Sunday, December 02, 2007

This Ain't Your Bubby's Burka

The Beit Shemesh Burka: Extreme Tznius (modesty). [Please note, this is NOT a parody. This is a real posting, summarized and partly translated from the Haaretz newspaper]

Kabul arrives in Beit Shemesh Bet -- and manages to even surpass the Beit Shemesh Bet "Tznius Patrol."

A group of Ultra-Orthodox chareidi women in Ramat Beit Shemesh have hyperbolated tznius to the extreme and now wear burkas whenever they go outside their home. Not advocated by any known rabbi, the burka fad is apparently radical chareidi feminist "invention", and many are wary if this custom should be adopted or repudiated. The radical Beit Shemesh tznius patrol is even scratching it's head whether someone managed to out do them, and leave them in the dust with the liberal left.

The husband of one such woman took his wife to Beit Din (religious court) to request from her to remove the burka due to shalom bayit (a peaceful home). The court ordered a religious divorce even though the husband didn't even request one -- because the court found her behaviour to be so bizarre.

The women in Ramat Beit Shemesh receive their instruction from Rabbanit Bruria Keren, who advises about 20 women in the 20s and 30s how to dress, pray and conduct their lives.

The burka dress fashion has spead to Elad, Beitar Elite, Teverya, Tzefat and even the Beit Yisrael neighborhood of Jerusalem.

"I don't want men to look at me. I'm happy being modest. In the past, I felt uncomfortable to walk around [sans-burka], in such a wanton fashion. At first, I just wore a wig. Now, when I see a woman with a wig, I pray to G-d to forgive her for wearing that "thing" on her head. It's difficult. We get humiliated. What haven't they said to me? My neighbors yelled at me, "Leave us alone, you smelly arab." I was pushed. But this is a test from G-d. At the Central Bus Station I undergo security checks and am asked for identification. I don't want men seeing my ID picture, so I just show them my children to prove I'm not an Arab."

--Quote from a Burka and Hijab wearing Jewish woman in her late 20s, who lives in Jerusalem.

The above synopsis is just a small part of an entire article in Haaretz. Unfortunately, it's all in Hebrew, and I don't have time to translate the entire article in English. Suffice it to say, the above is more than enough.
With all the craziness going on here, I assume it's only a matter of time before we see driver's licenses like the one below...

Hot Chanie Hijabs?


**The top picture above was taken in the Bet Yisrael neighborhood of Jerusalem of a Chareidi woman walking around in a Burka. Credit: Alex Libeck, Haaretz.

Hattip: Lurker!


Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

40 comments:

YMedad said...

And here I am waiting for the translation and you put this up. You must be spending to much time in the Muqata.

Fern said...

Whoa. Is there some sort of weird thing going on with the Jewish calendar that caused Purim to come before Chanukkah?

Oleh Yahshan said...

you see, and I thought it was a joke at first... until I read the article in Haaretz....
Hashem help us all... but I guess he can start with these women!

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

I think I'd better leave a note at the top that this is REAL, and not some Purim joke...

mother in israel said...

Last Pesach I saw some women dressed in very wide capes, not like in the picture. I tried to take pictures but they were too far away adn I didn't want to ask them to pose. I'm going to see if I can blow up the pix I did get.

Lion of Zion said...

i'm not sure if this is a joke or not. even if true, i don't think anyone would really be surprised at this development (considering all else).

what i am surprised about is the fact that these woman have adopted this practice at the behest of a rabbanit.

for what it's worth, veiled women in judaism are not a novel idea. rivkah wore one and it is part of "dat yehudit" (whatever that means) as described by the rambam. i think i've also seen pictures of yemenite women with faces partially covered and a bukharian friend told me that some women used to do this in the old country.

Rafi G said...

I have seen one of these women in RBS in the Merkaz Mischari doing some shopping. It is a sight to be seen... she draws lots of stares....understandably

PsychoToddler said...

I think she is mentally ill. Is there some rabbi advocating this? In the summer this would be considered dangerous.

Lion of Zion said...

RAFI:

"she draws lots of stares"

so then you are saying that this is NOT tzanu'a?

PSYCHOTODDLER:

"In the summer this would be considered dangerous"

i guess no more so than in the arabian desert. or no more than men wearing a bekssher, wool talit katan and a streimel.

JAMEEL:

what makes you think she is allowed to drive?

~ Sarah ~ said...

that's crazy. i'm surprised they don't trip over those things cos they can't see where they're going.

SephardiLady said...

Thanks for the translation.

Yochanan said...

Frumsatire showed me this. I was like, "Are you sure this is not an Afgani tourist?"

But, hey, whatever floats her boat. As long as some whackos don't make that into the new tzniut standard!

Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

wow. some people really called it.

Shmilda said...

החמירו בנות ישראל על עצמן...

Sound familiar?

Miriam said...

OMG! Please say your kidding.

I can't find the source. I checked Haaretz and there was nothing.

I agree w/Yochanan up there. As long as me and my daughters don't have to do it.

Abbi said...

I heard about this from a friend who lives in Beit Shemesh and my husband and I thought this was just an urban legend.

Real sickness. :(

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Miriam: What do you mean you checked Haaretz and couldnt find it? It's over here:

http://www.haaretz.co.il/hasite/pages/ShArtPE.jhtml?itemNo=927135&contrassID=2&subContrassID=4&sbSubContrassID=0

Mike Miller said...

I've also seen a woman [or was it a man? who can tell..] in RBS-B once.

Regarding the danger; while a wool poncho might not be terribly healthy, I once saw an article (forgot where; SciAm maybe?) which suggested that the benefits of an all black cloak (Bedouin style) in a hot desert climate is that it creates a breeze due to slightly heating the air contained inside, resulting in a net _cooling_ effect to the wearer.

Lurker said...

The more risqué women of RBSB may perhaps be interested in the Burqini™...

amshinover said...

it's about time

RR said...

To these women I say: Congratulations. You've officially turned yourselves into invisible, second-class citizens. Good job pushing the women's movement back about 1000 years.

Disgusting.

Delaney said...

They haven't pushed anything back 1000 years. They're making choices regarding their own religious practices, independent of what their husband or mainstream religion says. If anything, these women are doing MORE for "the women's movement" by taking initiative themselves.

The back of the hill said...

I am just staggered at the insanity. Flabbergasted. Floored. Knocked for a loop.
Oyyyy!

Lurker said...

Delaney: If anything, these women are doing MORE for "the women's movement" by taking initiative themselves.

Right, sure they did. And American blacks can advance the Civil Rights movement by voluntarily sitting only in the backs of buses, staying away from all parks and restaurants frequented by whites, and whipping themselves in public. After all, if it's their own choice, then it must be "self-empowerment", right?

Meanwhile, Muslim women can advance feminism by offering themselves up voluntarily for "honor killings". (I wonder how long it'll be before that shows up in RBSB too.)

Not Lurker said...

The Jewish Version:

Scraps said...

Hashem yishmor. You know, I'd heard people sarcastically say that the only way to make a Jewish woman more tzanua was to make her wear a burka, but I never thought I'd see the day...

rebecca m said...

It makes sense that women would initiate it.

1. These women have learned to be on guard lest any part of their body cause a man to think sexual thoughts. So they are trying to be the best frum women they can.

2. It also seems a natural outcome of the idea that tzniyut is to women what torah is to men.

3. If a woman's worth is based on her modesty, then of course she should try to be as good as possible, right?

If there were less focus on what women were wearing, and more focus on: a) men taking responsibility for their actions
b) spiritual outlets for women
I doubt this would occur. And if women were subjected to less pressure to look a certain way (and assigned value based on compliance), women wouldn't need to use their appearance to try to gain "value".

It's a problematic system.

Batya said...

The trick to not being noticed is to dress like everyone else. These ladies want attention, and they want it now.

Mississippi Fred MacDowell said...

ערביות יוצאות רעולות

Anonymous said...

I was just told by somebody that a person is supposed to follow the standards of the community that they are in. Plus anybody that is that afraid of a man paying attention to them, including their husband, has probably been sexually abused at some point in their past. Does anybody know how many of the women in this "group" were sexually abused either as children or adults?

Yehudhi said...

The irony is that it is Haredi women who are behind this despite their husbands objection and it was Haredi women who caused such a furious campaign against sheitels.

I was there in 2003 for the big blowup and my wife had to deal with the fury of these women.

With the sheitels, they essentially pushed the Rabbis into taking their position on sheitels, namely that one should not wear them.

It is a very interesting display of feminism but don't kid yourself, this is feminism.

Although to be perfectly honest, when in all haredi publications and videos the women are either not shown or their faces are blurred out, It was only a matter of time before some women decided to conceal their faces on the street.

If the Rabbanim are pushed by radical women into mandating this, Judaism will be permanently changed.

Jewish Warrior said...

I went and read the article in Hebrew in Haaretz, and the woman in question above, who the religious court ordered her husband to divorce her, later kidnapped three of her children and went in to hiding.

MetFanMac said...

I've seen one woman wearing this sort of garment in Ramat Beit Shemesh... I thought it was some sort of "Mizrachi" custom. I see now how terribly wrong I was.

He Who remembers said...

Chukei Hagoyim!!!

Anonymous said...

Although it is a crazy "costume",I think this is an escape some frum women may be resorting to from deep desperation in regard to body image from our own set standards of being thin and dressing stylishly provocative. It is also very unnerving (almost degrading)to be a woman near a charedi man who will purposely divert his eyes when speaking to a woman. The pressures on women in both situations are very unhealthy. It's probably easier to not be seen.

backtosources said...

Your points are correct, but misapplied.

Point 1 regarding adopting the customs of the nations applies to illogical practices of idolatrous nations which have no basis in Torah. Many Eastern Orthodox Christian women cover their hair EXACTLY as most religious Jewish women today do. They also give charity, etc... Should we stop these things practices just because they also do them? The fact is that Jewish women HISTORICALLY kept these levels of modesty which you are unfamiliar with, but the practice lessened over time due to the IMMODEST dress of Christian women. Since Islam ADOPTED the traditional JEWISH practice of modesty, these high levels of modesty continued among Jews in Islamic lands up until they came in contact with modern culture... usually upon arrival to the secular state of Israel. There are many such references in Jewish religious writings and in old pictures and paintings. Not everything non-Jews do is forbidden. Why don't you apply this commandment to the traditionally Christian clothing adopted by Charedi men?

Point 2:
This is a very important point you make, which is violated in many ways in ourd ay.. but the issue of burqa is NOT one of them. Wearing of a face-covering is referred to in Talmudic texts and in Jewish law, and it is the way Jewish women outside of Europe traditionally dressed up until recent times, dating back even to BEFORE Islam.

Mishneh Torah in Sefer Nashim in Hilkhoth Ishuth 24:12

"...What is meant by 'the Jewish faith?' It is the practice of modesty that the 'Daughters of Israel' are accustomed to. And these are the things that if she does one of them, she transgresses the 'dath yehudith:'

She goes out to the marketplace or to a passage way with openings at each end while her head is uncovered and without a reh'dheedh [long descending veil] on her as all the women, EVEN THOUGH her hair is covered in a scarf / handkerchief,..."

A covered head is defined in Hilkhoth Avel as having one's head covered AT LEAST up to one's lips. Indeed,we find several references in Midrash that women cover themselves in a way similar to how a Jewish mourner is to cover himself--up to his lips. Now as for point 2 in your article--why do we no longer see most men upholding the decree of Hazal regarding covering his head up to his lips when mourning?

In short, this is NOT a new practice among Jewish women, but rather it is a revival of traditional modesty among Jewish women which has roots going back to Eve, according to Midrash (Pirqe R. El. xiv).

http://sagavyah.tripod.com/id71.html

Anonymous said...

Perhaps these women are at liberty to dress in this fashion. Perhaps they're doing something halachically permitted, or even commanded, although covering the face, last time I checked, wasn't neccessary unless you live in a community (like an yeminite arab one) where everyone's doing that.

What if my husband tunes in and turns on to this latest trend and starts telling me to dress this way or he'll divorce me? (hypothetically, that is)
The point I'm making is: there will come a time where some men will start doing this and where does that leave the women who didn't sign up for this level of tnius?
Instead of criticising in knee-jerk-reaction style, we need to see the larger repercussions of this behavior.
As an Orthodox woman I believe women should dress and conduct themselves in a modest manner accrd'g to halachah, but likewise, accd'g to Rmbm, moderation in all things, lest the extreme behavior of a few should scare away the many who would have otherwise been willing to adhere to the actual letter of the law.

Mindy said...

Back to sources, while I happen to understand the cloaking look, and think that it to be feminine and have always wanted to dress up like that, putting personal fantasies aside, you said that it is said that dat yehidith is to cover one's face up the chin. This is coverng the entire face, and as a commenter names Miriam I believe commented on this once, a woman's face and hands are never supposed to be covered up because her true personality shows through there.

On a personal note: even if I would want to cover up more, or more specifically, wear a cloak and a long hair covering because I personally like the way it feels, (and I really do- and don't get me wrong, I am not a frummie at all), I don;t recommend as a whole standing out from the crowd.

For me it is a struggle, because how much do you allow society to dictate your lifestyle and how much do you allow yourself to do what you really believe in?

And I have to say that I think the women in this particulat case have more of a psychiatric and emotional issue going on then it really being a matter of tsnius. I think that is really the main distinction here and all arguements are really superflous practically.

With that in mind, take a look at the women in this picture:
http://mominisrael.blogspot.com/2007/12/burkas-new-fashion.html
and you will see that the women there look happy and balanced. I would be much more comfortable having a discussion about these women where I feel they are mentally stable and content then with these women who feel they are stumbling blocks to men and have negative, self-destrictive, and self-hating tendencies, as it appears to me.

Meni R said...

well i gotta admit the first time i ever saw anyone walking around looking like that! i was in a VERY ARABIC neighborhood part of LONDON with a co-worker from france, he turns to me and go's (quite loudly and with his frenchy accent) "NINJA TURTLES" coming through WATCH OUT ROFL

Kamagra said...

Last Pesach I saw some women dressed in very wide capes, not like in the picture. i cannot believe that in this place there are drees and women very beautiful.

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