The Conspiracy

Haredi Jews vs. the Internet; formerly ‘frum’ and looking for love; and more. [Required Reading]

Clashes between the Ultra-Orthodox and modernity continue. | Photo by Flickr user jon.lai.yexian (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Off the path, on the prowl [Slate]

This might be the most fascinating article about former Orthodox Jews learning to navigate the complicated waters of love, lust, and being around… “the rest of us.” (Plus, the title is a winner; just click and see what we mean.) Meet Israel Irenstein, coach to the socially awkward, no-longer-frum.

“Having grown up in Israel and Brooklyn, Irenstein landed in secular New York with a third-grade-level education and a mediocre grasp of English. When he and his wife divorced, he found himself on foreign ground. ‘I had no idea how to talk to women,’ he says. ‘I’d never even looked one in the eye.’ Irenstein’s former Hasidic community, Gur, is one of the strictest sects, as well as one of the most sexually squeamish. Even married couples aren’t supposed to kiss, and they’re allowed sex only for purposes of procreation.

Frustrated by his own cluelessness, Irenstein turned to pick-up artists and dating coaches, including New York Dating Coach, as well as to self-help books, Tony Robbins’ confidence-building seminars, and therapy. He was less interested in learning pickup lines and routines than he was in retraining his brain; he wanted to project self-confidence. Today, that’s what he teaches—that if you feel good about yourself, you’ll have an easier time with the opposite sex. It sounds basic, but to many OTD’ers, it’s not.”

In mourning for house-pets [Forward]

Animals are a huge part of life for so many of us. But when death, the inevitable end of all life, comes to claim a beloved pet, how do we as Jews honor the important role our favorite animals have played for us, without trivializing Jewish mourning rites? Karen Iris Tucker writes:

“As a former yeshiva girl who instinctively turns to Jewish tradition for comfort in trying times, I found Enkin’s comments unsatisfying. There is, after all, a clear legacy of compassion for animals in the Torah. Deuteronomy tells us that a person is required to feed his animals before himself, and that one is obligated to relieve an animal’s suffering. The Talmud provides the precept of tza’ar ba’alei chaim — that it is prohibited to cause pain to animals. The term nefesh chaya, a living soul, was applied in Genesis to animals as well as to people.

Seeking continuity from where these laws leave off, I ultimately found that it is mostly Reform and Conservative rabbis who give more credence to the desire to mourn pets in a way that is distinctly Jewish.”

Haredim to rally against Internet dangers, according to thing I read on the Internet [JTA]

This is so going to turn into a meme. As usual, take it away, JTA!

“Tens of thousands are expected to gather for a May 20 rally at Citi Field, the Mets’ baseball stadium in Queens. The Hebrew-language Jewish Daily News reported that $1.5 million has been raised so far from donors to pay for the event.


A statement has been published in Haredi Orthodox newspapers promoting the event, and ads promoting the rally have run in American haredi newspapers.

‘It is well known that in recent times that through the Internet many serious family-related problems have been created, and it all happens because of it, and something must be done so they won’t be hurt,’ the statement said, according to The Jewish Press. ‘And since this touches almost everyone, we must assemble together to protect and be protected, and we hope that through this gathering in search of ideas we will be helped from Heaven to save the many, and may it be that we will be successful in encouraging the public not to stumble over this obstacle, and the Lord will guide us in a truthful path.'”

Pics or it didn’t happen, guys, k? LOL!

Modesty Guard, forward march! [Haaretz]
Look. This is getting ridiculous. In yet another instance of targeting women for their alleged “immodesty,” a woman in Jerusalem has received a letter asking her to leave her neighborhood for violating somebody else’s modesty standards (shocking, right?). Because apparently if you can’t persuade them, sending them ominous letters is the “logical” next step for these guys. Haaretz reports:

“R., who classified herself as belonging to the ‘Masorti’ movement, has been living with her two small children in the central Jerusalem neighborhood of Mahane Israel for seven months. She says the haredi nature of the neighborhood was unbeknownst to her when she moved there, but until today has enjoyed peaceful relations with her neighbors.

‘I came back from America and needed an apartment urgently,’ said R., ‘That’s how I got here.’ She added that she is not a malicious person, and has no desire to stir up anyone. ‘I do wear pants, but not short ones,’ she explained.

But, on Thursday, R. received a letter demanding she leave the neighborhood immediately, for having transgressed the Jewish laws of modesty:

‘[I]t will not happen here any longer. We are requesting you leave our neighborhood for having crossed the limits of the Torah of Israel and modesty in our neighborhood. We ask that you leave our neighborhood immediately. [Signed,] The Modesty Guard.’ At the end of the letter were the words, ‘This is a first and final warning.'”

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