I grew up in Toronto in a Conservative Jewish household. My father was raised Orthodox my mother Reform or less. Orthodox Judaism has always been intriguing to me. It is both a part of my history and unapproachable.
I remember going with my father to a Lubavitch boys choir concert as a child. The music was vibrant, the joy was obvious. At the end of the concert the men and the boys in the audience would get on the stage and dance with such vivacity. I wanted to dance up there as well. But, I was a girl, a girl in pants. I did not belong on that stage. I saw my dad spot a friend of his dancing with his sons on the stage. I felt badly for my dad because I knew that he couldn’t dance either, he had to stay with me.
That to me summed up my relationship with orthodoxy, it looked so enticing, but I didn’t belong.
Later, in university, I did a degree in Jewish Studies. There were many orthodox kids in my classes. The girls were not friendly, the guys looked scared of me. I felt as though I was wearing a cloak of bacon. A few guys were pleasant, they would say hello or discuss a test question. I had a couple of girlfriends who were Baal Teshuvaniks. They accepted me. I even spent a Shabbos or two with them. Again, I felt as though I didn’t belong. it seemed like a very warm, comforting lifestyle. One that would be possible to slip into as it seemed that all behaviour is laid out for you. There is someone to answer your every question. I think that if one of those orthodox boys had been interested in me I could have made the transformation, but on my own my devotion was not strong enough. The girls who became Baal Teshuva either had very accepting families or were willing to battle familial disapproval. That was not me. I comfortably moved within and understood the boundaries of my conservative judaism.
Perhaps eight years ago I went to Montreal to take part in a seminar to learn a method of teaching hebrew. Our community was in need of a teacher. My children were in need of a teacher. I met a wonderful group of women who had come from around the world to learn this method. Most of the women were orthodox, they all taught at Day Schools. I was the only exception. The entire seminar was taught in hebrew, it was gruelling for me. The days were 12 hours long, I had not been away from my children for this amount of time and my hebrew was not up to snuff. One very hot day I was talking to a lovely woman from New York. I believe that her husband was a rabbi and that she ran the girls’ school. We were chatting about different things. I mentioned her sheitel. I said that it seemed to me that sheitels must be liberating. She asked how so. I explained that in my mind, women are slaves to our hair. A good or a bad hair day can affect us far more than it would a man. With a sheitel you always have a good hair day without the obsession. She responded with a smile and a simple ‘Ha, really?’ She didn’t elaborate any further. I felt as though I had made some sort of faux pas.
So, now with the world wide web at my disposal I ask you ladies out there who can answer my questions if you don’t mind, is a sheitel comfortable? Are they easy? Are they hot, itchy, liberating or confining? Do you feel like yourself when you put it on or do you feel different?
I wish you all a peaceful shabbat and hope to hear back from you after.