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Premarital Sex, Orthodox Jews & Censorship

by Ilana Angel

December 15, 2011 | 9:57 am

Stern College for Women is part of Yeshiva University of Manhattan.  It is an Orthodox Jewish school, and while it has classes that are religious based and not, it is a religious campus and the rules and regulations of Orthodoxy are followed.  Even if it means censorship.

Earlier this week an Orthodox female student wrote an essay that was published online through The Beacon, a school paper.  She wrote about the sex life of an unmarried Orthodox woman who goes to a hotel, and has sex with her lover, then regrets it.

I enjoyed her writing.  I thought her story was sexy.  As a woman, I could understand her passion and regret, and it would be a shame if this uproar silenced this girl’s writing.  Even though you write about sex doesn’t mean you’re having sex.  My blog is proof of that.

I have read the essay, and don’t understand why it has ruffled so many feathers. Since premarital sex is forbidden in Orthodoxy, there is now a firestorm on campus, which in my opinion has put an unflattering light on this population of the Jewish faith, and brings up a lot of interesting questions.

This woman wrote an essay and many are trying to censor her.  The religious faction of the school is pressuring those that published it to take it down as it is offensive to Orthodoxy.  Is that not religious bullying?  If you don’t like the subject, don’t read the essay.  It’s quite simple.

With no disrespect, I doubt all Orthodox Jews are not having premarital sex. That said, let’s assume there is not one single Orthodox Jew having sex before marriage.  If this community wants us to believe that, fine.  We won’t of course, but it’s okay that you want us to..

Even if you are not having any sex, it does not mean you are not able to think about it, talk about it, fantasize about it, and write about it.  There are Orthodox sex toy companies, Orthodox porn, and websites catering to Orthodox affairs, so why are so many panties in a twist about this essay?

Is the issue that she wrote about premarital sex, or that she may have had it?  Some kids on campus said the act itself is forbidden, and others seemed more concerned with the sharing of something that should be kept private.  If you have sex but keep it quiet is that?

People are having sex before marriage in the Orthodox community.  I don’t know if the author of the essay is, but who cares?  She is a writer, who shared a story that required bravery.  She should be applauded, not made to feel bad about her work.  The hypocrisy of faith is baffling.

Members of the student council asked for the essay to be removed and while The Beacon is under tremendous pressure, they severed their ties with the school and left the essay up.  Bravo to them for doing the right thing and allowing this woman’s voice to be heard.

Sex, politics and religion are taboo, but writing about them is fabulous. What would the reaction have been had the essay been written by a male student? I’m guessing it would not be as big of a deal.  Women are not allowed to be sexual without being labeled a slut, or a religious failure.

I am proud of this young girl for writing this essay.  It is sometimes difficult when all Jews, from Reform to Orthodox are lumped into one religious bucket. Orthodox Jews are a religion on their own, and that they are looking down upon this woman is lame and unkindness God would not approve of.

Before you write that I do not know what God would approve of, I am speaking of my God, the God that guides me though my life and faith.  This God is kind, compassionate, and does not judge.  It was just an essay, and not anything that needs this much judgment.

I am not judging Orthodox Jews, and certainly not mocking their beliefs, I am only saying that just because you don’t talk about premarital sex, does not mean it is not happening.  It is happening, and trying to silence the essay’s writer is an embarrassing example of how to keep the faith.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Ilana Angel writes two blogs for JewishJournal.com. KEEPING THE FAITH is about her worldview as a single Jewish mother, and KEEPING IT REAL is all about reality television....

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