Why Ortho­dox Women Em­brace In­sta­gram

Forward Magazine - - Contents - By Avi­tal Chizhik-Gold­schmidt

Ortho­dox women are dis­ap­pear­ing. Over the years, Ortho­dox mag­a­zines and news­pa­pers have placed a strict ban on any im­ages of women.

And iron­i­cally, this era­sure has emerged at a time when the com­mu­nity has in­creased ac­cess to a lux­ury life­style: Ortho­dox women, decked out in glam­orous wigs and haute cou­ture, will ul­ti­mately pick up glossy re­li­gious mag­a­zines in the gro­cery lines, ones that have zero im­ages re­flect­ing them.

The pol­icy be­gan as strin­gency in the Ha­sidic com­mu­nity, and, over the past 15 years it has be­come the main­stream in the non-Ha­sidic Ortho­dox pub­lish­ing world as well. Sto­ries re­lated to women fea­ture im­ages of flow­ers, stain­less steel kitchens, wed­ding canopies and more flow­ers. Obit­u­ar­ies of rab­bis’ wives and renowned fe­male ed­u­ca­tors show pic­tures of the wo­man’s hus­band alone. Ac­cord­ing to pub­lish­ers, the pol­icy is out of sen­si­tiv­ity to mod­esty and to mar­ket forces.

Ortho­dox women have been rel­a­tively san­guine about this re­cent era­sure. But a grow­ing num­ber of them have found a way to sur­rep­ti­tiously flout it.

Wel­come to the se­cret so­cial me­dia world of Ortho­dox Jewish women.

Many re­li­gious women have turned to In­sta­gram, where a wo­man can see oth­ers who look like her. Open frum In­sta­gram, and you’ll find an­other sub­cul­ture, one that’s slowly push­ing the bound­aries.

For the lo­cal ver­sion of tabloid gossip — that is, the lat­est en­gage­ments and wed­dings — fol­low Sim­chaSpot and On­lySim­chas. For a more haimish, or homey, taste, Yid­dishe Sim­chas will show you mostly Ha­sidic wed­ding en­gage­ments.

Kosher food blog­gers post recipes and menu ideas. Star cos­metic artist Gitty Berger of­fers tips for the per­fect smokey eye; Shimi Adar of­fers en­ter­tain­ment for bat mitz­vahs in her trade­mark base­ball cap and knee-length skirt, while Nu­tri­tion by Tanya gives you tips on how to fit into your gown for your sis­ter’s wed­ding.

Each week, new mod­est fash­ion­istas post their out­fits of the day. Wigs and long skirts, meet Chanel and av­o­cado toast.

In­sta­gram has emerged as a plat­form that is much more po­tent than the old-fash­ioned print pub­li­ca­tions of the com­mu­nity.

“We have a plat­form where we do share our faces, and where we can say what­ever we want,” Sarah Lasry, a Lake­wood, New Jersey-based life­style blog­ger with 14,000 fol­low­ers, said in a re­cent In­sta­gram video.

Those In­sta­gram­mers have at­tained celebrity sta­tus in the com­mu­nity, be­com­ing as­pi­ra­tional fig­ures for their fol­low­ers — which in­creas­ingly in­clude Ortho­dox men, too.

“Lots of young girls and women fol­low these in­flu­encers,” said Eli­sheva Perl­man, founder of The Anelis Group, a bou­tique mar­ket­ing com­pany that

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