Too bad!

I'm sorry Abbott Katz (great name! - is it for real?) has a problem with "ultra-Orthodox". (I prefer "benighted Yiddish-speakers," myself. Or "Cholentists.")

I have a problem with "Orthodox." Not with the term itself but its use. Whenever someone is observant, or considers themselves bound by halachah, the term "Orthodox" is always put into play in the article describing them. This seems to happen most often in the Times.

I do accept the term when my work friends or colleagues use it to describe me, because they're not looking for a lecture on twentieth-century Jewish religious or intellectual history. But I'd rather be called Conservative, or frum-egal, or sho(y)mer mitsvo(s/t), or (halachically) observant/pious/devout/hyper-religious, or (failing all else) "that guy with the yarmulke/kippah/lid/skullcap/hat."


  1. Glad you liked the name - yes, Abbott is for real, though my Hebrew names are Avraham Yitzchak.


  2. It's somewhat easier -- but not a slam-dunk -- to escape being (mis)identified as Orthodox when you're "that gal with the yarmulke/kippah/lid/skullcap."

    (I was once asked whether I was wearing a kippah because I was a married woman. But the same [Jewish, non-Orthodox, non-American] interlocutor also wanted to insist that I was "basically Orthodox but think it's okay for women to wear pants." Um, no, I'm not really Orthodox, but pants are not the important distinguishing factor!)

  3. I go even farther. I think it's okay for men to wear pants, too. The next thing you know, I'll be saying pant-wearing dogs are within the pale. They are, too, but I think they have to be attached to sweaters.