Is “Sex and the City” treyf?

Dear Jew in the City,

This may seem like a very odd question, however is it deemed immodest for a modern Orthodox Jew to go to the cinema to watch films like “Sex and the City”?

Kind Regards,
Matt

Hi Matt-

It’s not such an odd question, but it’s actually a little bit complicated because I’m not sure how you’re asking it exactly.

Here’s what I mean. When you ask “is it deemed immodest for a modern Orthodox Jew to __________?” – and then fill in the blank with anything immodest – according to Jewish law, if something is considered immodest for a modern Orthodox Jew, it’s also considered immodest for a secular Jew, and ultra Orthodox Jew, a Reform Jew, etc. Basically, if we’re speaking in terms of halacha (Jewish law), the personal affiliation of a particular Jew doesn’t change the definition of immodesty.

But if the question is: does Jewish law consider a movie like “SATC” to be immodest, while I’m not a posek (halachic authority), the answer is quite certainly “yes”. I haven’t seen it myself, but I like to use the site kids-in-mind.com which tells you what kind of violence/sex/nudity/language is in movies to gauge them before seeing them.

Now, if you want to know how much and what kinds of on-screen forms of affection make a movie treyf (i.e. less explicit than SATC), I’d say talk to your LOR (local Orthodox rabbi) about that one, as there are probably a range of opinions, although, my general rule is, if ya wouldn’t want to watch with your mom in the room, you probably shouldn’t be watching it without her either!

Also, I want to make a point about sexuality within Judaism since there are a lot of misunderstandings. People assume that Orthodox Jews are sexually repressed simply because they publicly conduct themselves in a modest way, but behaving modestly in public does not preclude a husband and wife from enjoying each other in private – it just means that certain things are not meant for public consumption.

Judaism believes that a person should very much be in the world and encourages people to enjoy things like food, wine, and sex. They were all created for a reason. However, according to Jewish thought, these bodily experiences exist to not only be appreciated on a physical level, but on a spiritual level as well. (And I think pretty much everyone would agree that there’s not much in the way of spirituality to be gleaned from movies like “SATC”!)

All the best,

Allison

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  1. I totally agree with your take on the subject. In fact, as much as I appreciate and support the important work you do, I’ve often wondered why you chose as your “title” a twist or takeoff of SITC. Doesn’t jive with the mission. Thoughts?

    • Allison Josephs Allison Josephs says:

      Jew in the City has no connection to Sex AND the City. Jew IN the City came about after I saw a YouTube show called “LonelyGirl15” who was a 16 year old girl telling the world about her strict parents, the boy she liked, how much homework she had. And I saw that through the medium of YouTubr people were getting to “know” her, feeling connected to her and I realized if I created an Orthodox character like that, I could “introduce” a nice, normal Orthodox Jewish woman to the world. And I said to myself, “If she’s a lonely girl who’s 15, what am I?” And I realized that I was a “Jew in the City,” hence the name.

      I see now that people confuse it, but it was never my intention.

  2. Thanks for taking the time to clarify that! I’m relieved to hear it. 😉 Rock on.

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