Monday, December 28, 2009


She looks like a typical young matron from Bnai Brak. She's dressed in a baggy suit, the type the stores on Rabbi Akiva street abound with. Her Shaitel is short and straight, mousy colored. She speaks in weighty, solid, tones.

Where is the girl I once knew? I can't find her inside this staid creature. "It's happened to her too", I think. She's become a standard Chareidi woman. Fitting the mold, following the rules. Marriage does that to you.

She tells me she's studying teaching, in college. "The certificate we got from Seminary isn't enough," she explains, "I need a real degree for doing therapy"
"What type of therapy?" I expect to hear one of the standard specialties; physiotherapy, occupational therapy. Or maybe even art or music therapy, they've also come into fashion.

"Animal therapy." she says.

"Animal therapy?!" I blink. I look at her again, closer this time.

Chareidi women cross the street when they see a dog. Try as I might, I can't picture her, I can’t picture any Chareidi woman, in a barnyard or a stable, surrounded by dogs or horses or whatever animals it is they use for therapy. It doesn't fit the image I have of her. Shaitel and suit meeting feathers and fur. Surely not. Whatever happened to conforming to the unspoken rules? What happened to fitting in?

She's smiling. There's a light in her eyes. "Yes. Animal Therapy. It's always been my dream."

I smile back at her. "Good for you!" I say.

And so I've learned my lesson. Never judge a book by its cover. There are shapes between the lines; there is color beneath the black and white.


  1. Lol, one of the plainest, most typical looking BY girls I know is a horticultural therapist. Yeah, I also learned from her not to judge. (This was the girl that I looked at and said to myself "gotta be special ed.")

  2. Interesting lesson. Good to know and remember!

  3. Hmmm, my sister met a girl from Israel this past summer who does this (well, she works in a zoo the animals, though I don't remember the exact title of her job). A BY girl, too (though still single). So I guess there is more diversity there than you'd think.

  4. When you all kinda' dress and kinda' behave the same, then it evinces out true individualities.

    It's easy to rely on a certain brand or fashion to try to express your individualism. But when you don't depend on that, then your true uniquenesses and character specialities are forced to shine.

  5. yes, you never know. especially with the increase in baalei teshuva who look just like anybody else and dont necessarily dress differently, but even just among ffb's there are always some who will be more successful in remaining individuals and doing what they love and dream of despite its unusuallness in haredi society.

    BTW, because of your commenting system, I have this opportunity to edit my comment after filling in the captcha - my captcha letters are 'emess'

  6. There is a BY grad i know who is an aqua-therapist. An incredibly cool job.Brad