Added: Anastasia Schmidt - Date: 16.09.2021 17:57 - Views: 10557 - Clicks: 6565
Single Orthodox women want to talk about their relationships but are held back by shame and stigma. Some of them are shomer negiah refraining from engaging in physical contact with members of the opposite sex until marriagewhile some are not — holding hands, kissing and having sex. Many publicly identify as shomer negiah but engage in some sort of physical intimacy with their partners behind closed doors.
Nearly Orthodox jewish dating rules the women I spoke with admitted to hiding the sexual aspects of their relationship and lying to friends, family and sometimes even doctors about their sexual practices. The Modern Orthodox community, which I grew up in, is raising our young women to be ashamed of Orthodox jewish dating rules sexuality.
We are teaching students to be shomer negiah while ignoring that many of them are, in fact, engaging in sexual relationships before marriage. By actively avoiding conversations around sex, we tell our young people that sex is taboo, shameful and immoral. But within Jewish law and tradition, sex is holy and valued in the correct place and time. So why are we are discouraging young people from having normal and healthy conversations about relationships, physical intimacy and sexuality, and instead breeding a culture of secrecy and shame?
The women I spoke with were, for the most part, faithful, proud, practicing members of the Modern Orthodox community and were committed to Jewish law. They all identified Judaism as the core of their identity and value system. Their Jewish observance was treasured and genuine, and they tried to find ways to fulfill their sexual desires within the framework of Jewish law wherever possible.
Even with the rise of women in Jewish leadership positions, stigma and fear remain. Many of those I interviewed mentioned being uncomfortable in their quasi-shomer relationships. There are real, dire consequences to this.
For many, even being in a fulfilling and consensual sexual relationship le to guilt over breaking Jewish law. Without someone in the religious community to help relieve this tension, religious women are faced with two choices: continue to let the dissonance and guilt grow, or distance themselves from religion and the religious community. Eliana was at the early stages of this dissonance when I spoke with her. She had recently become physically intimate with someone she was dating, but was deeply uncomfortable with it. It is at precisely this moment when Eliana would benefit from the counsel of the Jewish community.
She wants to know what options are available to her and what the consequences for various sexual actions Orthodox jewish dating rules according to Jewish law so that she can find a path forward that best meets her sexual, emotional and religious needs.
But rather than engaging in this conversation, Orthodox jewish dating rules tell our young people that touching someone of the opposite sex is forbidden before marriage, end of discussion. We teach our children the intricate details of keeping kosher and Shabbat starting in preschool, but throughout plus years of day school education, we barely skim the surface of the Jewish laws on sexual relations and identity.
I vividly remember sitting in my Jewish Identity class in my Modern Orthodox high school, when a classmate asked whether or not someone should go to the mikveh ritual bath if they were to have premarital sex. I was eager to see how our teacher would respond to this student, who was so clearly struggling to unite her sexual and Jewish identities. Thus I was disappointed, but not at all surprised, when the teacher responded that the question was irrelevant since we would not be engaging in premarital sex.
It is time for this to change. It is time that we normalize conversations around physical relationships and pre-marital sex in our community. We have an obligation to teach our children to uphold Jewish law to the highest standard while also helping them Orthodox jewish dating rules healthy decisions. We need to develop and teach healthy relationships and sexuality courses in our day schools. We need to open mikvehs for all women regardless of marital status. We need to make women religious leaders more accessible to both married and unmarried women who have questions about niddah mentrual purity.
Young people should feel good about their relationships and be eager to trade stories and ask for advice from friends. They should feel comfortable asking religious authorities and doctors questions about their sexual behaviors and having open and honest discussions with their partners. The Modern Orthodox community is just starting to have these conversations and make these changes.
We owe it to Eliana, and to all of the young Orthodox women in our community, to have open conversations about sexual health and Jewish law so that we can strip away the guilt and build relationships on trust, communication and Jewish values. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of JTA or its parent company, 70 Faces Media. Tags sexual education Sexuality Modern Orthodox. Subscribe for our daily newsletter.
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