Airing our dirty laundry…here we go again.

The school I went to in my youth is featured in our local paper. And no, the news isn’t flattering, as usual. This school is an orthodox Jewish school. They demanded of the parents to adhere to the basic minimum of modesty rules as put down in the Torah. It is within their rights to do this. There are plenty more schools to choose from if it doesn’t fit your ideologies.

This school was always an ultra-orthodox school. When I was little, we also had to adhere to the same rules. And since the mothers usually dressed modestly this was not applicable. These days the school has attracted a more modern clientèle which prompted my decision to send my daughter to the more ultra-religious girls school. I saw that the atmosphere in that school is not what I want for my daughter.

Instead of sending my daughter there and complaining all day about the lack of modesty in other mothers, I just sent her to a more appropriate school. But it saddened me because I wanted her to go to the same school I went to. The standard of education is high and it was a great school. But what could I do?

But now the school wants to go back to what it once was because they keep on losing girls to the other, more religious school so they started to enforce the minimum of modesty rules which is to cover the hair fully and to not expose some parts of the body. This is nothing extreme (for an ultra-orthodox school). The parents most offended by these rules are the ones calling themselves Modern Orthodox. And you know what? We have a school here for the modern Orthodox where mothers go hair uncovered, wear short skirts or sleeves and go with pants. I don’t judge anyone who walks around like this but why get angry if a school enforces their rules? You have the option of sending your kid to the school that better fits you. Especially if there IS a school for parents like you.

But my rant is about the media. Someone influential in our community keeps sharing all our dirty laundry on Facebook. One of his FB friends is a reporter for the local non-Jewish newspaper. He is having a field day with this.

Of course, the next day he published the article. I do understand that it’s extremely hard for an outsider to understand our culture. You might not appreciate why we have the rules of modesty. I can bring you all the points about why we think modesty is beautiful and beauty is on the inside and all that but that here is not the point.

The point is, why write about us? What do you accomplish (besides getting views and readers) besides disseminating more hate and antisemitism? I don’t read the comments anymore because they just cause me to cry. These are internal matters and don’t concern anyone on the outside. We don’t ask any non-Jew to conform to our laws (unless you work in our school) so why should it matter to you?

I do not understand some Muslim laws for example but I believe in live and let live and not mixing into their business. If this issue impacts world peace or any other such important thing, report away. But what this school demands of the parents sending their kids there is not newsworthy.

I feel violated. I feel personally attacked. Let’s see this newspaper report on everyone’s dirty laundry (including Muslims who everyone is scared to offend) and not only on us orthodox Jews. I don’t usually rant like this but this really got me riled up. The media are like hungry wolves waiting for us to trip up so they can gleefully report and making us look and sound horrible, all in the name of sensationalism / Journalism.

19 thoughts on “Airing our dirty laundry…here we go again.”

  • I know nothing about this, but a have a better idea. I could see that would be very annoying. Especially if there are plenty of place to pick from, that would be better. First rant or not, I think it went great.

  • You were spot on when you asked,”What do you accomplish (besides getting views and readers)…” That is exactly the reporters job, to get views and readers. Please understand that I agree with you. There should be morals and ethics beyond GET READERS. The internal business of your community does not belong in the secular newspaper where readers can’t begin to understand Orthodox teachings and traditions. But, I am guessing that reporters search for SEO key words just like a blogger. AND I am guessing that all kinds of hate terms, antisemitic terms, and sensationalism terms get great SEO! Would it be newsworthy if the local Catholic school started cracking down on their rules for girls’ uniform skirt length? Oh, yeah, the Catholic schools do that, but no body cares to read about it!

    • Exactly!! We are always singled out and it gets on my nerves! Leave us in peace! It’s also the fault of this community member who takes great pleasure in publicizing all this knowing he has a reporter between his FB friends :/

      • Anything “different” causes curiosity (and often irrational fear/hatred). Curiosity sells newspapers. In the US “different” is anything outside of the standard Christian tradition. Anything else is “cultish” and worthy of disdain. It is so unpleasant when a simple matter like private school dress code can cause such negative press and community discord. I hope it settles down quickly for you! 🙂

  • This is exactly where a blog, such as your own, becomes a useful tool. If this reporter is painting this as a negative situation in the ultra orthodox community, speaking the truth is your greatest defense. Each person should be free to choose, and one person’s choice is no better or worse than another. But if a private school has rules, and a specific dress code, it should be followed.

  • I never knew that as an orthodox Jew you had to cover your hair, how very interesting. I love the finer points of religion as I do not realise how each religion differs.
    Which is the point. Everything differs. And if you are orthodox then you stand by orthodox rules, be you Jewish, Catholic, Muslim, Hindu. Those are your beliefs and people should respect that. I think the key here is the word RESPECT. And if a school is ultra orthodox then the parents should respect that and obey by the rules if they send their children there.
    Thanks for linking with #effitfriday

  • I will never understand why it is so difficult for some people to let others learn/practice their religion/breathe in peace. Oh no…the school wants to make sure that everyone upholds their dress code policy and belief system…unbelievable! 😉
    Also, I’ve never heard of ultra orthodox. Thank you for the education!

  • It’s good to know your limits, and make the best choices for your family! Although my family is different, I had so many sleepless nights (make that months, OK, years) as to what school to send my son to because he has Down syndrome (he’s ten now and I have grey hair)! HA! I could write a book just on that topic alone! So, I guess we have “sleepless” nights in common, LOL!

  • The trouble is – and I’m surprised you don’t see this – that what you do as an adult by choice is not the same as they way you train your children, and in all kinds of ways, children belong to everyone, not just you and your community. Children are full of curiosity and these schools – which in fact, are very similar to the way Muslim religious schools are run – do not allow the children to explore and grow freely.
    They are exposed only to a fixed ideaology, before they know that there are other choices. So sorry – I can easily see why this excites comment in newspapers – as – in another context – do Amish traditions.
    It shows a certain fear not to allow your children to explore the WHOLE WORLD – and if they have to suffer some predjudice, that is only how society works.
    Religious teaching is done just as well in the cheder system, or the extra curricular schools that many religions set up for their congregations.
    One London Jewish community I’d never heard of before, hit the headlines recently because they banned women from driving – how silly – we all deplore the bans on women driving in Saudi Arabia – if you truly believe that women should not drive, you deserve the derision in my book.
    So, sorry, in this instance, I cannot agree with you.

    • Thanks for your comments julz 🙂 I allow anyone to disagree 🙂
      But here were not even talking about the kids. We’re talking about parents to respect the basics of Jewish modesty rules when they bring their kids to school. The school didn’t even ask to dress like that when they’re not around school premises. So I think they’re fully in their right here. Anyway, things have calmed down now here as all things usually do 🙂

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