Orthodox Jewish dating gone raw.

There’s been heightened talk in the last year or so about how the dating practices of Orthodox Jews (not modern Orthodox) – shidduchim, or matchmaking – have gone awry. Connected to that is the issue of hyper-modesty, which has certainly been a volatile topic in the last year and decade, in Israel and outside.

The situation is severe. And the Jewish world is discussing it here and there.

Here’s a very well-written Tablet article by ‘insider’ Avital Chizhik depicting the extremism in halacha teaching and practice in the diaspora: Tights Squeeze: How  much modesty will ever be enough for Orthodox girls?

Avital explains the world we grew up in, where over time, teachings have gotten more and more strict and religion has become more and more based on fear and details. Spoiler alert, I’m giving away the ending, but this is something I’ve been thinking about for years as I’ve moved further and further away from what passes as ‘halacha’ these days:

Back in high school, when we girls would ask our teachers for the source of the laws of modesty, the classic answer was to turn to Micah 6:8. Yet now it dawns on me that the same text has been misread, poorly taught. When Micah enjoins Israel to “do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk modestly with thy God,” his final verb is to walk with God. Modestly is simply the adverb.

He essentially is asking that our piety, our walks with God, be done modestly—he’s not asking us to hide our women. Nor to confine them to specific streets, nor to the back of the bus.

Perhaps, rather, he is asking us to keep our piety modest. No one needs to know how many pages of Talmud you’ve learned today, what kosher certification you don’t trust, how intensely you sway during prayer—or how thick your tights are.

On the flip side is Yitta Halberstam, writing this week in the Jewish Press: Purim And The Tyranny Of Beauty: A Plea to Mothers of Girls in Shidduchim. The article is so gut-wrenchingly, nauseating to read, I have a friend who was hesitant to share it directly.

But as disgusted as it made me feel – for boys, for girls, for mothers of singles looking to get married in the Orthodox world – I felt I had to bring it up.

Yitta’s point seems to be, as a mother of a son in shidduchim, that as she feels sorry for the throngs of girls who have to sit back as they get ‘chosen’ for a marriage, which is a highly competitive process, she has this piece of advice for their poor mothers: don’t let them leave the house without looking as beautiful as they can. Make up is the first line of offense, but then if you must, resort to borrowing money and getting surgery.

She compares today’s Jewish bride wannabes with the women of Persia in Megillat Esther. She quotes the Satmar Rebbe who helped a pious woman on the dating scene by paying for her to get teeth (she had none).

The absurdity there, for  me, is the lack of a notion for attempting to fix the broken system. Applying make up is the application of a band-aid on a horribly unfair and growing worse condition of shidduchim, which leaves ‘older’ girls behind, and rewards based on non-personal merits like wealth, family status, and which bride’s family can pay for a new apartment.

Anyway – I’m not going to go into it fully here. It’s written with such attitude and faux modesty (hmm, see above). I dunno. Check it out for yourself. It’s not wrong that the Charedi world’s dating system is superficial/unfair (I have my own Charedi nieces who in a few short years will be in this dark predicament). But that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be fixed.

You can check out A Mother In Israel’s take on the Jewish Press article for more detail on the flaws.

Bottom line: Something is broken in Orthodox Judaism’s version of modesty, dating, and women’s issues. And I’m not hearing much from the people with the power to fix it.

The magic of being bilingual.

On the way to gan this morning, Koala spotted a firetruck on the road. Obviously, this made his morning, and for the rest of the way cried out in excitement, “Fire truck! Fire truck woke up! Fire truck is here!”

He was still talking about it as we walked up to the gan door, so to get him moving a little faster, I said, “Why don’t you go inside and tell your friends about the fire truck!”

That got me wondering. Would he tell them in English? Would they understand? Does he talk about fire trucks in Hebrew? Does he get as excited? Does he get more?

We reached the door and I kissed him good bye. He flew from my arms, burst into the room, and with everyone’s attention yelled: “!מכבי אש! מכבי אש”

So there’s that.

In the last few months I’ve noticed more articles about bilingual advantages. Maybe because it’s clearly on my mind daily and maybe because new studies are constantly being reported.

Here’s a quick summary of the science: Why Bilinguals Are Smarter (NYTimes).

Here’s an excellent post about the socio-national-political-academic advantages: Teach your kids English (Times of Israel)



Retro Europe: the anti-Semitism still spills the blood of children in 2012.

In case you were feeling lost in the big bad world today, the world of terrorism, bus bombs, embassy bombs, car bombs, nuclear bomb threats, rocket launchers…

Today we are exposed to some run-of-the-mill old fashioned European anti-Semitism. Of the absolute worst kind: the cold-blooded point-and-shoot murder of Jewish children.

In 2012 France.

The gunman was on a scooter, stopped, and went towards Toulouse district’s Ozar Hatorah Jewish day school and shot at the kids and teachers, indiscriminately, as they were going into the building.

Apparently, French police believe it is the same person who shot and killed Muslim/Arab immigrant French soldiers last week, in the same district, in a similar fashion.

To be honest, aside from their names and ages, I can’t get myself to read every bloody detail about this horrific tragedy for the Jewish people today. I can’t handle more children dying in cold blood. More hatred based on stupidity and ignorance.

Yet, here I am, doing it anyway.

Explain to me how spilling the blood of a small child proves your point? (Explain to me why I should listen to you?)

The murdered victims of the shooting (there were others seriously injured) include:

  • Rabbi Yonatan Sandler, 30, an Israeli-French teacher at the school
  • Aryeh, 3, son of Rabbi Sandler
  • Gavriel, 6, also son of Rabbi Sandler
  • Miriam Montenago, 8, daughter of the school’s principal Rabbi Yaakov Monsonego

Somehow, some way, their families should find peace and comfort and the killer should be served the justice he deserves, which I’m pretty sure doesn’t exist in this world.

Nightmare: being a black boy’s parent in America.

I’m gonna do a lil Jon Stuart here and shift the focus to Camera 2: America.

May I have your attention? I have a question for you. For us. It goes like this:

What the fuck? 

The Trayvon Martin story. This 17-year-old boy was killed in cold blood when a 28-year-old community nightwatchmen (not a cop), George Zimmerman (they’re calling him Spanish-speaking white), decided Trayvon was a threat to HIS LIFE while he was on duty in the Sanford, Florida community. Zimmerman called 911 and reported the boy. He was meant to leave it alone for 911 services to take care of, but continued pursuit of the boy, got out of his car with his concealed weapon, and proceeded to attack. Neighbors heard screams. Trayvon was found dead with a bullet to his chest, after a wrestling match seems to have occurred in the grass.

But according to Florida law, killing someone in self defense is legal – in your house or anywhere in public. Obviously, carrying guns is also legal.

So when the cops arrived, no arrest was made of Zimmerman. He walked off, covered in an innocent boy’s blood. And there are no charges as of now because according to state law, he’s somehow ‘in the clear.’

Here’s some more background if you’ve missed it, because this is NEED TO KNOW info for all American citizens:

Charles M. Blow from the NYTimes writes a heart-wrenching piece on what it means to be a black parent in the United States : The Curious Case of Trayvon Martin

And, no, I chose not to go into law for 307562 reasons, but I gotta say, Florida, you really fucked this one up. This was self defense? And he’s a goddamn minor. A minor. You can’t offer the chance at justice in the case of a murdered minor? When the transcripts show proof of no good reason to follow, persecute, kill the ‘suspect’ by a non-police citizen with a record for excessiveness?

Trayvon Martin deserves the chance at justice, like every other American. The way this country was built to do.

Here’s a change.org petition, addressing Florida’s 18th District State’s Attorney (Norman Wolfinger), Florida Attorney General (Pam Bondi), and Sanford Police Chief (Bill Lee), as well as the the Facebook page demanding justice and spreading news.

Israel <3s Iran. Do you?

Apparently, Israel <3s Iran after all.

Or, it’s super simple to set up a website where people can submit photos of themselves to be overlayed with ‘Iranians we will never bomb your country. We love you.”

Sigh. Iranians, I’m sure you’re as lovely, hot-headed, expressive, stubborn, artistic, annoying as we Israelis are. I say that with all due mockery of ourselves and the situation we find ourselves in.

Honestly, Iranians, I just want your children to be safe. And, more closely, my children to be safe. Everything else – we can work on over tea sometime.

The Israeli lovefest website agrees. Its ‘about’ states:

To all the fathers, mothers, children, brothers and sisters

For there to be a war between us, first we must be afraid of each other, we must hate.
I’m not afraid of you, I don’t hate you.
I don t even know you. No Iranian ever did me no harm. I never even met an Iranian…Just one in Paris in a museum. Nice dude.

There’s just one little itty bitty problem, Iranian peeps. And I don’t think it’s either of us.

via Times of Israel.

Satire spotted on the internets?!

Maybe that Old Spice Guy served a purpose after all.

Hello members of the U.N.,

Take a look at yourselves, now back to me, now back at yourselves, now back to me. Sadly, you’re not me. But if your cities got bombarded by 220 rockets in just 3 days, maybe you could feel like me. Look down; back up, where are you? You’re in a bomb shelter, after the tenth siren alarm today, and school has been canceled once again. What’s in your hand, back to me. I have it. It’s a fabricated picture of a dead child whose sole purpose is to show how the IDF bombs kids. Look again. These kids were slaughtered in Syria by Assad’s regime. Everything is possible with the power of Photoshop, but what would you do if someone fired rockets at your citizens?

I’m on a Qassam.

I still love it best when Grover does it.