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Ask Shifra

Something Different... Answering questions and making curious observations (online) since 2005.

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Monday, July 25, 2005

Finding my inner MO

Have you ever seen one of those awful movies about a sweet sensitive guy who is a sharp dresser, has a beautiful girl for a best friend, is a fantastic interior decorator/gourmet chef/hair stylist, has a massive poster of Patrick Swayze in his bedroom, and everyone knows he’s gay except him?

Well, that’s me and Modern Orthodoxy.

Since I’ve been blogging (or commenting really) people have been asking me where I stand on the Orthodox spectrum and it’s really been making me think about where I see myself. I’ve never liked labels, and to me the word “modern” (having first heard it used in an exclusively in negative sense in a UO environment) always had a bad ring to it.
To me it sounded like an apology or an excuse. I’ll do what I like and still call myself frum because I’m “Modern Orthodox.” So for these many years, although I’ve gone to college, I’ve married a totally MO guy, I have a TV which I’ll admit to watching, I read everything and anything, and have my own little blog, I’ve never really been able to embrace my Modern Orthodoxy. I’ve always considered myself a “Rebellious UO.” “I’m still yeshivish,” I say as I look in the mirror “look at my sleeves, see how they cover my elbows..basically… and my hair it’s covered, um….mostly… I’m just cooler, you know different, smarter…” Ugh.

OK, so I’m not yeshivish, at all. Now that I’ve come to terms with being MO and feeling less and less like a hypocrite the friends who I share this new revelation with just crack up. “What did you THINK you were?!” they ask me. Frankly I’m too embarrassed to answer.


At 7:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, you finally got in touch with your inner self. There are many people who masquerade as being frum, when they really are not.

Shouldn't you all come out of the closet already?

At 9:58 PM, Blogger Looking Forward said...

isn't being "frum" simply keeping shabbos, tahara ha'mishpacha and kasherut? (i know lots will find this odd, but if you keep these from all traditional halachic sources you are considered frum. as these are the springboards to further observance in all areas.

At 12:13 AM, Blogger respondingtojblogs said...

How's this for an ask Shifra question:

I posted this in reponse to your guest column at DovBear:

>>I first confronted my MO identity crisis when I posted a profile on Frumster. I put myself down as MO, but I am from a very Yeshivish background (through high school). I felt that there is no way I can justify calling myself Yeshivish. While the Frumster profile has gone away, my crisis as it is has not.
I think I am MO by default although I don't subscribe to its dogma.

My question is- am I full of crap if I wonder if I should change my kippa type from Yeshivish velvet to the supercool MO crochet? Does that show that my transformation was for cosmetic purposes only?

At 10:00 AM, Blogger Shifra said...


I will get to your question just as soon as I plow through this pile of work sitting in front of me. The internal/external conflict is always very intriging.


At 10:15 AM, Blogger and so it shall be... said...

responding --

i grew up wearing suede and knit (preferably by girls I knew). But I wasn't really MO because i went to a non-mo school and non-mo camps. At some oint, likely for a fasion statement rather than a religious statement, I switched to a black velvet. Last year i started feeling quite foul to UO, and on the basis of something my wife said as a joke about someone probably thinking we were too frum for them (long, odd, almost forgotten story), I decided to ditch the black velvet. i started wearing this wacky srugy i got at a bar mitzvah. the knit srugy looked like a billboard for my balding head and my wife insisted I ditch it. so i went out and bought these nice, smallish, black knits which i view as the world's most generic kippah.

If you don't want to make a statement, and you don't want to feel like a faker/hypocrite/loser I strongly recommend them.

Only 19.95 plus s&h. order now and we'll throw in a free set of black dib clips. operators are standing by.

At 11:34 AM, Blogger respondingtojblogs said...


At 11:37 AM, Blogger respondingtojblogs said...


I'm not sure if you are yanking my chain, but I made my break with Yeshiva when I was in high school. I resisted changing my kippa for seven years because I didn't want my break to be about externalities. Now that I actually live in an MO community and have realized that my break with Yeshiva is likely to be lifelong, I got to thinking about the kippa thang. I'm thinking of photoshopping a srugy on Butters.

At 11:41 AM, Blogger and so it shall be... said...

No. I'm really serious.

If you're conflicted, but tired of black velvet, just go with the black knit. It's natural, it's neutral, and very politely states: I'm just an good Jew.

At 11:41 AM, Blogger and so it shall be... said...

btw -- i bet you $100 people who odn't know you think you're a phony, living in a normal community and wearing uo kippot.

At 11:48 AM, Blogger Shifra said...

You should definately photoshop butters he'd look very cute in a srugie.

At 11:59 AM, Blogger respondingtojblogs said...


I bet you are right, but I would be an even bigger phony if I was to suddenly change my kippa. I think I would rather be considered as the strange, iconoclastic, ex-Yeshiva guy than an MO poser.

At 1:58 PM, Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

I wore black suede for years because it seemed the most uncategorizable. Eventually i found out that suede is made out of baby animals, and my nonpracticing vegetarian ideals got the better of me. So i switched to a black knit one, which also seemed at least someone unpigeonholeable. But then i thought that if i'm going srugi, i might as well go all the way and i started amassing a collection of thematic yarmulkas whose colors/patterns seem to match specific holidays :-P .

At 2:04 PM, Blogger Shifra said...

That's terrible.

Don't tell my daughter! She's already set to protest the fur coats in the shul coatroom this coming winter, this would totally push her over the edge.

At 2:15 PM, Blogger AMSHINOVER said...

Amshinover said...
Well, you finally got in touch with your inner self. There are many people who masquerade as being frum, when they really are not.

Shouldn't you all come out of the closet already?

7:36 PM

IS NOT ME!!!!!!!!!!!! :(

At 3:07 PM, Blogger SemGirl said...

Shifra maybe in halacha and haskafic outlook, you might be right. But culturally, I don't think I would ever fit into that crowd. Does that make any sense to you?


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