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 week ago