The Ascent to Haute Boro Park

This post was written in response to a Tablet magazine piece posting a slide show of a women’s change from jeans skirts to jeans.

Dear Ms.Umansky,

If you can run an entire piece plus a slide show on Dvora Meyer’s evolution (devolution?) from jeanskirt wearing into jeans, than I’d like to propose the opposite side.

Unlike Meyers, I grew up in a traditional household and attended Ramaz back in the sixties and seventies when the word “tznius” was hardly spoken.

Back then the girls dress code was simple–skirts only and I think some minimal kind of sleeve (the wifebeater t shirt was still decades away). I remember the more rebellious members of my class sneaking jeans under their skirts, hurriedly changing in the locker room before the first period bell rang or ripping out the inner seams of their jeans to construct somewhat bizarre looking skirts.

Then came college–at Columbia University. Seminary had not yet been invented and no one in my class even considered applying to Yeshiva University .On campus anything went, even streaking–remember that?

Bye bye kipa, bye bye tefillin and of course, bye bye skirt.

In my mid-twenties, I gave skirt wearing a second chance.

Maybe this part of the story will be of interest to Meyers. Fed up with the prospects of a permanently single life–that’s how it seemed to be heading, Prince Charming was off my radar, I headed off to Israel in hopes of finding my bashert. And of course, I ditched my pants, You can’t show up at a shadchan’s office in khaki’s.

And so it’s been. Over the decades, I’ve transitioned from Bis Denim to maternity denim–to when my daughter entered Bais Yaacov (in hopes that being “in the system” would save her from singledom ) to no denim.

At nearly age 52, my wardrobe is haute Boro Park.

Do I have regrets? No, I don’t eat pig either even though it probably tastes good, nor do I flick light switches on Shabbos. This is how Hashem wants it, how my ancestors have done it and how I hope and pray my descendents will too.

If you are a Jewish magazine, then please respect and honor those of us who show fealty to authentic Jewish culture ie our holy Torah.

Anxious Ima

9 comments on “The Ascent to Haute Boro Park

  1. IMHO, I don’t believe that Anxious Ima meant to imply that modest denim skirts are forbidden. In many situations, a long denim skirt can be quite practical and completely Tzenius. I think she was just trying to give Tablet magazine an example of a transition in the opposite direction of its photo piece: i.e., instead of going from denim skirt to jeans, she went from jeans to denim skirt all the way to no denim.

  2. The brand identity of “Jewish” has been eroded by centuries of faux-Jewish movements.

  3. I read a fascinating article and interview with Professor Ruth Wisse ( Harvard) and Jack Werthheimer ( Chancellor-JTS), who both bemoaned the low quality of much of Tablet in terms of its being a source of Jewish thought. All too often, Tablet has essays of a left wing political and cultural with an inevitable “why I left Orthodoxy” piece.

  4. oh, honestly – thanks for commenting.

    Was your mis-characterization of Torah Judaism:
    a) intentional and therefore an indication of your rejection of other forms of Judaism?
    b) an indication of your misunderstanding of what the Torah Judaism practiced by your co-coreligionists actually constitutes?

  5. Tablet’s attachment to and understanding of traditional Judaism look pretty weak, the result of liberal cultural conditioning and religious ignorance. Of course, their people would feel more comfortable if we all became like them, so it’s no wonder that they highlight an example of this.

  6. Dear Anxious Ima,

    If you believe that there is only one way to be Jewish then Tablet is probably not the site for you to hear your own opinions parroted back. Some of us feel that Judaism need not be controlled by 18th and 19th century Catholic Polish lifestyles to be authentically Jewish.

  7. Anxious Ima was trying to explain it in a way that Mrs. Umansky of Tablet magazine would understand. Of course the reasons for sending a girl to Bais Yaacov are far more than just hoping she’ll get married to a fine Jewish boy one day.

    As far as denim goes, a long denim skirt is probably the best thing for a frum woman to wear on a day of active outdoor hiking and camping, when you expect to be dealing with plenty of mud and dirt.

  8. Are you saying that you sent your daughter to Bais Yaacov in hopes of “saving her from singledom”? And did you really mean to say that Hashem wants you to wear no denim?

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