Friday, March 15, 2013

Dear Jew in the City

Recently, Orthodox vlogger Allison Josephs (also known as Jew in the City) published an article on Buzzfeed about ridiculous Orthodox stereotypes.  Now, some of them are not only stupid, but have been largely discredited even in the MSM (does anyone really believe that old "hole in the sheet" myth or that kosher means blessed by a rabbi?  And Manischewitz wine?  Blech.  Give me my Herzog White Riesling any day.)
OK, now I get to respond.
Dear Mrs. Josephs,
I read your article.  While every single point you made is technically true, it's not all a bed of roses.  Now, don't get me wrong.  I identify as Orthodox.  I love the Torah, and will keep it to my dying day!  Judaism is a beautiful religion, and there is a great deal of wisodm and kindness in in it.
However, I must take issue with points 3, 4, 5, 6, and 11.  While it is true that many Orthodox women have fulfilling careers (among my friends are a medical editor and a college professor) and are not slaves to their husbands, do not be so quick to generalize.  Sadly, these stereotypes exist for a reason.  For example, a large majority of the women on my block have at least six children.  My next-door neighbor is currently carrying her ninth.  And these kids are...not that impressive.  (I used to think that I was the only one who got the "Boro Park Stare."  Who knew that it was a real phenomenon?)  Only two women on my block work outside the home, and maybe three have a degree from something that could be considered a real college.  (Unfortunately, there seems to be a growth in online diploma mills.  The degrees granted by these institutions can't be used for much beyond wallpapering the subway.)  As for the science--I know people even in my Modern Orthodox shul who interpret the first chapter of Genesis literally.
Again, I'm happy that you're happy.  I'm glad that being Orthodox doesn't interfere with your hip, urban, 21st-century life.  But this article erases the voices of those for whom Orthodoxy is as described.  Those who raise money for Weberman while silencing his victim.  Those who believe that the Earth really is 6,000 years old.  Those who suffer as agunot.  Those who lose their sons to divorce in a court system that still believes that boys go to the fathers.
I'd like to close with a true story about Elizabeth Cady Stanton, one of the founding mothers of the American suffrage movement.  While she lived in Boston, she loved being a housewife so much that she didn't understand why every woman could not find fulfillment in the domestic sphere.  Since she had good friends and good servants, she was happy.  However, after her husband moved the family to Seneca Falls, and she lost her good friends and devoted servants, she suddenly realized that being a housewife wasn't always pleasant.  This was the moment that she began to fight for suffrage.  While I hope that you never experience the dark side of the Orthodox community, please do not be so quick to discount it.


  1. What do you expect, she lives in trendy Manhattan and you live in Frummy Brooklyn....

  2. I actually see it far more often that the fathers lose their sons to a secular court system who believes that no matter what, the kids belong with the mother, even if she was an abusive, unfaithful person who ever her own kids hate.


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