Articles, Videos & Statements

Articles & Videos

Click on the photos below to read the published articles: 

Does tznius mean "invisible"? No.

Interview with Gila Manolson, TOI

Erasing Women Erases Halacha

by Noam Stadlan, NY Jewish Week

You can't BE what you can't SEE

Speech by Mrs. Danielle Bloom at the Ateres Bais Yaakov of Monsey dinner.

A Modest Porposal: Take the Men Out Too

The 5TJT and The NJ Jewish Link

Ann Koffsky interview on the Nachum Segal Network

Interview with Miriam Wallach

Nachum and Miriam Schwab

Radio interview on Nachum Segal Network

Letter to the Editor by Rabbi Eli Mansour

A video performance in the style of Hamilton.

A discussion on the holiness of the face in Jewish thought.

Blog post at the TImes of Israel that debunks myths.

A shiur by Rabbi Bezalel Rudinsky, shlitah

Baby Steps

Rationalist Judaism on Lev Tahor Cover by Natan Slifkin

Interview with Dr. Leslie Klein and Ann D. Koffsky

What Modesty Is and What it Isn't

Emes Ve-Emunah post by Harry Maryles

The Invisible Jew by Merri Ukraincik

Hevria

Faces of Frumkeit by Alexandra Fleksher

5 Towns Jewish Times

Please Put the Women Back In by Ann D. Koffsky

Jewish Action 

The Women's Empire Strikes Back! by Yitzchok Adlerstein

Cross-Currents

On Deleting Pittsbugh Victim's images by Adina Miles

The NY Daily News On Flatbush Girl's Emoji Fight

Put Women Back in Orthodox Media by Shira Lankin Sheps

The Layers Project

I Refuse to be Erased by Yafit Rosen

Times of Israel

Airbrushing the Past Creates Problems in the Present by Rabbi Beryl Wein

Jewish Press

Women Haven't Disappeared...They've Uploaded Themselves by Chana Chava Perton

Hevria

Banned from Print Media, Orthodox Women Turn to Instagram by Avital Chizhik-Goldschmidt

The Forward

Jewish Magazines That Do Not Show Women's Faces are Not Truly Modest by Meira E. Schneider-Atik

Jewess Magazine

I Won't Disappear

The Queens Jewish Link

The Times of Israel

A Photo Essay of Jewish Women

Pinterest

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Statements

Bracha Goetz

Let's face it, there's nothing wrong with seeing our faces.  May they shine joyfully!


Warmly,
Bracha Goetz 

Author of 37 Jewish books for children

Rabbi Chaim Wasserman

American Jewish life after World War Two changed dramatically for several crucial reasons. One cause was the influx of eastern European Jews who emigrated from their destroyed communities as a result of the Holocaust. Their strong desire to rebuild what they lost saw the proliferation of many innovations in their new society that were not prevalent in the orthodox Jewish community at large.

One of these cultural innovations was new features and standards relating to  tzni’ut. Most recently the refusal of orthodox publications to publish the facial features in photographs of women in the name of tzni’ut. has rapidly proliferated even into non-chassidic sectors.

 

Rav Moshe Chaim Luzzato [RaMCHaL] in his classic mussar guide, Mesilat Yesharim [chapter 20] defines what authentic Chassidic practice is: He posits that every Chassidic action must be weighed in light of its ultimate outcome. If what is done looks valid but ultimately has negative results, given the time and location, then the authentic chassid must refrain from such an action. If, on the other hand, what seems for the chassid to be a negative action but results in some advantageous outcome, then such Chassidic practice is laudable. Every act, he concludes, ultimately must be judged by its perceived outcome.

The rather recent manifestation in chassidic publications, which by now has similarly spread to non-chassidic publications also, of not printing appropriate pictures of women, has created in our times and society a highly odious reaction especially among fine, frum women. These women are entirely correct in their feeling deeply embarrassed. In fact, we have here an utter disregard of kevod ha-beriyot, a debasement of human respect and dignity.

Accordingly, it is entirely proper that this in now being vigorously protested – long overdue - and which ultimately must be stopped. Surely, this is not an appropriate way to impact on the authentic practice of tzni’ut.

 

Rabbi Chaim Wasserman,

Emeritus Young Israel of Passaic-Clifton, NJ

A dialogue with Oorah (Printed publicly with their permission.)

Dear Rena,

Thank you so much for responding so candidly to my email. I really appreciate your willingness to be open and honest about your decision.

 

However, I disagree with your assessment. 

 

Fist, I think you would be surprised. Many people in the “community you get your support from” actually disagree with this policy as well, including many of the editors and the Poskim for this frum publications you speak of. I have been in contact with several of them—they are not all fans of this policy; not at all. 

 

Second: your core mission is “Kiruv Rechokim”. But if you really want to bring people closer to a true mesorah, you need to show what you genuinely believe in. This choice, as you say yourself, contradicts your Hashkafah. If you are not in line with your own beliefs…how will you be able to inspire rechokim? And, indeed, in survey after survey, it has been show that many people have trouble coming back to frum way of life because of women’s issues. 

 

Which means: Your choice to exclude women’s images is in conflict with your mission! You might raise more money…(and I don’t think you will, I think this is very possibly going to cost you money; ads that don’t connect to people lose readers; not having women’s faces means you will lose many a connection) But regardless of fund raising, you are making your own, core mission of reaching out to the estranged more difficult! 

 

I genuinely hope you reconsider for next year’s auction.

 

Thank you again for taking the time to respond to me. I’m truly impressed by your willingness too dialogue with me, and I really appreciate.

 

Best Regards, and Chag Sameach,

 

Ann Koffsky

 

On Dec 13, 2017, at 3:25 PM, Oorah Customer Service <oorah@oorah.org> wrote:

 

Hi Ann,

Thank you for taking the time to give us your feedback on the Auction book. To be honest, we too would love to include appropriate headshots of women in the book. We struggle with this question every year. While we may not agree with it hashkafically, we recognize from a fundraising standpoint that it would turn off much of our donor base, given the way this issue is perceived in the community we mainly get our support from. We are following the decision of mainstream frum publications, who have made this the standard in print media. We hope including prominent women?s voices in the Auction book is at least a step in the right direction.

 

Thank you again for expressing your opinion. We appreciate all the feedback we get.

Rena


Oorah Kiruv Rechokim


www.oorah.org

 

From: annkoffsky

Sent: Monday, December 11, 2017

To: oorah@oorah.org

Message: Dear Oorah, I was so disappointed that you chose to exclude images of women from your auction catalogue this year. This is harmful trend, that has no basis in halacha, and caused true damage to many. I hope you will choose differently next year. Thank you. Ann Koffsky

I Used to Write for Haredi Magazines

I used to write for Haredi magazines. I owe a lot to the editorial staff at those magazines--they gave me publishing opportunities and lots of writing advice. They showed me the magic of cutting just the right amount and moving around text so a piece of writing flows more logically.

 

As a reader, too, I've enjoyed Haredi magazines. I've learned about Jews around the world, absorbed beautiful divrei Torah, and benefitted from divrei chizzuk. I've laughed and cried over fiction, humor, personal essays, and poems. I've seen how frum publications have grown over the years and been impressed.

 

But the one thing that doesn't impress me is the absence of women's and older girls' faces from these publications. For that reason, I stopped writing for publications which do not print women's photos nearly one year ago. Not only did I no longer submit stories, essays, or articles to these publications, I stopped accepting offers editors made me. Eventually, I started telling them why.

 

There is no halachah preventing us from appearing in Jewish magazines. Not looking at women's photos is a chumra taken on by a minority of the community which has been pushed onto others.

 

The Mesillas Yesharim praises those who take upon themselves chumros for the right reasons. However, one's act of chassidus cannot interfere with, harm, or inconvenience other people who do not share their aspirations. 

 

Here are the interferences, harms, and inconveniences posed by eliminating female faces from magazines, books, and ads seen in Jewish communities:

 

1) I am a freelancer specializing in writing and editing. My face cannot appear in many magazines although the faces of men--some of whom offer the same services as me--can appear. This puts me at a disadvantage, as most marketing experts will tell you that presenting a smiling professional photo helps attract clientele. Female realtors, insurance agents, and others suffer from similar problems, probably to a worse degree.

 

2) Women and girls are constantly urged to dress in a way that represents tznius. When our photos--taken when we are dressed b'tznius--aren't published, it sends a message that no matter what we do, we will never succeed in the middah of tznius. It is a discouragement for those who aspirte to this important middah.

3) When girls' photos over age 6 are not printed, it sends a disturbing message that a young girl is a sex object.

4) When young people who have left the path of Torah are asked why they left the community, women frequently cite their feeling that women are not important to the Jewish world. How do they get this impression? One way, they say, is that women are simply not seen in books, magazines, and advertisements (even ones which target female buyers). We need to make women feel included for our communities to persist and thrive.

5) Girls and young women crave seeing the faces of other women--it is a natural instinct. If we want them to look for role models that are tznuah and behave as baalos middos, we need to show their faces. Otherwise, they will chas v'shalom, look elsewhere for those images. For the sake of chinuch, we need to put girls and faces in our publications.

6) Men sometimes are cruel, dismissive, and condescending to women--yes, in our communities, too. While some men certainly don't draw the conclusion that because women are unseen, they are nothing, there are certainly some men who do feel this way. Putting women's images in photos about their accomplishments, showing happy couples receiving awards or doing chessed together, showing women as chashuve people who offer wisdom, may help this sad situation. 

7) Marriage is disdained, divorce is simply too high, and we need to do something about it. Showing marriage as a happy situation of togetherness in frum media--where happy husbands and wives are smiling with their kids--will help. We need to make marriage look appealing and sound appealing, and I think this is a start.

 

Do I think there may have to be limits? For sure. You can say, "We want only headshots," or "No women in clothing or sheitel advertisements except in publications which target primarily women," or something else. You can put a female mashgiach in charge to ensure that clothing of females in photos are indeed conforming to tznius. But our faces should be seen.

 

I have taken a financial hit since I have left behind magazines which don't publish women's faces. I have had to actively seek out other forums for my work, and I am slowly making headway. Unfortunately, I have not yet made up for the reduction my income has seen. I'd love to be able to return to my former employers, for whom I owe affection as well as appreciation. But I think this issue is too important.

Rebecca Klemper, Writer

It's Personal

For me it is quite simple and very personal.

 

The lack of positive images of women in publications and media, the erasure of role models for both myself and my teenage daughter has driven me further and further away from both the yeshivish and chasidish communities--communities where my family has strong roots. My strong connection to yiddishkeit and my striving to create a home filled with Torah and involvement in ma'asim tovim seem irrelevant to a society that has decided that the faces of all women are dangerous and must be hidden.

 

I cannot show my children images of nashim tzidkaniyot because even the righteous are judged only by the fact of their femaleness. It is a stark rejoinder to my daughter that no matter our adherence to mitzvot, to gemilut hasadim, to tzniyyut, the only thing that matters is her facade.

 

That is not something I want for my children, for my grandchildren.

-Leah Finkelshteyn

Editor, Writer

A Small Still Voice

Qui Tacet Consentit – Silence Gives Consent – but I don’t.  

 

Because although until now, I have stood quietly by and watched as others said it better and others proved it stronger expressing it with the clearest words possible, it is time to add my  voice to this topic because as Albert Einstein put it so succinctly, “If I were to remain silent, I'd be guilty of complicity.”   

 

And I will not be complicit with removing pictures of women from before the face of the klal. Neither will I stand by quietly as girls’ images, regardless of age, are deleted as well. Nor will I be hushed as the downward spiral tugs us deeper into an abyss where even the echo of a woman’s name is regarded as forbidden. I will not be silent any longer because a picture is worth a thousand words and as those pictures are being erased and deleted so, by tacit agreement, is the voice and the words representing the right to be heard of all women and girls.

 

So I am here to create a picture with my words because I am not going to be muted any longer. I will be a Hakol Dimamah Dakah, adding my small still voice to the growing number of those who refuse to be silenced any longer.

-M.C. Millman

Educator and Writer, Monsey, NY

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