I know the newly launched Netflix miniseries that is the talk of the town and making waves on social media is titled My Unorthodox Life, but quite frankly, I think My Unorthodox Lie would be a far more accurate description of the narrative that Julia Haart is trying to push in her vicious festival of mistruths.
Have no doubt about it – Orthodox Jewish women are outraged by Haart’s depiction of our lives, painting us as uneducated, submissive, repressed, subservient, creatures who live to do nothing more than keep house, make potato kugel and pop out babies in order to please our overbearing husbands.
An article in the New York Post (https://bit.ly/3xMv8rE) quoted Haart as saying “Where I lived, women were to be rarely seen and never heard. Our lives were governed by a web of modesty laws that required us to not only cover our bodies head-to-toe, but to behave comparatively, as well. You grow up thinking you don’t matter at all.”
I take exception to Haart’s words for two reasons – in addition to being an Orthodox Jewish woman whose life in no way mirrors the suffocating existence she describes (an existence that Hollywood eats like candy), I live in Monsey, the very same community she categorizes as insular and fundamentalist – Monsey, New York.
Three of my daughters are graduates of Bais Yaakov of Monsey, the very school that Haart so glibly disparages, with the Post article referring to the “meager secular education” she received.
Perhaps the Post, which linked that deprecating phrase to an article bashing Chasidic boys’ yeshivas, needs to do its homework better and speak to some real, live Bais Yaakov of Monsey graduates who aren’t looking to sell low cut lingerie or garner ratings for their tabloidesque miniseries?
May I suggest one of my daughters, each of whom spent four years immersed in a dual-curriculum program so rigorous that they were able to earn significant amounts of college credit, and where their secular and Judaic studies were both on such a high level that their college and graduate level coursework paled by comparison?
Haart’s generalization that her obsession with fashion was problematic because she grew up in a world where clothing was meant to “cover and hide” and it was “all about disappearing into the background,” is laughable.
Clearly Haart hasn’t shopped in Jewish stores anytime this century and seen how European and designer couture are all the rage, nor has she been to any local outlet centers where impeccably attired Orthodox and Chasidic women tote purchases from Gucci, Zimmermann, Escada, Ted Baker and Tory Burch, which I guarantee you look nothing like shapeless garments she suggests filled her closets.
But as ludicrous as those claims are, neither can touch the sheer chutzpah of My Unorthodox Life, which suggests that Jewish women are deliberately caged after being trapped into loveless marriages that are devoid of all color.
Living as she is in a three story 10,000 square foot apartment in Tribeca, it is obvious that Haart is clueless about Orthodox Jewish women.
Perhaps one day I could introduce her to any of the 74 successful Orthodox female doctors, lawyers, neuro-psychologists, fashion photographers, interior designers, CEOs and other entrepreneurs who signed up as volunteer mentors for an Eastern Union initiative designed to guide post-seminary girls towards rewarding careers.
Truthfully, I would love to see Haart take a trip down memory lane by reading a letter written to her by Monsey realtor Michla Berlin, one year her junior, as previously reported on VIN News.
A fellow Bais Yaakov of Monsey graduate, Berlin shared her high school memories of Haart, recalling her comedic genius as she headlined local events and how her graceful dancing left audiences mesmerized each year at the annual Bais Yaakov concert, performances that drew hundreds of paying spectators.
And if the woman who describes herself as “a proud Jew” has any time left after completing her daily quota of exposing her kids to a world where anything – however immoral or perverted, dishonest or adulterous – goes, Haart could surf social media the newly launched MyOrthodoxLife.net blog (https://bit.ly/3hJOkjS) and read any one of dozens of posts from fulfilled Orthodox Jewish women.
To be perfectly honest, I have a hard time feeling empathy for someone who felt that her Bais Yaakov education was incomplete because it didn’t include studies of the high fashion magazines she snuck on the sly from the local 7-11 or in-depth analyses of the Sex and the City episodes she secretly watched.
Clearly someone who unabashedly admits – and without shame claims – that “every low cut top, every miniskirt is an emblem of “freedom”,” is missing the boat on the inherent dignity and beauty of modesty that are the very foundations of Orthodox Judaism.
But I cannot and will not be silent and let Haart’s ridiculous portrayal of Orthodox Judaism go unchallenged and I hope you can’t either.
Our voices need to be heard, and if you are up for it, our faces need to be seen as well.
Having been misrepresented and miscategorized one time too many, the world needs to find out who we are and what our lives are really all about.
Let’s counter Haart’s fairy tale with the truth, by sharing what our lives as Orthodox Jewish women are all about on social media – please tag us at @Vosizneias on Instagram, @vinnews on Facebook and @VINNews on Twitter and include the hashtag #ThisIsOrthodox for possible inclusion in future articles.
Sandy Eller is a writer with VIN News. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
(World Israel News).