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Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Condescending or Correct?

I can see the point of an edition of this siddur just for women. It's a nice thought in theory, with special attention given to the tefilot and brachot that are relevant to women, like the brachot for hafrashat challah and hadlakot neirot, and the halachot that pertain to them. But somehow, the description on Artscroll's website just seems patronizing. Or maybe not, and I'm just being oversensitive since I received a letter today from my children's day camp, outlining the dress code that they expect parents to comply with when on camp premises. Some tidbits:
All married women must have hair covered with a wig, hat or scarf.
All women must wear stockings at all times, EVEN ON VERY HOT DAYS.
Blouses should be buttoned as close to the neck as possible.
No slits in skirts, even if the slit is fully below the knee.
No form-fitting clothing.

Now, I am not one of those who bristles at being told what to wear. It's their camp and they are entitled to run it how they please. I have no problem with their having certain expectations in terms of the level of modesty of the women who visit their campus, especially as there is a Yeshiva on the premises all year 'round. I also feel that dressing respectfully when visiting a Yeshiva building is no different than dressing appropriately for a black tie wedding: you do it because it's good manners and respectful to your hosts. My only problem with this whole dress code is, really, the petty way in which the administration outlined their wardrobe requirements. Somehow, it made me feel condescended to, kind of like how I felt I was treated when I was in high school. And God knows I'm not in high school anymore.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The sidur seems like a nice idea. The dress code, on the other hand, not so nice. You probably WERE just being overesensitive to the sidur pecause of the letter! Good call.

12:03 AM  
Blogger Just Passing Through said...

I reacted the same way to this letter; not so much the substance, but rather the message.

(Are stockings required by halacha?)

12:09 AM  
Blogger Krum as a bagel said...

Are all caps in the original?
What happened to the siddur point? It was there and then just faded away.

12:11 AM  
Blogger orthomom said...

Exactly my point. And I do not subscribe to the opinion that stockings are required by halacha. That being said, they are entitled to require them. Just not to qualify the point and treat us like children by reminding us to do it even on "very hot days". If it's a rule, make the point and it's over.
Because I don't really know whether the siddur was enough to get worked up over. Really, it's very nice, and why not have a special edition that contains tefilot and halachot that pertain especially to women? I think I really WAS just pissed about the letter.
Caps were not in the original. Just couldn't resist.

12:19 AM  
Blogger Krum as a bagel said...

Speaking of women's siddurs, check out the bracha on p. 14 of this siddur from the 1400s: http://www.jtslibrarytreasures.org/sidur/sidur.html.

1:12 AM  
Blogger BrownsvilleGirl said...

Wow, Krum, that siddur's really cool (even if I can't find what you pointed out).

3:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And I do not subscribe to the opinion that stockings are required by halacha.

Thanks "rabbi"

8:41 AM  
Blogger Mississippi Fred MacDowell said...

The bracha he refers to reads:

"Baruch ata Hashem elokenu melech ha-olam she-asani isha velo ish", among other brachos formulated specifically for women (e.g., shelo asisani amah ve-shifchah instead of shel asani aved).

8:44 AM  
Blogger Mississippi Fred MacDowell said...

"Thanks "rabbi"

Come off your high horse. They're certainly not Das Moshe, and since large swaths of the kelal, perhaps the majority (and I'm talking about those concerned with halakha) don't abide by this stockings aren't Das Yehudis either.

8:45 AM  
Blogger orthomom said...

Thanks "rabbi"
I make it clear that I am SUBSCRIBING to a Rav's opinion. More than one, actually. But any and all honorifics are always appreciated.

9:05 AM  
Blogger Air Time said...

That siddur is really cool. I liked grabbing the corner of the page and pulling it turning it manually.

Just curious, would you have a problem if they banned certain colors as well, such as red?

9:31 AM  
Blogger orthomom said...

Not necessarily. Again, it is their campus and they are welcome to request as they see fit. I'm not even taking issue with their request for a higher level of tzniut than I personally subscribe to - I just don't like the way the letter is written. It's all about tone.

9:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree - that letter would just piss me off. I also can't fathom why stockings are required...even if you are wearing an ankle-length skirt and close toed shoes, say?

The concept of the siddur does somewhat annoy me (as I said here), but I cannot really say why. I find it a little condescending, and of course it validates my original feeling that the majority or "mainstream" of ArtScroll publications are really gewared toward men (rather than all observant/Orthodox Jews). Any ArtScroll for-women publication I've read to date has made me feel as if they were talking down to me, as if I were something less-than the "regular" audience.

Of course, I'm no huge fan of ArtScroll to begin with.

10:29 AM  
Blogger orthomom said...

"but I cannot really say why"
I feel the same way. I don't mind the premise of a siddur geared to women per se, I just feel a bit condescended to.

10:32 AM  
Blogger Penny said...

I went to see the siddur yesterday. I didn't get intimate time with it.. and as I commented, if it was cheaper I'd probably buy it and pour over it to see what they say (or don't). I'm intrigued by Tkhines, but this made me feel lesser than human? Ok, I haven't yet gotten a chance to talk about what was in it.. I need some more time with it first.. but the whole way it was designed (it's big and padded like Forst's Women's Guide to Laws of Niddah and made me cringe) .. in theory this could've been amazing. I think it's way off though. I worry about the Artscroll masses. I really do. They have done some good things, but I think overall it's hurting... Ok, I'll leave my artscroll rants to my own blog.. ;) I'll try to get a few more minutes with it tonight after work and post updates...

10:45 AM  
Blogger fsgsf said...

Whatever happens in this world, they will blame the Jews and Israel!! May God avenge the deaths of the innocent who were barbarically slaughtered in London today!!


NJ from NJ

12:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

they are cracking down on slits in a totally crazy way. It used to be enough to just tack the slit most of the way. Now, they make you sew it up entirely, which means that if the skirt is very long even if it's loose, it will likely tear. It's just stupid.

10:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the reason it's condescending is that there is very little special for women here. they could add in halachos for candlelighting to the regular siddur and be done. hafrashat challah is a requirement for whoever bakes, men or women (and the obsession w/ challah - obligating yourself to do something that is only there m'drabbonon as a zeycher, is itself rantworthy). What IS there for women is very oriented to the idea that getting married and having children is their main concern. What *REASON* is there for a separate siddur, that is what is condescending. All this stuff could be in a regular siddur, and if they want special stuff for women, how about a tanach yomi schedule in the back of the book? An eyn yaakov yomi program?

10:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

im pretty sure candlelighting bracha is in the regular siddur too, as it should be, men have to light if theyre alone too.
so if they want to add a bit more commentary on the halachos that women usually are the ones observing, let them add it to the main siddur.

this is just a marketing ploy of course. a way to get families to buy a separate siddur, or to get people to buy the artscroll siddur as a kallah present, etc

10:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you are wearing an ankle length skirt,how does anybody know if you are wearing stockings or not?
Coming up next they are going to have tzitzis checks for the men.Seriously,I have known the RY for many years and I honestly think he does not personally believe in this bs. He is being pressured by the Brooklyn know nothings and has no choice.

11:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have noticed that all the Artscroll material "For Women" has the same design what with the curly cursive font for titles and more "feminine" color scheme. (I guess this siddur doesn't go along with the color scheme.) I would feel condescended to if everything for me needed to be in that style but I'm not a woman so maybe y'all really like that sort of thing.

10:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's interesting to read everyone's oppinions about the new women's siddur from Artscroll. They do tend to be really unhelpful as a publisher, although I can't really say anything about what they publish. I contacted them at one point to see if I could get permission to translate one of their siddurim into Braille, and I just got no response. Ironically, I end up going to ritualwell.org, which is run by one of the more liberal Jewish organizations, because they post some Tkhines which are not included in the Birnbaum Siddur and Machzor I use. The Braille editions I have are copyright 1949 and 1952 respectively. BTW, this blog, and some of the others linked here, (I haven't read much of what's linked), are very interesting. I live in a very sparcely populated region as far as Jews are concerned, and most of the contact with other Jews I have is through email lists. Blogs seem to be a lot more fluid.

Amanda Rush


9:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear all,
I am a 25 year old Jewish mum who often felt considerably excluded by the Artscroll Siddur. Why? Well, 3 things really. 1, In the commentary at the bottom where it talked about what men do in the mornings and how men do this and how men do that and yadda yadda yadda... Uggh, it made me cringe! I mean, don't women wake up in the mornings?! So, now hopefully we'll feature a little bit more in the commentary. 2, When it comes to Havdalah, there is a passage called Got Fun Avrohom (scuse the spelling) in the Classic Artscroll. And it is set after the Havdalah ritual. Even though in reality the passage is said before Havdalah. 3, There are laws at the back of the Artscroll Siddur. These are about anything to do with prayer, hopefully with the Women's Siddur it will be all to do with women (there were only 8 laws pertaining to women in the classic).
There are a couple of other points to state here that I don't think have been touched on by the community for fear of controversy which is that a) the feminists will (or should be happy about this) b) the consequences of the fact that the Orthodox community are now publicly stating that women DO have an obligation to pray and what these will be remain to be seen.
Personally, I think other women just like me who were feeling a little excluded by Orthodoxy and
were thinking (not doing) of leaving that section of the community for other parts of it (like Masorti or Reform) for reasons of condescension and inequality (to name just a few) can rethink their steps and maybe stay in Orthodoxy for a while. :-)
Whatever the reason of Artscroll, the fact is it has been done and a lot of people (including myself) will be glad and will be buying it. Hooray for Artscroll!
BTW Amanda, I believe Artscroll already do a Braille version of their Classic. Perhaps this is the reason they didn't get back to you?

Mrs. Douek

11:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just reading through some archives here... I own the Women's Siddur (a requested gift from my husband), and rather enjoy it. Since my husband takes his siddur along with him on trips, this one is all mine and includes everything I need for daily prayers, etc. I think it's handy to have around, though doesn't take place of the other more complicated siddurs we own.

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