Why Do Hasidic Jews Carry Plastic Bags?

Why Do Hasidic Jews Carry Plastic Bags

Do Hasidic couples sleep in separate beds?

March 15, 2018 Hasidic marital purity laws – Posted at 11:55h in Artifacts, Gender, Marriage A reader asks: Why do Hasidic couples sleep in separate beds? Answer: Because of the laws of niddah, which prohibit the couple from being together from the moment the wife has uterine bleeding until she completes a ritual bath immersion.

  1. Before Hasidic couples wed, they are taught about the following Orthodox family purity laws.
  2. The laws are to be observed throughout the entire marriage, and they revolve around the woman’s menstrual cycle/periods of bleeding.
  3. During the time of bleeding, the woman is considered impure, and the husband and wife must take care not to have any intimate contact.

After her period has finished, the woman is made pure again through a bath immersion process in a special pool called a mikvah, Then the couple can be intimate again. You might think that this would be a monthly process for every Hasidic couple, but it is less frequent because pregnancy and breastfeeding disrupt the menstrual cycle and allow the woman to be clean for longer stretches. When a Hasidic woman has her period, her husband can’t come into her bed. In fact, he can’t touch her, pass anything directly into her hands, or even have a conversation that would lead to arousal. She is then a niddah— she is unclean. After her period passes, she needs to count seven days of no bleeding. If seven white days pass and all is well, the woman will go to the community mikvah /ritual bath. The mikvah house is usually an elegant but unmarked bathhouse (so the kids don’t know about it, as it’s related to the naughty birds and bees). Inside, the place is comprised of lines of tiles hallways with private bathrooms for each woman to clean up, thoroughly, in preparation for entering the mikvah, In the Hasidic mikvah I went to, they hung a sign reminding us of all the places to clean before we are ready for immersion. I took one home (ehrm, I just did!) and photographed it. On the list of things to remember is to wash the neck, face, clean the nose, and take out dentures and contact lenses. When all the cleaning preparation is done, say in about an hour or so, the woman presses a button to summon the attendant. You can press four buttons: emergency, ready for inspection, ready to go down, and all done. The first time the woman is ready she presses “ready for inspection,” and the attendant comes to make sure her hair (or shaven head ) and nails are prepared correctly. The attendant then returns and escorts the patron to the mikvah, At the end of each hallway there will be the mikvah itself, which is pretty much a pool of well water. This is where the important immersion takes place. The woman must be naked, free of anything stuck to her body, and she must go under the water at least three times. Mikvah with the prayer After the woman finishes with the ritual immersion—about a two-hour affair—she goes home, and her husband is permitted to join her in her bed. They can now be “together.” I was told before I got married never to go into my husband’s bed.

  • This was because the man may come to associate his bed with arousal and feel this excitement even during the period of menstruation and separation.
  • So the husband is always to congregate on the wife’s bed, but only if she has gone through the purification process in the bathhouse.
  • And if the couple wants to be frivolous when they are allowed to be with each other, they can not only have sexual congress but also stay in the wife’s bed to sleep the night together! Oh la la,

Assuming there are no babies wailing and the bed isn’t so narrow that one of them falls off in their sleep. Bonus: some of my old cartoons: Related: Transcript of a Hasidic groom’s wedding night lesson The Get (religious divorce) Premarital genetic testing in insular communities Mysteries of the Newlywed Couple’s Room

Why do Orthodox couples sleep in separate beds?

Hassidic Jewish couples avoid physical contact when the woman is having her period. So they often sleep in separate beds for some of the time, and in the same bed for some of the time.

Why do Jews wear a box?

Tefillin – Tefillin © Tefillin (sometimes called phylacteries) are cubic black leather boxes with leather straps that Orthodox Jewish men wear on their head and their arm during weekday morning prayer. Observant Jews consider wearing tefillin to be a very great mitzvah (command).

The boxes contain four hand-written texts from the Bible, in which believers are commanded to wear certain words on the hand and between the eyes. The texts are Exodus 13:1-10, 13:11-16; Deuteronomy 6:4-9, 11:12-21. The hand tefillin has all four texts written on a single parchment strip but the head tefillin has four separate compartments, with a single text in each.

Jewish men start wearing tefillin just before their Bar Mitzvah. As with all ritual objects there are very specific rules about how to make tefillin, and how to wear them.

How do the Hasidic community make money?

How Hasidic Jews make money – Hasidic Jews make money through businesses, working in professions such as teaching and healthcare, and receiving stipends for studying in Kollel. Some may also receive support from family or the community during their time in Yeshiva. Additionally, the Hasidic community’s conservative lifestyle and a strong emphasis on charitable giving can lower living costs.

Are condoms allowed in Judaism?

Almost all Jewish authorities would permit the use of condoms to protect against sexually transmitted infections. Unlike some faith traditions which view abortion as murder, Jewish law does not consider abortion as such because the fetus is not considered a ‘life’ or a ‘person’ with independent rights.

At what age do Hasidic girls marry?

Answers to Questions About Hasidic Love and Sex That You Were Afraid to Ask Answers to Questions About Hasidic Love and Sex That You Were Afraid to Ask In Firsthand doc, Rabbi Yisroel Bernath, otherwise known as the “Love Rabbi,” takes us on a journey through love and marriage in the Orthodox Jewish world.

  • We meet a Hasidic couple who married just weeks after they met and now must work out their ultimate compatibility (while raising a toddler).
  • And we follow a single, orthodox hip-hop artist’s search for the perfect partner, fuelled by his family’s anxiety that he start a family before it’s too late.
  • How do the ancient marital customs practiced by Hasidic Jews work in the modern world? The Love Rabbi has the answers to your burning questions.

Is there any truth to the old story that orthodox Jews have sex through a hole in a sheet? No. It’s the most widespread myth about Orthodox Jews. The Talmud (like a Jewish bible) mandates that sex must be done completely naked. Why Do Hasidic Jews Carry Plastic Bags The tallit sheet The myth may originate from the “tallit katan” — a very wide rectangular shawl with four pattern knotted strings (called tzitzit) hanging from each corner. Ultra-Orthodox Jews wear a small tallit under their shirts for the entire day with the strings hanging out on the sides of the pants.

To make the garment simple, they cut a hole in the sheet to put their heads through. Cleanliness is a big thing in Judaism, so they wash their tallit. Non-Jews in old Eastern European villages would see large “sheets” hanging from the clothesline to dry. The “sheet” had a hole in the middle, and active imaginations made up the rest.

What is the traditional age for marriage? In the Ultra-Orthodox/Hasidic community, boys will traditionally get married between 21 and 25 years of age, after they’ve finished their education at a Yeshiva (basically a seminary). Girls will get married anywhere between 18-20 years of age.

  1. How old is too old to get married for the first time? Never.
  2. Yet the Hasidic community hopes that boys will be married by 25 and girls by 21.
  3. Those who don’t find their “Beshert” (soulmate) by that time keep on trying until they find a partner with whom they click.
  4. What about divorce? How often does it happen, and how does it happen? In the Orthodox world, the divorce rate is around 15 per cent, far less than the mainstream.

The rate is low for a variety of reasons, but it is surely due in large part to living in a small community where everyone knows each other. It incentivizes people to try harder. You may get divorced, though. Is remarriage possible? Yes, and it is encouraged.

  1. How important is virginity before marriage? Very.
  2. Sex is only permissible within the context of a marriage.
  3. What are the rules around women and menstruation? The Torah says to count seven days of your cycle, but the Rabbis say to count five days of your cycle followed by seven days of no bleeding to make it twelve.

An average woman ovulates on – you guessed it – Day 12 of her menstrual cycle. So mikvah visits (see below) on Day 12 coincide with optimal days to get pregnant which was typically expected of married couples for most of history. Most observant women refrain from sex and many refrain from any and all physical contact with their husbands (even non-sexual touching or sleeping in the same bed!) for those 12 days.

What is a mikvah? After nightfall on the twelfth day after their period, Jewish women visit a mikvah, a ritual bath. Seven steps (to symbolize the seven days of creation) lead them into what is essentially a jacuzzi. There, they immerse themselves, recite a brief blessing, then immerse again. The mikvah attendant says ‘kosher’ after each immersion to let them know that they’re fully submerged.

After this process, Jewish women are considered “taharah” or clean. Many Jewish women find it a transformative and spiritually fulfilling tool to facilitate intimacy in their marriage. Throughout Jewish history, women have risked their lives to immerse in secret.

Is it a sin to sleep in the same bed if not married?

Sleeping in the same bed is not really the issue, just as it is not a sin for a father to sleep in the same bed as his daughter. However, any intimate intentions towards an unmarried partner is fornication. If there is likelihood of temptation or lust, it is then wise to keep separate until marriage takes place.

Should married couples sleep together every night?

Sleeping Together Is Good for Partners, But It Isn’t Everything – Research by scientists like Troxel has shown that sleeping together in bed for at least some portion of the night can have positive benefits for long-term relationship health (and even individual physical health).

It’s not a golden ticket to a happy relationship, though. Sleep is key to our long-term physical health and our emotional wellness, so if you’re not sleeping well alongside your partner, you shouldn’t hesitate to find another solution. Whether you are struggling to sleep together due to snoring or simply a difference in your natural sleep schedules, you don’t have to torture yourself by lying awake next to your snoozing partner.

Give them a goodnight kiss, tuck them into bed, and head out to the living room to catch up on your book, guilt-free. Plus, not all of your cuddling time must be in bed — especially if you and your partner sleep with your pets, Other bonding activities that can increase taking a bath together, going stargazing, or even exercising, Why Do Hasidic Jews Carry Plastic Bags Casey O’Brien is an award-winning journalist and content creator with a focus on health, justice, and sustainability, based in Oakland, California. She has been published by both regional and national outlets including the Revelator, Re.Wire News, Wellness Lounge Magazine, Sierra Magazine, and many others.

Is it a sin to sleep in separate rooms?

Is sleeping apart a sin? – No, having separate bedrooms is not a sin. In various cultures and eras, separate bedrooms were used by husband and wife, including men and women in the Bible. One example is Genesis 31:33: ” So Laban went into Jacob’s tent and into Leah’s tent and into the tent of the two female servants, but he found nothing.

Why did Jews cover mirrors?

Within our diverse Jewish community, Jews observe many different Jewish rituals and mourning practices, some dating back thousands of years, some more recent in origin (see here for some newer rituals). Observances also vary from place to place and from family to family.

It is not our intention to prescribe what anyone should or should not do. Rather, it is our hope that sharing information about Jewish rituals and practices will help you as you grieve the death of your loved one. A rabbi or cantor can help you learn more as you decide which rituals and practices you wish to observe.

Jewish tradition defines several stages of mourning: Aninut is the period from the moment of death until the burial.

In Jewish life we say many blessings. Upon hearing the news of a death, the classic blessing is Baruch Ata Adonai, Eloheinu Melech HaOlam, Dayan HaEmet, Blessed are you God, King of the Universe, the True Judge. This recitation is our first step to acknowledge the person has died. Sometimes this prayer is recited at the start of the funeral. Judaism teaches that honor, respect and caring for a person who has died is one of the greatest mitzvot (commandments). It is Jewish practice to bury the deceased as quickly as possible to provide comfort for their soul and expedite the person’s journey to the Next World. It also allows the mourning process for the survivor to begin. According to Jewish tradition, a mourner is the son, daughter, sister, brother, mother, father, or spouse of the deceased. From the moment of death until the burial, each of these immediate relatives is considered an onen, with responsibilities only to attend to the practical necessities of arranging for the funeral.

back to top The Funeral

Jewish funerals generally take place as soon after death as possible. If you wish, the funeral director can instruct a Sacred Burial Society ( hevra kaddisha ) to prepare the body for burial, performing a ritual purification ( tahara ) and dressing the body in shrouds. This last act of caring is called a chesed shel emet, an ultimate kindness, that cannot be repaid. Families who wish to consider cremation can speak with their rabbi or Jewish funeral director for guidance. The funeral service can be held at a synagogue or funeral home, followed by burial at the cemetery. Some mourners choose to hold the funeral in the cemetery beside the grave. Your rabbi, cantor and/or family members may share eulogies, poems and/or other readings, as well as the El Maleh Rahamim (God Full of Compassion) prayer and other liturgy. Mourners traditionally tear their clothing or tear a small piece of black cloth provided by the rabbi or funeral director while reciting Baruch Dayan Emet, God is the True Judge. This symbolic tearing represents the end of the physical relationship between the mourner and their loved one, while emotional and/or spiritual relationships continue. If the funeral is held in a synagogue or funeral home, pallbearers escort the deceased from the funeral to the hearse and then from the hearse to the grave upon arriving at the cemetery. It is customary for mourners to shovel earth into the open grave after the casket is lowered. According to one custom, mourners use the back of the shovel at first, to demonstrate reluctance and that the shovel is not being used for its usual constructive purpose. In some communities, each mourner replaces the shovel back in the earth rather than hand it directly to the next person; others find it comforting to give the spade to the next person, acknowledging the shared nature of the task. In the Chicago area, most cemeteries require a concrete vault in the grave.

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back to top Shiva, meaning “seven” in Hebrew, is the week of mourning following the funeral.

Traditionally shiva is observed for seven days, with a pause for Shabbat (the Sabbath, from sundown Friday until nightfall Saturday). Some mourners choose to observe shiva for a shorter number of days. S hiva may be shortened with the onset of some Jewish holidays. A rabbi or cantor can guide you on the number of days to sit shiva and guide you in designating specific times for members of the community to visit and offer condolences. When families live in different communities, they may choose to sit shiva all together in the same place, sit shiva together in alternating locations, or sit shiva separately in their own communities. Families may also wish to designate one or more times for shiva on a video conference platform like Zoom or GoogleMeet in order to be comforted by family and friends who cannot be present in person. A meal for the mourners is often provided upon their return from the cemetery. The meal usually includes food that are round such as bagels or rolls and hard-boiled eggs. These foods symbolize the cycle of life. The meal is typically prepared by someone other than the mourners themselves. It is customary to place a pitcher of water, a bowl, and towels outside the door of the house on the first day of shiva for a ritual hand washing for those coming from the cemetery. Jewish funeral homes will provide a memorial candle to be lit at the start of shiva, This candle is large enough to remain burning for the entire week. Unlike candles lit at the start of Shabbat and Jewish holidays, there is no blessing recited when the memorial candle is lit. Religious services are frequently held in the house of mourning during shiva, allowing mourners to acknowledge their grief and recite the Mourner’s Kaddish, a prayer affirming God’s presence in the world. During shiva, many Jewish mourners refrain from haircuts, shaving, laundry, washing/grooming and wearing leather shoes. They may cover the mirrors in their homes as a reminder that the focus is on their mourning and not their appearance. Some mourners may refrain from entertainment on computers, television and the radio, reflecting that shiva is not “business as usual”, but a time to allow oneself to grieve with the support of the community, while others find music and other forms of entertainment to be comforting. While receiving visitors, mourners may be sit on special chairs or other seating that is lower than usual. This is yet another graphic reflection of the low feelings present within those who are bereaved. Some mourners welcome hearing and sharing stories and anecdotes about their loved one. These stories can be shared over the course of shiva and into the weeks and months beyond. As family and friends leave shiva, they may offer these words of comfort to the mourners, hamakom yinachem et-chem b’toch sh’ar avelei tzion v’yerushalayim (may you be comforted among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem). You may ask a friend to print out these traditional words of comfort, as making the language and translation available makes it easier for family and friends to offer these words to you.

back to top Shloshim meaning “thirty” in Hebrew, is the first month of mourning following the funeral.

After shiva mourners customarily resume some of their regular daily activities, but may refrain from attending parties, listening to live music or engaging in other forms of public entertainment. Mourners may continue to say kaddish daily. Currently some synagogues are holding services on Zoom or via livestream; mourners who are unable to be in person may wish to participate online to say kaddish, At the conclusion of shloshim, the traditional formal mourning period ends for a bereaved spouse, parent and sibling. According to classic Jewish practice, those mourning the death of a parent continue reciting Mourner’s Kaddish for eleven months (including the first month). Some mourners mark the end of shloshim with a special service or ceremony at which the mourner or family members speak about the deceased. Also, if there is to be a public memorial service, it may be held at the conclusion of shloshim, The memorial service may include several speakers and music or poetry that might not have been included in the funeral service.

back to top Unveiling/Memorial

The unveiling is a formal ceremony following the placement of the matzevah, the gravestone, at the cemetery. Customs differ, but the unveiling is generally held any time after shloshim and up to a year after burial. The ceremony is very brief, usually consisting of some psalms and readings, a few words about the deceased, the removal of a covering from the stone, and the reciting of the El Malei Rachamim, and Mourner’s Kaddish prayers. Although clergy are not required for the unveiling, a rabbi or cantor can assist you in putting together a service to mark the occasion and can officiate and provide comfort along with other friends and relatives.

back to top Visits to the Gravesite

Some family and friends find it meaningful and/or comforting to visit the graves of loved ones before the High Holidays and at other times during the year. Small stones are often placed on the gravestone to mark the visitor’s presence. The origins of this custom are not clear. Some say this harkens back to biblical days when a pile of stones served as a grave marker. Others say that placing stones on the grave is a reminder of the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, while still others say that stones are used because they are inert, non-living things and thus last forever, as do our memories of our loved one. Another answer takes it cue from the inscription on some gravestones. The Hebrew abbreviation taf-nun-tsadi-bet-hey stands for ” teheye nishmato tsrurah b’tsror ha- chayyim,” a phrase usually translated “May his/her soul be bound up in the bonds of eternal life.” Tsror in Hebrew means a pebble. When we place a small stone on the grave, we are asking God to bind the soul of our loved one in the bonds of eternal life.

back to top Yahrzeit is the yearly anniversary of a loved one’s death.

Traditionally observed on the date of death on the Hebrew calendar, some find it more meaningful to observe the yahrzeit on the anniversary of the date of death on the Gregorian calendar. A 24-hour yahrzeit candle is customarily lit in memory of the deceased. While there is no blessing recited upon lighting this candle, you may wish to recite a poem, share a song, or place a photo of your loved one near the candle. Mourners may observe the yahrzeit by attending synagogue services in person or online to recite the Mourner’s Kaddish, Some also engage in special periods of study and acts of kindness in memory of the deceased. Visiting the grave of the deceased on or around this time may bring comfort; ask a friend or other family member to join you on your visit to the cemetery if you do not wish to go alone.

back to top Yizkor

As part of the synagogue service on the final day of Passover, Shavuot and Sukkot, and on Yom Kippur, special yizkor (memorial) prayers for deceased relatives are recited. Many Jews attend synagogue services at these times to recite the yizkor prayers. A special 24-hour candle is also customarily lit on these days, without a blessing. Some families light one candle for each beloved deceased family member, while others light one candle for all those they are remembering.

back to top Guide For The Grieving Main Page

Do Jews have to cover their skin?

– Orthodox Judaism requires both men and women to substantially cover their bodies. According to many opinions, that involves covering the elbows and knees. In Haredi communities, men wear long trousers and usually long-sleeved shirts; most will not wear short sleeves at all.

  1. Haredi Ashkenazi practice discourages sandals without socks both inside and outside the synagogue, but Haredi Sefardi communities tend to permit sandals at least outside of synagogue.
  2. Dress inside a synagogue and, according to many, in public should be comparable to that worn by the community when it meets royalty or the government.

Haredi women wear blouses covering the elbow and collarbone and skirts covering the knees while standing and sitting. The ideal sleeve and skirt length varies by community. Some women try not to follow fashion, but others wear fashionable but modest clothing.

Haredi women avoid skirts with slits but prefer kick pleats, They also avoid overly eye-catching colors, especially red, as well as tight clothing. The prohibition on wearing red is Ashkenazic, originally formulated by Joseph Colon Trabotto, Moses Isserles, and Shabtai HaKohen, In modern interpretation, Moshe Feinstein restricts the prohibition to women, but many other authorities apply it to both genders.

Many will wear only closed-toe shoes and always wear stockings or tights, the thickness of which varies by community. Modern Orthodox women also usually adhere to tzniut and dress in a modest fashion (as compared to general society), but their communal definition does not necessarily include covering their elbows, collarbones, or knees, and may allow for wearing pants although most Modern Orthodox women will, when in front of men or in public, wear skirts that cover their knees, preferably loose ones, and cover their shoulders and cleavage.

Modern Orthodox men’s dress is often indistinguishable from their non-Orthodox peers, apart from them wearing a skullcap, They may wear short-sleeved shirts, and sometimes even shorts. Sandals without socks are generally not worn in a synagogue but are usually accepted in Modern Orthodox and Religious Zionist communities in Israel for daily dress for both men and women.

Conservative Judaism formally encourages modest dress. While day-to-day dress often simply reflects trends in wider society, many Conservative synagogues expect somewhat more modest dress (although not necessarily as stringent as in Orthodox Judaism) for synagogue attendance, and may have specific dress requirements to receive synagogue honors (such as being called for a Torah reading ).

Reform Judaism has no religious dress requirements. The style of dress also involves cultural considerations aside from religious requirements. Members of Conservative and Reform synagogues may abide by dress codes generally ranging from business casual to informal, There are many Orthodox synagogues (especially in Israel) in which dress, while meeting religious modesty requirements, is quite casual.

Many Haredi and Hasidic communities have special customs and styles of dress that serve to identify members of their communities but regard those special dress features as more customary to their particular communities than a general religious requirement expected of all observant Jews.

How big are Hasidic families?

Large family sizes – Hasidic Jewish people are known for having large families.6-10 children is typical, and sometimes they have as many as 12 or more! This is another practice: reproduce as much as possible. It is considered a top rule which was commanded directly from G-d.

  1. This is the reason that even though some sects were nearly wiped out in the Holocaust, there are now communities packed with tens of thousands of people! And this is the reason that Hasidic neighborhoods in the USA are loaded with small children and school buses.
  2. School hours are long: male teenagers might be at school 8:00am – 8:00pm on 5 days per week.

The schedule will consist mainly of talmudic studies in the morning and early afternoon, and then in the late afternoon will be secular studies (mathematics, history etc). Why Do Hasidic Jews Carry Plastic Bags Why Do Hasidic Jews Carry Plastic Bags Ad

What is Hasidic life like?

ESSAYS ON HASIDISM Additional Essays on Hasidism Additional Resources “They conduct themselves like madmen, and explain their behavior by saying that in their thoughts they soar in the most far-off worlds, Every day is for them a holiday. When they pray,

  • They raise such a din that the walls quake,
  • And they turn over like wheels, with the head below and the legs above,
  • From a denunciation of the Hasidim by traditional Eastern Europe Rabbinic authorities, circa 1772 A BRIEF INTRODUCTION TO HASIDISM T he Hasidim, or “pious ones” in Hebrew, belong to a special movement within Orthodox Judaism, a movement that, at its height in the first half of the nineteenth century, claimed the allegiance of millions in Eastern and Central Europe-perhaps a majority of East European Jews.

Soon after its founding in the mid-eighteenth century by Jewish mystics, Hasidism rapidly gained popularity in all strata of society, especially among the less educated common people, who were drawn to its charismatic leaders and the emotional and spiritual appeal of their message, which stressed joy, faith, and ecstatic prayer, accompanied by song and dance.

  • Like other religious revitalization movements, Hasidism was at once a call to spiritual renewal and a protest against the prevailing religious establishment and culture.
  • The history of Hasidism, which encompasses a variety of sometimes conflicting outlooks, is a fascinating story.
  • The movement survived a century of slow decline-during a period when progressive social ideas were spreading among European Jewry-and then near-total destruction in the Holocaust.

After World War II, Hasidism was transplanted by immigrants to America, Israel, Canada, Australia, and Western Europe. In these most modern of places, especially in New York and other American cities, it is now thriving as an evolving creative minority that preserves the language-Yiddish-and many of the religious traditions of pre-Holocaust Eastern European Jewry.

The Hasidic ideal is to live a hallowed life, in which even the most mundane action is sanctified. Hasidim live in tightly-knit communities (known as “courts”) that are spiritually centered around a dynastic leader known as a rebbe, who combines political and religious authority. The many different courts and their rebbes are known by the name of the town where they originated: thus the Bobov came the town of Bobova in Poland (Galicia), the Satmar from Satu Mar in present-day Hungary, the Belz from Poland, and the Lubavitch from Russia.

In Brooklyn today, there are over sixty courts represented, but most of these are very small, with some comprising only a handful of families. The great majority of American Hasidim belong to one of a dozen or so principal surviving courts. Hasidism is not a denomination but an all-embracing religious lifestyle and ideology, which is expressed somewhat differently by adherents of the diverse courts (also called “sects”).

  • The Hasidic way of life is visually and musically arresting, with rich textures, unusual customs, and strong traditions of music and dance.
  • Hasidic tales, intriguing and memorable doorways into a complex world of Hasidic thought, religious themes, and humor, are fruits of a long and continuing oral tradition.

Popularized in the non-Hasidic world by writers such as Martin Buber, Isaac Bashevis Singer, and Elie Wiesel, they are famous for their particular wisdom and wit. Yet this world is virtually unknown to most Americans, who are apt to confuse Hasidic men, who wear beards, sidelocks, black hats, and long coats, with the similarly-dressed Amish.

This shared style of dress does indeed reflect similar values of piety, extreme traditionalism, and separatism. But where the Amish are farmers in rural communities, the great majority of the approximately two hundred thousand American Hasidim live and work in enclaves in the heart of New York City, amid a number of vital contemporary cultures very different from their own.

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Most of the approximately 165,000 Hasidim in the New York City area live in three neighborhoods in Brooklyn: Williamsburg, Crown Heights, and Boro Park. Each of the three neighborhoods is home to Hasidim of different courts, although there is overlap and movement between them.

Which is the largest Hasidic group?

Organization and demographics – The various Hasidic groups may be categorized along several parameters, including their geographical origin, their proclivity for certain teachings, and their political stance. These attributes are quite often, but by no means always, correlated, and there are many instances when a “court” espouses a unique combination.

Thus, while most dynasties from the former Greater Hungary and Galicia are inclined to extreme conservatism and anti-Zionism, Rebbe Yekusiel Yehudah Halberstam led the Sanz-Klausenburg sect in a more open and mild direction; and though Hasidim from Lithuania and Belarus are popularly perceived as prone to intellectualism, David Assaf noted this notion is derived more from their Litvak surroundings than their actual philosophies.

Apart from those, each “court” often possesses its unique customs, including style of prayer, melodies, particular items of clothing, and the like. On the political scale, “courts” are mainly divided on their relations to Zionism, The right-wing, identified with Satmar, are hostile to the State of Israel, and refuse to participate in the elections there or receive any state funding.

  1. They are mainly affiliated with the Edah HaChareidis and the Central Rabbinical Congress,
  2. The great majority belong to Agudas Israel, represented in Israel by the United Torah Judaism party.
  3. Its Council of Torah Sages now includes a dozen Rebbes.
  4. In the past, there were Religious Zionist Rebbes, mainly of the Ruzhin line, but there are virtually none today.

In 2016, a study conducted by Prof. Marcin Wodziński, drawing from the courts’ own internal phone-books and other resources, located 129,211 Hasidic households worldwide, about 5% of the estimated total Jewish population. Of those, 62,062 resided in Israel and 53,485 in the United States, 5,519 in Britain and 3,392 in Canada.

  1. In Israel, the largest Hasidic concentrations are in the Haredi neighbourhoods of Jerusalem – including Ramot Alon, Batei Ungarin, et cetera – in the cities of Bnei Brak and El’ad, and in the West Bank settlements of Modi’in Illit and Beitar Illit,
  2. There is considerable presence in other specifically Orthodox municipalities or enclaves, like Kiryat Sanz, Netanya,

In the United States, most Hasidim reside in New York, though there are small communities across the entire country. Brooklyn, particularly the neighborhoods of Borough Park, Williamsburg, and Crown Heights, has an especially large population. So does the hamlet of Monsey in upstate New York.

  1. In the same region, New Square and Kiryas Joel are rapidly growing all-Hasidic enclaves, one founded by the Skver dynasty and the other by Satmar.
  2. In Britain, Stamford Hill is home to the largest Hasidic community in the country, and there are others in London and Prestwich in Manchester.
  3. In Canada, Kiryas Tosh is a settlement populated entirely by Tosh Hasidim, and there are more adherents of other sects in and around Montreal.

There are more than a dozen Hasidic dynasties with a large following, and over a hundred which have small or minuscule adherence, sometimes below twenty people, with the presumptive Rebbe holding the title more as a matter of prestige. Many “courts” became completely extinct during the Holocaust, like the Aleksander (Hasidic dynasty) from Aleksandrów Łódzki, which numbered tens of thousands in 1939, and barely exists today.

  • The largest sect in the world, with some 26,000 member households, which constitute 20% of all Hasidim, is Satmar, founded in 1905 in the namesake city in Hungary and based in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and Kiryas Joel,
  • Satmar is known for its extreme conservatism and opposition to both Agudas Israel and Zionism, inspired by the legacy of Hungarian Haredi Judaism.

The sect underwent a schism in 2006, and two competing factions emerged, led by rival brothers Aaron Teitelbaum and Zalman Teitelbaum, The second-largest “court” worldwide, with some 11,600 households (or 9% of all Hasidism), is Ger, established in 1859 at Góra Kalwaria, near Warsaw,

  • For decades, it was the dominant power in Agudas, and espoused a moderate line toward Zionism and modern culture.
  • Its origins lay in the rationalist Przysucha School of Central Poland,
  • The current Rebbe is Yaakov Aryeh Alter,
  • The third-largest dynasty is Vizhnitz, a charismatic sect founded in 1854 at Vyzhnytsia, Bukovina,

A moderate group involved in Israeli politics, it is split into several branches, which maintain cordial relations. The main partition is between Vizhnitz-Israel and Vizhnitz-Monsey, headed respectively by Rebbes Israel Hager and the eight sons of the late Rebbe Mordecai Hager.

  1. In total, all Vizhnitz sub-“courts” constitute over 10,500 households.
  2. The fourth major dynasty, with some 7,000 households, is Belz, established 1817 in namesake Belz, south of Lviv,
  3. An Eastern Galician dynasty drawing both from the Seer of Lublin ‘s charismatic-populist style and “rabbinic” Hasidism, it espoused hard-line positions, but broke off from the Edah HaChareidis and joined Agudas in 1979.

Belz is led by Rebbe Yissachar Dov Rokeach, The Bobover dynasty, founded 1881 in Bobowa, West Galicia, constitutes some 4,500 households in total, and has undergone a bitter succession strife since 2005, eventually forming the “Bobov” (3,000 households) and ” Bobov-45 ” (1,500 households) sects.

  • Sanz-Klausenburg, divided into a New York and Israeli branches, presides over 3,800 households.
  • The Skver sect, established in 1848 in Skvyra, near Kyiv, constitutes 3,300.
  • The Shomer Emunim dynasties, originating in Jerusalem during the 1920s and known for their unique style of dressing imitating that of the Old Yishuv, have over 3,000 families, almost all in the larger “courts” of Toldos Aharon and Toldos Avraham Yitzchak,

Karlin Stolin, which rose already in the 1760s in a quarter of Pinsk, encompasses 2,200 families. There are two other populous Hasidic sub-groups, which do not function as classical Rebbe-headed “courts”, but as de-centralized movements, retaining some of the characteristics of early Hasidism.

Breslov rose under its charismatic leader Nachman of Breslov in the early 19th century. Critical of all other Rebbes, he forbade his followers to appoint a successor upon his death in 1810. His acolytes led small groups of adherents, persecuted by other Hasidim, and disseminated his teachings. The original philosophy of the sect elicited great interest among modern scholars, and that led many newcomers to Orthodox Judaism (“repentants”) to join it.

Numerous Breslov communities, each led by its own rabbis, now have thousands of full-fledged followers, and far more admirers and semi-committed supporters; Marcin Wodziński estimated that the fully committed population of Breslovers may be estimated at 7,000 households.

  1. Chabad-Lubavitch, originating in the 1770s, did have hereditary leadership, but always stressed the importance of self-study, rather than reliance on the Righteous.
  2. Its seventh, and last, leader, Menachem Mendel Schneerson, converted it into a vehicle for Jewish outreach.
  3. By his death in 1994, it had many more semi-engaged supporters than Hasidim in the strict sense, and they are still hard to distinguish.

Chabad’s own internal phone-books list some 16,800 member households. None succeeded Schneerson, and the sect operates as a large network of communities with independent leaders.

Do Jews use tampons?

Can you really only use pads? – Thankfully, the answer here is no! Jewish people with periods use tampons, cups, discs, and anything else they see fit. While there are probably smaller sub-communities that may frown on the use of tampons because of the antiquated idea that they compromise virginity, the vast majority of Jewish people with periods can use whatever period products feel best for them (phew!).

Can Jews go on birth control?

Abstract – This paper examines some of the traditional texts that deal with sexuality, birth control and childbirth in the orthodox Jewish tradition and presents the rules governing these areas. For instance, a married woman should avoid being alone with a male physician unless other people are in earshot and have access to the room.

A husband and wife must separate during the woman’s menses and for the first 7 days afterward. Contraception is permitted if childbearing would endanger a woman’s life or health. Termination of pregnancy is also permitted to preserve a woman’s health, including her mental health. During childbirth the health of the mother is primary and supercedes all other rules or laws, including those of Sabbath observance.

In general, orthodox Jewish women try to live as much as possible within the framework of Halacha. These customs are examined as examples of the need for sensitivity to cultural norms that affect the behaviour of different ethnic groups.

Can Jews have tattoos?

Tattoos Allowed or Taboo? – Is it true that if I have a tattoo I cannot be buried in an orthodox cemetery? I’m not referring to Holocaust markings. Answer : The Torah forbids us from tattooing our bodies. Nonetheless, one who has had tattoos can still be buried in a Jewish cemetery. The source of this prohibition is Leviticus 19:28 : “You shall not etch a tattoo on yourselves.

  1. I am the Lord.” That said, every Jewish burial society has the right to enact its own criteria for who may and may not be buried in their plot.
  2. This stems from people’s desire (or right?) to be buried in proximity to others of their choosing.
  3. So while technically there is nothing in Jewish law which prohibits a tattooed person from being interred in a Jewish cemetery, certain burial societies — not the majority of them or even close — will not bury among their own a person who willingly tattooed him/herself, as it is a permanent exhibition of violation of Jewish Law.

This practice by certain burial societies led to the common misconception that this ban was an inherent part of Jewish law. Chani Benjaminson, Chabad.org

Do Hasidic children go to school?

Hasidic boys’ schools leave Jewish pupils barely able to read or write English

T housands of British boys can barely read or write English aged 16, with some of them routinely beaten in unsafe schools, because the government allows a strict religious group to deny them an adequate education, The Times has found.Hasidic Jews allow girls to study a range of secular subjects and take GCSE exams but boys from the isolationist ultra-Orthodox community are usually taught in private schools, where Yiddish is the primary language.Young boys receive a maximum of two hours of secular lessons each day, often from part-time teachers who have received little training, before vanishing en masse from school rolls at the age of 13 to enter unregistered religious schools where no English is spoken.

Religious schools in Stamford Hill ignore Ofsted recommendations Many of these establishments evade external scrutiny by : Hasidic boys’ schools leave Jewish pupils barely able to read or write English

How many wives allowed in Judaism?

Legal Consequences of the Act of Kiddushin – We have already noted that the legal consequence of the act of kiddushin is that the woman becomes forbidden to all other men, and is designated for the man who betrothed her. The woman cannot be freed from this man, except through divorce (receiving a get ) or through his death.

In the words of the Mishnah, “And she acquires herself in two ways through divorce or through death of the husband” (Mishnah, Kiddushin 1:1 ). The prohibition against the woman having sexual relations with another man is a strict prohibition derived from the Torah she-bi-khetav : Lit. “the written Torah.” The Bible; the Pentateuch; Tanakh (the Pentateuch, Prophets and Hagiographia) Torah : the woman is deemed an adulteress and her children by this man are deemed mamzerim (bastards).

Although according to Torah law a man may marry more than one wife, under a ban ( h erem ) issued by Rabbenu Gershom (Rabbi Gershom ben Judah Me’or Ha-Golah, c.960–1028) in the eleventh century, a husband could not take an additional wife unless he divorced his first wife or she died.

The same h erem also forbade a man to divorce his wife against her will. However, relations between the husband and another woman are not considered adulterous in the halakhic sense (unless she is married) and his children by a woman other than his wife are not considered bastards. The h erem was accepted as binding among Ashkenazi communities but not among the Sephardi and most of the Oriental communities.

Upon the act of kiddushin, the obligations of a married woman apply to the woman, but her rights as a married woman do not apply until after the nissu’in, Therefore, the woman is not permitted to her husband until after nissu’in, and, similarly, she is not entitled to support from him, nor does she inherit him.

And if he divorces her, she does not receive her Marriage document (in Aramaic) dictating husband’s personal and financial obligations to his wife. ketubbah payment. Furthermore, if the couple decide to separate, she requires a get from him. The act of kiddushin is carried out by the man, and the function of a rabbi, a mesader kiddushin, is not essential for the kiddushin itself.

Although it is impossible to force a woman to marry a man, she is a passive participant at the time of kiddushin, and, unless she expresses her opposition to the kiddushin, it is valid. Various problems arise in consequence of the ease with which kiddushin can be carried out, since it is sufficient for a man to pronounce the traditional formula (mentioned above) to a woman, and to then give her an object worth a perutah for the purposes of kiddushin, in the presence of two witnesses, for the kiddushin to be valid, and for the woman to require a get should she wish to be freed from this relationship.

What do Jews do at age 13?

The Jewish Museum London is now closed to the public. Join our mailing list to get updates on our next steps A Bar or Bat Mitzvah is a coming of age ceremony for Jewish boys and girls when they reach the age of 12 or 13. This ceremony marks the time when a boy or girl becomes a Jewish adult.

What religion do couples sleep in separate beds?

And this falls under the category of family purity. Most Hasidic Orthodox Jewish couples. have 2 beds in their room and not one bed. This is because during this time, the husband and wife do sleep in the same room, but they sleep in separate beds.

Did married couples used to sleep in separate beds?

Rolled over: why did married couples stop sleeping in twin beds?

“The twin-bed seems to have come to stay,” proclaimed the Yorkshire Herald in 1892, “and will no doubt in time succeed the double bed in all rooms occupied by two persons”.The proclamation may have proved less than accurate, but for almost a century between the 1850s and 1950s, separate beds were seen as a healthier, more modern option for couples than the double, with Victorian doctors warning that sharing a bed would allow the weaker sleeper to drain the vitality of the stronger.Delving through marriage guidance and medical advice books, furniture catalogues and novels, Lancaster University professor Hilary Hinds found that twin beds were initially adopted in the late 19th century as a health precaution.

In her new book,, Hinds details how doctors warned of the dire consequences of bed-sharing. In 1861, doctor, minister and health campaigner William Whitty Hall’s book Sleep: Or the Hygiene of the Night, advised that each sleeper “should have a single bed in a large, clean, light room, so as to pass all the hours of sleep in a pure fresh air, and that those who fail in this, will in the end fail in health and strength of limb and brain, and will die while yet their days are not all told”.

  1. In the 1880s, a series of articles by Dr Benjamin Ward Richardson warned of the risks of inhaling a bedfellow’s germs: “I cannot do better than commence what I have to say concerning beds and bedding by protesting against the double bed.
  2. The system of having beds in which two persons can sleep is always, to some extent, unhealthy.” Some doctors believed that sharing a bed would allow the stronger sleeper to rob the vitality of the weaker; one wrote of how a “pale, sickly and thin boy” had been sharing a bed with his grandmother, “a very aged person”.
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When they were separated at night, “the recovery was rapid”. ‘Part of that constellation of social and cultural configuration comprising modernity’ twin beds in the modernist Lawn Road Flats in Hampstead, London. Photograph: Sydney Newberry/University of East Anglia Library In 1858, Dr James Copland warned: “But it is not in children only that debility is induced by this mode of abstracting vital power Young females married to very old men suffer in a similar manner, although seldom to so great an extent These facts are often well known to the aged themselves, who consider the indulgence favourable to longevity, and thereby often illustrate the selfishness which, in some persons, increases with their years.” By the 1920s, twin beds were seen as a fashionable, modern choice.

  • Separate beds for every sleeper are as necessary as are separate dishes for every eater,” wrote Dr Edwin Bowers in his 1919 volume, Sleeping for Health.
  • They promote comfort, cleanliness, and the natural delicacy that exists among human beings.” Published by Bloomsbury Collections and funded by the Wellcome Trust, Hinds’s book lays out how, by the 1930s, twin beds were commonplace in middle-class households.

But by the 1940s, writes Hinds, “they can occasion an unmistakable curl of the lip” and are “no longer the preserve of the health-conscious forward-thinking middle classes”. Goodnight sweethearts film poster from 1942. Photograph: Everett Collection/Alamy Separate beds began to be seen as a sign of a distant or failing marriage in the 1950s. In 1956, Marie Stopes railed against them: “Many of their inhabitants get devitalised, irritable, sleepless and unhappy, I think, because of them.

The twin bed set was an invention of the Devil, jealous of married bliss,” she wrote in her final book, Sleep. By the 1960s, their cachet had gone. Hinds did not set out to write about beds: she was researching interwar fiction written by women, and kept seeing references to separate beds. “I assumed they signified what they signify now, some kind of marital distance or sexual dysfunction,” she said.

But in a novel from the 1920s, she found a reference to “modern twin beds” that “stopped me in my tracks I could not believe had been part of that constellation of social and cultural configuration comprising modernity”. She went back to a household scrapbook of her great-grandmother’s, from the 1880s, which included a newspaper cutting warning against the dangers of habitual bed sharing.

  1. I thought I might write an article I really didn’t expect to write a book.” Despite all her research, Hinds said that she has not been tempted into acquiring twin beds.
  2. I find myself moved by what they seem to represent about taking charge of that marital nocturnal environment, doing something different with it, rather than just doing what we’d always done in the past,” she said.

“But I am a creature of my historical moment.” : Rolled over: why did married couples stop sleeping in twin beds?

Is it right for couples to sleep in separate rooms?

Experts explain why couples can benefit from sleeping in separate bedrooms who live together are usually expected to in the same bed, if social norms are anything to go by. Yet, a viral tweet has sparked a fierce debate over whether it’s more beneficial for couples to sleep in separate bedrooms.

  1. A Twitter user who goes by the handle @gaialect wrote on Sunday (20 November): “I think I will want separate bedrooms when I’m married.
  2. Unless maybe if the bed is super big No, but even so, like, we can decorate our own rooms the way we want and have sleepovers.
  3. I just feel like we would thrive in our spaces decorated the way we like,” they added.

The idea of a couple who sleep in separate beds or bedrooms is not novel. In fact, up until the Seventies, fictional couples on TV were almost always depicted as sleeping in separate twin beds rather than in one double bed. The practice of sleeping in separate bedrooms is also found among royalty.

The late Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh famously did not share the same bedroom, but always had connecting bedrooms. Experts say that sleeping separately could be hugely beneficial to couples who are struggling with different sleeping patterns or sleep disorders that are keeping each other from having a good night’s rest.

, a GP specialist in sleep and mental health and mindset coach, tells The Independent that, while sleeping in separate bedrooms is not for everyone, some couples could find it improves their relationships. Sleep disorders like very loud snoring, sleep apnea, or night terrors can affect the other person’s quality of sleeping by keeping them awake.

  • Adjusting to having very young children might also be a cause for poor sleep habits.
  • For people with young children, it might be that one parent needs to repeatedly get up to feed or soothe the child, therefore interrupting the other person’s sleep and resulting in both parents not getting enough rest,” Dr Patel adds.

Differing sleep habits might also affect couples’ ability to sleep in the same room. Dorothy Chambers, sleep expert at Sleep Junkie, explains: “You might like to fall asleep to relaxing music, while your partner may prefer a sensory blackout. And then there’s snoring, sleep apnea, body heat, clashing schedules, and ongoing battles for the covers. Access unlimited streaming of movies and TV shows with Amazon Prime Video Sign up now for a 30-day free trial Access unlimited streaming of movies and TV shows with Amazon Prime Video Sign up now for a 30-day free trial In such situations, it might be worth trialling sleeping in separate bedrooms, as this could give both parties a chance to get solid, high-quality sleep without interruption.

Dr Patel says: “Sleep is so important to us, and not getting enough of it can lead to poor mental and physical health. For some couples, sleeping apart can be the best thing for their,” Some studies have shown that more couples who live together are choosing to sleep apart. In France, a 2021 study showed that, whereas a 2019 study by the Sleep Health Foundation found that,

However, experts acknowledge that some people may hesitate to try sleeping apart because they worry about losing intimacy or the chance to check in with one another before falling asleep or after waking up. Chambers says: “While it may be a growing trend, it’s still seen as a taboo subject that elicits a concerned and often judgemental response.

Sharing a bed with a partner is traditionally seen as an expression of relationship bliss, but in reality, sharing a bed can be a struggle – no matter how much you love one another. “We all know just how important sleep is to our mental and physical health, and if ditching the age-old idea that you must share a bed with your partner helps you get a quality night’s rest, then I’d encourage people to explore this option.

But aside from improving sleep – which is associated with brain function, emotional wellbeing, and a stronger immune system, to name a few – prioritising sleep can create a greater connection between couples, reduce bickering and arguments, provide more ‘me time’ and improve communication.” “If losing intimacy is something you’re worried about, have a discussion with one another to find other moments and ways of making sure you’re keeping in touch with one another,” Dr Patel advises.

Do Hasidics have arranged marriages?

When the Netflix series Unorthodox went viral last year, it introduced many viewers to Hasidic Jewish rituals and cultural norms, including those surrounding marriage. In this blog post, Yehudis Fletcher discusses marriage within the Haredi Jewish community. Why Do Hasidic Jews Carry Plastic Bags Photo: cottonbro, pexels The issue of forced marriage was raised on a recent episode of BBC Woman’s Hour, when it featured women from an ethnic and religious minority that is not typically represented in UK government discourse as being “at risk” – Haredi Jewish women.

Beatrice Weber, a discussant who had met her prospective husband three times before proceeding to marriage, was asked “How much can you say that what you experienced and what other Jewish women say they are experiencing is forced marriage or more of a cultural norm?” This poses an important question.

In this post, I draw attention to the ways that forced marriage is situated as an issue in some specific minorities but dismissed as “cultural norms” for others, which delegitimises the continuum of pressures that women and men experience around marriage.

Changes to the teaching of relationships and sex education (RSE) in England offers an opportunity for consent to be promoted within faith tenets, but opposition remains on the part of religious authorities. Forced marriage or cultural norms? The UK government’s forced marriage poster campaign features four people, three women and one man in fine wedding jewellery and dress, from minority ethnic and religious backgrounds.

“You have the right to choose,” appears underneath, in a way that speaks to people from the backgrounds represented in the image. While perhaps useful for speaking directly to women at higher risk of forced marriage, this government campaign reinforces public perceptions of “at risk” people rather than a practice that broadly occurs across society and amidst pressures that may be difficult to discern.

In this regard, the campaign departs from the UK government’s own broader definition of forced marriage: ” The act of forcing another person into marriage cannot be justified on religious grounds; every major faith condemns it and crucially, free consent is a prerequisite of all religions. ” Nahamu, a think tank founded to counter extremism in Britain’s Jewish community, has drawn attention to these inconsistencies around forced marriage.

Whilst ‘outward’ facing extremism, such as a violent terror attack, directs its harmful impacts towards others, ‘inward’ facing extremism, such as ideologically justified domestic abuse, operates within communities as part of a process of maintaining a self-protective stance and group autonomy.

  • Those who perpetrate outward facing extremism are almost always going to be perpetrating inward facing extremism at the same time, which often takes the form of moral regulation.
  • An example of the former involves recent violent demonstrations in Israel initiated by Haredi Jews (who are otherwise and problematically referred to as being ‘ultra-Orthodox’), and Nahamu has identified forced marriage as an ‘internal’ harm that is being practiced in some Haredi Jewish circles.

Recently, an analysis of arranged marriage in Haredi Jewish communities was submitted to the Forced Marriage Unit, concluding that the typical marriage practices within some sections of the Haredi community fall within the remit of the UK Government’s own definition of forced marriage.

  1. While this position might appear new to people listening to BBC Woman’s Hour, they are a familiar part of life for Haredi Jewish women such as myself, who are raised with clear expectations of when and who to marry – and that marriage itself constitutes a prerequisite of adulthood.
  2. In our call for evidence, five markers were found whereby the marriage process can inhibit free and full consent being given by the young people involved, and thus falls within the UK government position on forced marriage rather than a ‘cultural norm.’ There will be some families where all of these practices are adhered to and some where none are.

The focus on the markers are therefore a helpful way of identifying incidences of forced marriage, rather than assigning a description to an entire community. The marriage process begins when Haredi Jews are in their teenage years. Marriage is seen as an automatic rite of passage, and a precursor to permanently moving out of the family home.

Parents receive or seek out a prospective match for their child from a matchmaker ( shadchan ) and conduct extensive, often exhaustive enquiries, to ensure the suitability of the marriage. Depending on the family, these enquiries cover socioeconomic status, education, and lineage. The prospective couple will meet face-to-face, often just as a formality, and the encounters are as short as 20 minutes.

Protected from broader influences, young people have limited ability and agency to opt out of the arranged marriage process, While termed a “meeting,” survivors of forced marriage recalled there being ‘cake on the table in the other room’ and feeling unable to say no when family were already assembled waiting to congratulate them.

  1. They felt rushed into their engagement.
  2. Once engaged, the couple is not allowed to meet again (in some cases the parties are not allowed to speak on the telephone either) until the wedding, which is held several months later.
  3. This prevents the young couple from getting to know each other better, or allowing them to form any further impressions of each other.

There is an engagement contract that is considered binding, whereby the parents sign a contract agreeing to bring their children to the wedding at a certain future date. It is very difficult to break this contract as there are financial and religio-spiritual penalties if the wedding does not go ahead.

Whilst this practice has been all but abandoned by most of the community, it is maintained among Hasidic (subsection of Haredi) Jewish families. In this system, the two individuals are expected to rely on their parent’s choice and marry the person they are introduced to. At such a young age and with no alternative model presented as legitimate, there is no opportunity to provide full and free consent.

These practices are not secret or hidden within Haredi communities, but are proudly celebrated. Our call for evidence finds that Haredi Jews are increasingly aware of the harm caused by these marriage practices. When faced with accusations that forced marriages are taking place, gatekeepers emphasise how autonomy (personal and sexual) and consent around marriage is a fundamental Jewish ethic and example of how the day-to-day lived experience of Haredi Jews is informed by the standards set in Jewish texts.

This performative value of consent is noted when Chaya Spitz, Chief Executive of the Interlink Foundation, a membership organisation in the Orthodox Jewish community, claimed in the aforementioned BBC Woman’s Hour interview, that “anyone in the community looking at this document would just balk and feel that it’s very far removed from the lived reality of ordinary people.

Forced marriage is a very alien concept in Judaism; consent, and marrying of one’s free choice, are absolutely fundamental principles.” The reference to consent then serves as a counter-argument and deploys UK government discourse to indicate that marriage is unequivocally a matter of choice in Judaism.

Opposition to the teaching of sex and relationships education in England, however, indicates the reluctance of religious authorities to raise Haredi Jews with a basic understanding of autonomy and consent in relationships and marriage. Religious authorities have fiercely opposed the new RSE curriculum, which raises an important question: if consent is so fundamental to Jewish marriages, why can the new curriculum not be taught as part of these faith tenets? To demonstrate that autonomy and consent are fundamental Jewish ethics and that forced marriage is indeed an ‘alien concept’ to Judaism, then religious authorities have an opportunity to fully implement the new RSE programme and ensure that Haredi Jews are able to enter marriage free from pressure.

To return to the question that Emma Barnett raised on BBC Woman’s Hour, a clear image of who is at risk is reproduced when thinking about the problem of forced marriage ( and made explicit through current UK government campaigns ). By considering the markers that inhibit free and full capacity to consent, rather than focusing on specific communities that are considered to be at risk, we can pursue a future where everybody feels protected from harm.