Stereotyping religious girls

6 bNissan
If you saw the following headline in the Jerusalem Post, what do you think the article would say?
(Don’t go and look at the article yet; that’s not fair.)

“Thin is not a mitzvah for religious girls”

In my next posting I will explain why I thought this is worth a comment. But first I want to see what the headline conjures up in your minds. Maybe even write a short imaginary article that would match this title.

Shira Schmidt

Shira Leibowitz Schmidt was raised in an assimilated Jewish home in New York, and became observant while studying at Stanford University in California. In June 1967 she told her engineering school professor she would miss the final exam because she was going to Israel to volunteer during the Six Day War. “That’s the most original excuse I have ever been offered,” he responded. She arrived during the war and stayed, receiving her BSc in absentia. She subsequently met and married the late Elhanan Leibowitz, and they raised their six children in Beersheba. Mrs. Leibowitz acquired a Masters in Urban & Regional Planning from the Technion, and an MSc in Civil Engineering from University of Waterloo. Today she lives with her husband, Dr. Baruch Schmidt, in Netanya. She co-authored, with Nobel prize-winning chemist Roald Hoffmann, Old Wine New Flasks. She has co-translated from Hebrew to English (with Jessica Setbon) From the Depths (the autobiography of Rabbi Israel Meir Lau); The Forgotten Memoirs (memoirs of Rabbis who survived the Shoah, edited by Esther Farbstein); and Rest of the Dove (Parashat Hashavua by Rabbi Haim Sabato). She and her husband appear in the documentary film about the Sanz-Klausenberger Rebbe, “Hidden Face.” She is available to lecture in Israel and in the US and can be contacted via

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13 Responses

  1. Michoel says:

    I would think it is an article about how some Orthodox group is addressing the problem of eating disorders in the frum community.

  2. Tzvi says:

    I read the article a few days ago and I thought it was favorable. In fact I thought it was something I might read on this blog.
    The title itself doesn’t suggest anything to me, I am curious what other reader will write.

  3. ralphie says:

    I was going to go with eating disorders, but I admit it looks like it could be about obesity. (wait – does that count as an eating disorder?)

  4. Amanda Rush says:

    Without having read the article, I would think it deals with either obesity in the Orthodox community, specifically focusing on teenage girls, or I would think, as one commentor commented above, that it focuses on eating disorders within that same community and age range.

  5. Edvallace says:

    Likely an article about the lack of emphasis on being wafer-thin in the ortho community. How it’s presented [i.e. in a positive or negative sense] is anyones guess but I wouldn’t be surprised if its positive because it could have been phrased differently if it was negative.] Tell us please when we can open our eyes :>)

  6. Harry Maryles says:

    I think it is an artilce about anorexia nervosa and its kissing cousin bulemia that exists in the Charedi world that is probably quite hidden from view.

  7. SephardiLady says:

    My guess is that either it is an article about eating disorders that are all too prevelant, or it is another article about poverty and the lack of food. Now, I’m off to search for the article.

  8. Aryeh says:

    It refers to passive/active resistance to expulsions like the one from Amona.

  9. Steve Brizel says:

    I would also think that it referred to eating disorders-something that affects adolescent girls in all sectors of the frum world.

  10. Elyse says:

    Some interviews with charedi girls who feel pressured because they don’t have naturally thin body types.

  11. Rav 5 says:

    I would assume that it is about how the frum are unattractive and frumpy, indifferent to their appearance, and how frum women are aspire only to being barefoot and pregnant for the rest of their lives, chattel (or more likely cattle) with no sense of self respect.

  12. charedilite says:

    It conjures up the lightbulb joke- How many girls does it take to change a lightbulb at (fill in the name of a girls seminary).

    Answer: “Lightbulb? I thought it was a cupcake.”

  13. charedilite says:

    Seriously- Thin is not a mitzvah, so frum girls are less likely to obsess about being thin. (Maybe the emphasis on tznius minimizes the need to emulate the emaciated look.)

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