Tag Archives: shpitzel

A spiritual activist takes on the tznius (modesty) police

10 Oct

Time to get back on my soap box and start blogging again (after a long summer spent relaxing back in the old country).

So in Monsey, about an hour north of New York City, a town with a large population of frum Jews (many of whom are Hasidic, or devoutly Orthodox), it is a fairly common occurrence to see posters adorning lampposts, notice boards, and random walls across town proclaiming that in order for G-d to be/remain in our midst, or to avoid divine retribution,  women have to, for example: –

– Wear looser clothing, so as not to attract the wrong kind of attention;

– Refrain from wearing beautiful, human-hair sheitels (wigs) that could send out the ‘wrong message’ (Orthodox Jewish women have to cover their hair, and many do so with wigs, but some branches of Hasidic Jews proscribe the use of wigs and authorise only cloth hair coverings, such as shpitzels, or snoods);

– Wear skirts of a certain length only (Orthodox Jewish women are prohibited from wearing trousers, and must wear skirts instead, which should extend below the knee).

This last item forms the topic of interest today. Recently, in Monsey, a new ruling was promulgated on posters across town stating that women must wear skirts “that extend exactly four inches below the knee“. Not three inches, not five inches, but four inches. Women who wear skirts either longer or shorter than this length, the proclamation went on to proclaim, are causing the shechinah (G-d’s divine presence) to depart from our midst.

(How the proclaimers know of this direct causal relationship between the length of local women’s skirts and the presence or absence of the shechinah therein remains a source of great mystery to those not in the know.)

In the event, a young, Orthodox Jewish spiritual activist who lives in Monsey – my niece by marriage, Rochel Kind – decided to take on the proclaimers at their own game. She went round town and everywhere she found a poster of said proclamation, stuck up next to it her own carefully formulated response, showing how the directive is quite out of line with the halachot (Jewish laws) governing modesty. Using the appropriate terminology and jargon as well as using reasoning based on the Jewish legal traditions, she responded in kind to the modesty police. Here is her inspired response (glossary of Hebrew terms below):

Related blog posts:

Honey, I’m just popping down to the garage to pick up some cholent

What, didn’t you know Jewish women aren’t allowed to drive?

Muslims and Jews united in…banning women from driving

Reading Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s ‘Nomad’

heads, shoulders, knees and toes


hidur: extra ‘beautification’ of a Jewish law, but not a requirement

halacha / halachos: laws / religious instructions

makor: a textual source from the Talmud or other Jewish legal texts

Gemara: the Talmud

Beis Hamikdash: the Temple in Jerusalem

sinas chinam: baseless hatred / intolerance

ahavas chinam: baseless love / tolerance

Klal Yisroel: the Jewish people

ahavas yisroel: love of fellow Jews

b’kedusha: holy

Hashem: G-d

mechalel Shabbos v’yom tov: breaking the laws of Sabbath and holy festival days.

the quirks of people’s web searches that lead to my blog

10 Mar

WordPress has this clever tool that shows you what keyword searches people on Google/other search engines are doing that lead them to your blog.

The two most prevalent keyword searches I’ve noticed so far are:

1) (no great surprises here) “weed/pot in Manhattan”

– which leads the searcher straight to my post about how Manhattanites get their weed delivered door-to-door.

2) The other seemingly most popular keyword search is definitely more of a surprise: “shpitzel”

– which is randomly enough, the pillbox hat/sheitel (wig) combination that some Hasidic women choose to cover their hair with (a sheitel on its own is not good enough because G-d forbid some people might unknowingly think it is your own hair).

This leads searchers to my post about discovering how there’s a Yiddish word for everything.

Who would have thought as many people (based on the findings of this very unscientific study) were scouring the Web for information about shpitzels as are seeking how to get hold of weed in Manhattan?

Afterword: Try as I might, I can’t seem to find an image to upload to this post of a woman wearing a shpitzel hair covering. Is this a worrying reflection of the increasingly repressive trend on the part of editors of the Orthodox Jewish press to censor any image of a woman/girl/female?

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