Sunday, November 12, 2006

(Link>) “Out of uniform,” and other stereotype busters

Seen standing in the subway: A young woman in jeans (pants) reading a small but very thick paperback book in Hebrew—while moving her lips. (Traditional Jews move their lips when praying, a custom based on the story of Hannah, found in I Samuel, verses 12-20.) Lest there be any doubt about what she was reading, at one point, she wrapped the book-bearing arm around the pole—and covered her eyes with her free hand. (It’s traditional to cover one’s eyes when reciting the first line of the Sh’ma (“Hear, Israel, Hashem is our G-d, Hashem is one.”)

Scene two, recounted by one of the Israeli bloggers (sorry, forgot which one): Homeowner offers a drink to a skilled trades person after a repair—and the bareheaded tradesman asks for a kippah (yarmulkeh, skullcap) so that he can recite a brachah (blessing, in this case before drinking and/or eating).

Scene three (well, chronologically the earliest of the three scenes): Just before the Yamim/High Holidays, my husband and I attended a concert of Ladino music at Shearith Israel, the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue. Shearith Israel is an Orthodox synagogue. All the singers were female. And the concert was open to men. This is yet more proof that not everyone in the Orthodox community is of the opinion that a woman’s singing voice is too lascivious for a man to listen to.


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