Is Unorthodox better than Orthodox? 

Have you ever wondered why G-d or Nature – call it what you want – felt the need to create a female?

Why are the bodies and brains of man and woman so different?

Why does my endocrine system produce more estrogen while my husband’s produces more testosterone?

Why do women feel more empathy and tend towards details, while men generally project themselves onto big projects and sometimes lose sight of life’s details?

When G-d created the world, he found it necessary to include two types of energies, one male and one female.

Having imagined the world with only one type of energy – male – the image that arose did not please Him.

His creation would come out predictable, populated by people with the same vision, imbued with a single mode of reasoning and pervaded by a desire to conquer and dominate. In that world, contradiction would not be possible.

In order to truly transform our world and make it a better place, both energies must work together, and move in unison towards a common goal.

Every detail of creation contains male and female energy. You can work out a puzzle only by fitting opposing pieces together.

What you see in Unorthodox isn’t what you find in the Torah nor in Orthodox Jewish society. The Netflix mini-series shows a cross-section of a cross-section of the world of observant Judaism – a corner that exists, but is very limited. What’s more, the series portrays a partial representation, distorted by the malaise experienced by the author of the book.

They show you the mikveh, but not the feelings of trepidation of the women who immerse themselves.

The bride and groom seem condemned – not people who have chosen to share a life together.

Female characters are relegated to the role of procreator and deprived of all dignity.

If some of the experiences you see actually exist in random corners of the Orthodox world, for 99%, it isn’t like that.

Every single day, an Orthodox Jew chooses to follow the rules that G-d has passed down, difficulties and challenges notwithstanding.

This doesn’t mean we are depriving ourselves.

We study what we want; we become doctors, university rectors, professors (my choice) or pianists.

We marry whom we choose, with the person we fall in love with.

The rules for Jewish living guide us so that we don’t lose ourselves in the world;

they help us understand which direction to take, and prevent the society we live in from taking over what it wants of us.

Rather, we strive to become our best selves according to our best judgement.

Women enjoy full equal rights to men while holding responsibilities that sometimes differ. A woman is worthy as such – not because she hides her special energy in favor of male energy.

In Jewish society, women are well-protected, like any other human being.

You are valued as yourself and not because you mold yourself on some other model.

Defend your right to know the truth.

Four 50-minute episodes are not enough to understand an entire world.

Esty Shapiro’s former life has only shabat, mikveh, a wig and kosher food in common with 99% of Orthodox women. If such aspects interest you, go find out about them through those who choose to live with them every day – not by journalists who have judged me, without ever having sat at a shabat table.

Einstein said, “It is easier to break down an atom than a prejudice”.

Freedom is to be judged for who I am – not for the box in which people imagine me.

Gheula Canarutto Nemni

About the Author
Gheula Canarutto Nemni is a professor and novelist living in Milan, Italy. Her most recent novel '(Non) si può avere tutto' Mondadori 2015 tells the story of an Italian Orthodox Jewish girl and her challenges in the professional world in Milan.
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