Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Very Belated Update (Re: Marriage)

After receiving an email from the Evolving Jew asking me about it, I realized I never updated this blog with the happenings related to my getting married.

By American law, we are officially married, and have been for a number of months. We never had any ceremony, however -- be it secular or religious. I never did find a way that I could make an Orthodox ceremony work for me, nor did I settle on a non-Orthodox ceremony (really just because it wouldn't make a lick of difference to either of our parents, both sets of whom are Orthodox).

I guess the only reason for our having a ceremony at all is to get our relatives to acknowledge the fact that we're married, which nobody really has. When we visit our families, we stay in separate houses (pretty crazy considering the fact that we are very much adults AND we live together, whether or not they want to acknowledge the validity of a secular marriage). We are super respectful of their traditions when around them and sometimes I just wish that the respect came the other direction, as well.

Since we wouldn't really be having the ceremony for ourselves (we both see ceremony as unnecessary and not something particularly appealing), having anything other than an Orthodox ceremony would be ineffectual, since neither of our parents would recognize it as anything worthwhile. And I cannot and will not just swallow the issues that I have with Orthodox marriage to make other people (even my family) happy.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Chasidim and Sex: Two Questions

This is probably the most risque post I've ever written on this blog. Sex is not usually a topic I cover, but I've been reading this book, Hush by Eishes Chayil (pen name, obviously), and it's raised two questions for me.

#1 - The protagonist is told by her kallah teacher that, prior to sex, she should pull her nightgown up to just above her stomach but no higher than that. I always thought that, halachically, a man and woman are required to have nothing (no articles of clothing) between them when they have sex. Granted, I've never been to a kallah class, but I'm pretty sure this is what was taught in high school/seminary Taharat Hamishpacha class and it's why I always scoffed at the "hole in the sheet" myth -- saying such a thing was actually against halacha. So is it? Or isn't it?

#2 - The protagonist doesn't find out what she is expected to do in the bedroom (i.e., the technicalities of how babies are made) until well into her kallah classes. And then her friend says that the grooms don't find out until the day of the wedding. This can't be accurate? Can this be accurate?

I would usually dismiss all of these things as a lack of knowledge on a well-meaning author's part, but the back of the book claims that this author was raised in the Chasidic world... so she would know, right?

Thanks in advance for answers you may have. My curiosity is really getting the better of me right now. And btw, for anyone's who wants to know, I HIGHLY recommend this book. It is well-written, really sad (in what feels like an important way), and really interesting.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


A strange thing has been happening in my brain. I know I want to find some sort of Jewish community that I feel I fit into. But whenever I find myself with time to explore an option, I opt out of going.

An example: last Friday night I found myself with nothing to do. Now, there's a Renewal synagogue not far from where I live that has Friday night services and a kiddush. Pretty opportune, huh? And yet, I stayed home and watched a movie.

Of course, afterward, I always feel like I should have gone.

I'm not sure if the reticence is coming from fear or laziness or some combination of the two. But it's definitely not productive, that I know for sure.