blogger and recent Olah, Shira writes about living and raising a family as an American trying to find her niche within Israeli culture.