Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Nisht a Heir, Nisht a Heen

One date called me a Bais Yaakov girl.

Two weeks later, another stated, "You consider yourself 'modern.'"

I was wearing the same exact getup both times, just to clarify. Nor were they on opposite sides of the "frum" spectrum; they were both of pretty much the same outlook/lifestyle.

I don't consider myself "anything". I am simply an observant Jewess. No hashkafa, no specific rabbanim that I ally myself to, just let's take a look at what halacha says. I live my life pretty close to how my parents and grandparents lived theirs, also lacking identifying labels other than maybe "heimish." (That's hi-mish, not hay-mish. One vowel makes all the difference.)

But everyone prowls about with a label-maker in hand, so they can quickly type in a classification and slap it on my forehead. I have been called everything from modern to yeshivish to chassidish, from frummy to bummy. Doesn't make it so, just 'cause you called me that.

Whenever I travel outside of New York, I am always struck about how the Jews everywhere else live their lives as a true melting pot. They don't recognize N.Y.-area "rules" for what qualifies as a certain outlook; they just do what appeals to them, and may call themselves "yeshivish" or "modern," but there is a lot of wiggle room

When they transplant to New York, they decide they want to continue being "yeshivish" or "modern." But it is different here, very, very, different. For instance, they don't realize that yeshivish people here have "officially" banned television, so talking about the most recent episode of a reality show in public kinda labels one another way.

But I'm yeshivish! they cry. I really am! Sir, your skinny suit says otherwise.
These labels have to go the way of the dodo. Or the way of Alderaan. It's causing too many identity crises.   


FrumGeek said...

I hear you sister! Off the build a death star! :)

Gavi said...

A Chananya Weissman article from 2004 comes to mind. It is entitled "Labels Belong On Clothing"

Princess Lea said...

FG: Now I'm a mass-murderer. Perfect.

Gavi: Yup, and he forgot a few more labels while he was at it.

What is frum? I don't think it's wearing a black hat (dude) or stockings (dudette).

Mighty Garnel Ironheart said...

It's the difference between a big and small community. In a small community you're just happy there's other frum people around. In a big community you can afford to be picky. That's why in Israel it can come down to such minutiae. "Your mother came from western Morocco, not east? You're not a REAL Sephardi then."

Princess Lea said...

MGI: The Hungarians have the "moving border" controversy. It can get pretty hairy.