A friend of mine attended an odd wedding and shared some pictures of the new fashions. The one on the left is wearing three head coverings: one under her chin, one covering her forehead, and one going all the way down her back. This is in addition to a full-length cloak.
The woman on the right is also wearing a cloak.
It’s standard in some circles for brides to wear completely opaque veils. Usually the mother helps guide her, but at this chupah the bride’s mother wore a decorated “box” over her entire head. Faces were uncovered during the dancing, but sexes are strictly divided by that point.
According to the Haaretz article, a woman called Rabbanit (rebbetzin, wife of the rabbi) Keren is behind this approach. She has ten children and leaves the house as infrequently as possible. She also maintains a “taanit dibur,” a speech fast, except for four hours a week when she gives classes and treats women as an alternative therapist. I don’t know how she manages not to speak with her husband and children. She wears ten layers of clothing (one for each child?) and advises women to switch the heels of their shoes so that they won’t click. Makeup and perfume are also taboo.
Toward the end of the Haaretz article, the author quotes a professor who suggests that this extreme modesty is similar to anorexia. I agree; it’s obsessive behavior based on a desire to deny one’s femininity. Or maybe I’m being judgmental?
When rabbis in certain circles emphasize women’s modesty above all other virtues, it’s no wonder that some will take things to the extreme.
Rafi helped me out by blurring the faces (as requested by my friend) on this additional picture, where you can see the bride:
Update: In a Hebrew article from Maariv, Neshot Hare’alah (Women of the Veil), Sherry Makover-Balikov interviews Bruria Keren and some of her followers.
Further update: Bruria Keren was arrested for child abuse in 2009.