Jew in the City’s Most Popular Posts of 2017!
2017 has been a record-breaking year for Jew in the City, with our blog posts reaching over half a million unique visitors and our videos reaching over one million, we couldn’t do it without our amazing fans, supporters, readers and followers. Thank you for helping us to make waves in our mission to highlight kiddush Hashem, defy stereotypes, debunk myths and “edu-tain” audiences about observant Jewish life.
Here are our most popular posts of 2017, as well as our most popular posts of all time!
The Top 10 JITC Posts of 2017
When I was 17 years old, I spent the summer studying in Israel. I knew I wanted to be religious, but at that point, didn’t know in which Orthodox sub-group I belonged. There were so many of them! I spent shabbos with a variety of families, including a charedi Sephardic ba’al teshuva family in Jerusalem. I wore the longest skirt and sleeves I had, but I didn’t know, at the time, that my high-healed, strappy, silver sandals with no stockings were not considered modest in such a place.
My desire to only go on vacations where someone else is doing the cooking has limited our ability to travel to a specific number of cities with kosher fare, but how many times can a Jew go to Florida? That’s why I was delighted to learn about the Arlington Hotel in Bethlehem, New Hampshire which is a brand new, year-round luxury boutique hotel. I’ve been to hotels that serve kosher food, but it’s always been for Pesach. So what a treat to be able to book a trip over any weekend that works for my family AND get served delicious chametz food! (Kosher traveler’s heaven!)
I recently published an article on another site about Gal Gadot, which went far more viral than most of my opinion pieces. Of course, there is always dissent to opinion pieces (such being the nature of opinions). In this case, that included two or three readers who found the subject matter simply inappropriate for the site where it appeared. I accept the feedback, recognizing that there are communities with differing sensibilities and things that one community find natural to discuss may be unsuitable for others. It may even be desirable for most of us to strive for loftier topics of conversation. The question is: where’s the line? Is it possible to take this ideal to outrageous extremes? Sadly, such may be the case, as we shall see.
On Friday morning, I opened up Facebook and read that Jared and Ivanka Kushner were going to be flying to the Mideast with President Trump that night on the Jewish Sabbath. A spokesperson for the couple said they had gotten approval to do so from a rabbi. As I read through the comments of several posts, I started noticing the strangest thing: Many people who are not experts in halacha (Jewish law), some not even observant themselves, proclaimed the couple “Sabbath desecraters” and snidely critiqued their obvious lack of observance. However at the same time, I saw several Orthodox rabbis defending Jared and Ivanka’s decision to fly on Shabbos.
Countless stories have been shared of Hasidic Jews who leave their community of origin and become completely secular, but what about those who leave one observant Jewish community behind to find another that is a better fit for them? Project Makom, an initiative of Jew in the City, helps former and questioning charedi Jews find their place in Orthodoxy. To learn more Project Makom visit ProjectMakom.org.
People might often think of Orthodox Jewish women as “barefoot and pregnant,” but probably don’t think of them as “pregnant and running marathons!” Beatie Deutsch, an American-born mother (of now five!) grew up athletic but stopped formal sports activities for many years when she started a family. Then, on a whim a couple years ago, she thought that setting an exercise goal would help her get back into shape. That goal happened to be a marathon, and a love of running blossomed from there.
On mikvah night, my husband leaves me a present. Not every month, not all the time, lest I expect it and no longer appreciate it. He started over twenty years ago when we had just gotten married. I don’t know how he first thought to do it, but it’s so incredibly sweet and wonderful and makes me love him so much. Two or three times a year, as I run out of the house, hair still wet, on my way to that secret, sacred space, a colorful bouquet is set on my seat when I open the car door. Sometimes, it’s a small box that awaits me on the driver’s seat, containing a modest piece of jewelry. We didn’t have the money for anything extravagant for many years and even now that we do, the gift is never over the top. That’s not the point.
Years ago, as I was boarding a plane in Sydney, Australia (after a whirlwind speaking tour), I saw a very hasidic looking man sit next to a woman who was dressed in typical secular summer-wear, and I thought to myself this will never make the news. All the normal and positive things which come out of the hasidic community go unreported and unacknowledged and are essentially unknown to the outside world (including even the Modern Orthodox world!), while all the extreme and crazy stuff gets mentioned again and again.
Dear Jew in the City, When and why did Jewish boys and men start wearing yarmulkes, and are there any circumstances when a yarmulke need not be worn? M.L. Dear M.L., The practice of wearing a yarmulke (kippah in Hebrew) is an ancient tradition that has its roots as a “middas chasiddus” (an act of piety) before becoming accepted as normative practice for Jewish men and boys. There are a number of references to the practice in the Talmud. One of these is Rav Huna the son of Rav Yehoshua, who would not walk four cubits (about six feet) with his head uncovered as a reminder that God’s Presence is always above us (Kiddushin 31a). The word “yarmulke” actually comes from the Aramaic “yarei Malka” – to have “reverence for the King.”
Art Garfunkel once summed up The Sound of Silence as “the inability of people to communicate with each other.” Jew in the City discovered “the sound of silence” of 2017, and in collaboration with The Maccabeats, will show you just how prophetic this nearly 50-year-old song was.
The Top 10 JITC Posts of All Time
I’m not sure what sort of interactions you’ve had with Orthodox Jews, but if you think about it, a dog is the main pet you’d see a person out and about with. So unless you’ve been inside the homes of many religious Jews, you probably wouldn’t know if there was a cat, a bird, or a fish tucked away somewhere. But let’s start with dogs since they’re the most public of pets. When it comes to dogs, there seems to be a range of feelings that people have, from very positive to very negative. Let’s start with the Torah sources, then we’ll talk about history and sociology.
What you’re hinting at is one of the reasons why most Orthodox women don’t wear pants: kli gever – the prohibition for a woman to dress like a man. (Beged isha is the corresponding prohibition on men dressing like women.) It used to be that pants were only worn by men, in the same way that skirts are only worn by women now, so wearing pants was the equivalent of wearing men’s clothing. But you’re right that there are certainly pants out there today that are specifically made for women, so kli gever can’t be the only reason behind skirting pants.
“Why are Jews so rude?” is the second most searched question on Google if you type in “Why are Jews…” (“Why are Jews so smart?” precedes it and “Why are Jews rich?” and “Why are Jews so rich?” follow it!) So Jewish rudeness or Orthodox Jewish rudeness (we are the ones most identifiably Jewish) seems to be on lots of people’s minds. Even the image for this post was found on a stock photo site under “Orthodox Jew;” it seems there are, unfortunately, too many people who think of rudeness (or meanness) when they think of our community. (And honestly, I grew up thinking the same thing!)
Dear Jew in the City, For the Orthodox ladies who wear a wig and claim part of the reason is for modesty, isn’t wearing a wig over hair kind of like wearing a t-shirt with a naked body printed on it? (Sorry for the crude example.) Wouldn’t it be better to cover the hair with a cloth? I know some Orthodox ladies do, and this seems to make more sense to me. Thanks, D.V. Dear D.V., Your question is an excellent one, and I was asked a similar question by a friend who upon hearing that I wore a wig over my hair told me that it was like wearing a prosthetic nose over my nose! His question bothered me for a while. I do NOT like having philosophical quandaries floating around in my head that I don’t know how to answer, so after a bit of thought, I came up with something, and I think it applies to your question as well.