In this Hebrew article from Maariv, Neshot Hare’alah (Women of the Veil), Sherry Makover-Balikov interviews Rabbanit Bruria Keren and some of her followers.
To view all posts on the subject at once click the label hyper-tzniut.
The Maariv reporter interviewed Dudi Zilbershlag, editor of the haredi newspaper Bakehila and head of the charitable organization “Meir Panim.” He said that after their son Meir z”l died, Zilbershlag’s wife considered switching to a scarf from a wig. At the time their rebbe disapproved, saying it would only call more attention to her. She made the switch later, after other haredim did so in light of the Indian wig scandal [when haredi rabbis prohibited them because they might have been used in idol worship].
According to Zilbershlag, “. . . being extremely tzanua cannot prevent men from having evil thoughts about a woman . . . the opposite may be true. But this is a far cry from insulting someone who dresses that way from pure intentions.”
The rabbanit’s followers don’t see themselves as a cult. After all, each one wears a different number of layers, making them different from other types of chasidim. “Each woman and her own [level of] tzniut.” [This last statement contradicts everything else in the article. Clearly Keren and her followers believe everyone should wear veils, shawls, capes, and several additional layers of clothes. The style or exact number of layers is beside the point.]
“To say that the Rabbanit is a kind of guru . . . is a sin,” says Ann, a convert who became . . . her disciple. “The Rabbanit paved the way, and most of us take on ourselves customs and continue alone. We do meet at her home, not because of leadership, but out of friendship. ‘Everyone goes to consult with someone wiser than himself’ [but do they consult with anyone besides Rabbanit Keren?].”
“The rabbanit doesn’t talk because of all of the bad things that can come from it such as slander, gossip, joking, and flattery; therefore she took silence upon herself. It also allows her to control anger. She taught us not to speak to men, pass them objects, sit next to them on the bus, nor to ride in a taxi with a male driver. Not to be too colorful. Once I said to the rabbanit that the colors blue and black distance women from tzniut. So the rabbanit said that she wants to come close to Hashem, not to other women.”
The reporter asks Anne about the next level.
“The next level is for men to insist on capes and veils from their wives. That it will come from them, not from us. That in a few more years the haredi public will discover the sweetness of the layers of clothes and the modesty behind the veil. There have been stories of licentiousness, of adultery, may God have mercy. Women wore tight clothes and the men’s eyes popped out. The rabbanit Bruria believes that very soon a man will come to his wife and ask her not to go out without her body and face covered.”
“We are already seeing the beginning. I myself prayed for many years until my husband agreed to my wearing three capes. Afterward he wasn’t ready for me to cover my face with a veil. We had a big fight and came close to getting a get (religious divorce). But I went to R. Bruria, and got strength from her. I prayed more, until my husband accepted the cape and veil, even the shawl. One day I weakened; my evil inclination told me to stop making myself a laughingstock and that I could be modest in a scarf, blouse and skirt. So I decided to go out like that. I put on a vest, a nice skirt, and some makeup. And small, delicate earrings. I went to the bedroom and stood in front of my husband. I asked him, “How do I look?” And he said “Immodesty! Immodesty!” and didn’t move until I put on the cape and covered my face.
That is the end of the article. Feel free to link on your own blog using the label hyper-tzniut.
Stay tuned for more of my own thoughts.