The Conspiracy

“The Rebbetzin” Unveiled (A Bit)

The Rebbetzin wishes to remain anonymous– this is what she will share.

Should a Modern Orthodox woman wear a skirt or pants? Should she eat vegetarian at a non-Kosher restaurant? Should she go to frat parties on Shabbat?

To answer questions like these, one woman, who calls herself “The Rebbetzin,” started a blog a couple weeks ago called Frum in Skinny Jeans.

While “The Rebbetzin” would like to remain anonymous, she was willing to answer a few questions about the blog and her own struggles with Modern Orthodoxy.

New Voices: Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

The Rebbetzin: I’m 24, and I live in New York City. I’m originally from Cleveland. I graduated from Ohio State in 2010, and I moved to New York immediately after for law school.

Why are you set on keeping the blog anonymous?

The only reason I’m so anxious about my name being on the blog is because I’m a law student, and didn’t want to bring that into the blog. I’m graduating in May and starting at a big corporate firm. I’m anxious about keeping my professional life separate.

So why did you decide to start the blog?

I couldn’t sleep one night. You know when you think of something in the middle of the night, and you get up and you’re like I have to write that. In general, over the last few years, this is something that my friends and I talk about so much. Around the Shabbat lunch table. Especially on the Upper West Side. There’s this very observant community that we’re a part of, but we also all wear jeans and go to clubs and go to concerts. And when people ask me to describe myself, I couldn’t honestly say that I’m Conservative. I mean I grew up in a Conservative community, but I’m not anymore. I talk about this all the time. What are we?

My husband was also a big influence. He’s a rabbinical student (I know him from Ramah), and he’s always the one who is pushing me to think about, explore, grow, and discuss my Judaism more.

How did you find your way from a Conservative community into a Modern Orthodox one?

I grew up in the very traditional USY Ramah community. I think that had a lot to do with me ending up as a Modern Orthodox person. Ramah and USY are shomer Shabbat and Kosher. You daven 3 times a day. I got really attached to that stuff at Ramah and when I was older I found it in a Modern Orthodox community. A lot of my friends from Ramah particularly ended up in a more Modern Orthodox community because we got so used to being observant and couldn’t find it in a Conservative community as an adult.

When you did find Modern Orthodoxy, what did you think about the balance of the religious and secular spheres?

There are certain aspects to Orthodox Judaism that are really fulfilling to our lives, that people grow up with and don’t want to give away. I guess Shabbat is the best example. I find being shomer Shabbat really fulfilling. A really big nice part of my life. So when people hit their 20s and 30s, that’s not something people are willing to give up. But people have jobs in secular communities, and people that live in a secular world that really find some fulfillment in an aspect of Orthodox Judaism are doing this balancing act.

What is one of the hardest challenges for you within Modern Orthodoxy?

I think I write about kashrut a lot because I think it bothers me the most, and I struggle with it. I think we each have our personal things that we struggle with. I never had a problem keeping Shabbat, but I always struggle with keeping kashrut. I write a lot about still eating vegetarian out because it bothers me the most, I have so much trouble with it. I think that will probably pop up a lot because it’s one of my biggest issues. I love food so it’s difficult for me.

How often do you hope to post on your blog?

I’m on spring break right now, so I’m just sitting around posting things. After break, it would be great if I could keep it up a couple times a week.

Do you have a favorite post thus far?

I thought the Hadaya one was really silly, but it went viral. That post got like 400 likes.

What do you hope to accomplish with your blog?

I didn’t think about it before I started writing, but I’ve gotten a lot of comments saying “This is so helpful because I feel like I’m in between and this applies to me and nobody ever talks about.” I like that people are finding that the blog is a place to talk, a place that they can relate to in terms of this being something that a lot of Modern Orthodox people think about. If I can get more interaction, more people commenting, tweeting, that would be great.

Have you gotten any negative feedback?

I got a few negative comments, but I love that because at least people are interacting with the blog. There was one comment that I got that I thought was super eloquent and super interesting. She was saying how a lot of the way that I make fun of things and try to be humorous, it sounds like I’m advocating things that the Orthodox community shouldn’t be doing, like eating out or going to parties. So I put the comment on my blog and said that I completely agree with her, but being humorous is a way for me to struggle with my religion. I thought that comment was amazing just because it really made me think. I guess I deal with my religious struggles by joking about them but other people might not. And where I really stand is I’m always trying to move forward with my Judaism. I don’t advocate those things that I do wrong at all.

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