One of the things I learned about Judaism is its orientation towards sex. Frankly full swing fascinating.
Again, no better place to witness the Jewish take on sex than here in my own ultra orthodox neighborhood.
Forget about the urban legend of the hole in the sheet (it is said some ultra orthodox Jews are so concerned about modesty, they have intercourse through a hole in a sheet). In Judaism, sex is everywhere.
Sex within the marital context, is the woman’s right. Actually, deprivation of it is a reason for divorce.
Women are on top, so to speak, within the Jewish religion. And to stick to the metaphor, men are at the very bottom.
That is also why women, being the stronger and holier sex, have to stay out of the men’s sight in synagogue. Were the men to see them, they would be unable to concentrate on their religious duties.
Some say a married couple should always sleep together completely naked and that foreplay is a full day activity. However, when a woman is Nida, within most orthodox communities her husband should not touch her at all. Not even directly pass her the butter at the breakfast table . A woman is considered Nida at least twelve days a month during her fertile years. For a newly wed couple, that’s an awful lot of foreplay.
No wonder that the custom is also not to look someone of the other sex directly in the eye. I am still struggling with this. It feels so incredibly rude not to look my friend’s husbands in the eye. I am getting better at it. Often though I awkwardly still don’t know what to do when I greet my friend. Should I just ignore the character in black by her side? Or acknowledge his existence by nodding in his direction? Is it over the top to tell my friend to tell her husband bye? Or is talking about him also wrong?
Names are not just names. Names are given with seduction in mind. Most of my Haredim friends are called either Sara(h), Odele or Racheli. And so are their daughters. When they have more children, they will throw a Miira, a Maryam and a Veigy in the mix. Calling out to my friend Sarah in the playground is a tricky thing because almost all the girls wil look up.
One of the Odele’s explained to me why most girls share the same names. This, too has everything to do with sex. Odele said that when all the women have the same name, it will prevent the men from cheating.
I am not sure if I know how that works, but I guess cheating on your wife Racheli with another Racheli will just not feel as sweet as cheating on Racheli with a, let’s say, Samantha.
How vastly different, yet strikingly similar my night of clubbing was with two old friends who came to visit. We stayed up late and enjoyed the local LGBT scene. Starting in the friendly Evita Bar. Not only Tel Aviv’s oldest gay bar, but also Tel Avivs bar with the oldest gays.
We ended up in Shpagat. Across the street a pretty boy had his shirt off. His pants were hanging so low, we almost got to meet his member. As straight as he could still walk, he ended up between my own two pretty boys. Introduced himself with an Arab first name and a German sounding last name. After that, he got a little repetitive.
Pointing at my friends, poking their chests with his finger or slapping them in inappropriate places, he kept asking the same thing. Bringing me from Tel Aviv, right back to my friends in Jerusalem.
Because while Pretty Boy was desperately looking for love, he longingly repeated what by now must have been an almost existential question for him:
Top or bottom?
Are you top or bottom?