Who knew blue denim could throw your life into such turmoil!?
No, it’s nothing major… just… well… how do I say…
I feel guilty when I wear jeans.
Yup. I said it.
So here’s the story. About 10 years ago I started my transition from hippie, Indigo Girls lovin’, free-form Friday night services followed by going out for ice cream Judaism that was mainly focused on social action (aka Reform) to a skirt wearing, long sleeves in the summer, Baruch Hashem sayin’, Kosher keepin’, shomer negiah, shomer shabbis, “Flipping Out” “Baal Teshuvah.” (Though I slightly object to being called a Baal Teshuvah. I have always been a religious Jew but my observance has just been different… like wearing tzitzit and a kippah and laying teffilin… In fact, I started a group called Frum From Nifty because there are so many former Reform kids goin’ Ortho these days!)
So I went from one end to the other… then I found my way to a middle ground where I felt comfortable with a foot in both worlds. I understand the WHY of why we do certain things and make (Torah) educated decisions in how I live my life.
<— To the left = tznius To the right = not tznius —>
What does that mean? Well, it kinda means that I have my own Talia sect of Judaism. I am fairly sure no one else out there is just like me in my observance and that makes life hard. I am just as comfortable on the streets of Crown Heights as Denver. I’ll drive on Saturdays but I try not to spend money. I (try to) davven every morning and evening and say my brachot over food and drink… okay, I’ll admit there have been many shehakols tossed in over the last bite as I kick myself for forgetting. Clearly, I am far too “religious” (really, I prefer the word observant) for the Reformies and not quite there yet for my Chabad family of friends. Anyway… this is starting to get long winded for a blog. 🙂
So here is my dilemma… I found the ideas and ideals of tzniut fascinating. I did the full on long sleeves, long (not so fashionable) skirts, high necks, etc for about two years until I realized that while it had helped me rediscover my femininity, break the jeans cycle (you know what I am talking about… nothin’ but jeans because they are comfy and easy), and realize that I can dress for myself and not for anyone else… the severely restricted nature of the ‘uniform’ I adopted was certainly not me. SO, I decided to keep the skirts in the wardrobe but not deny myself the joy of jeans. However, I would still dress in a modest fashion even while wearing pants. Not kidding, folks, this took me years to figure out…
So, fast forward through the awkward parts, today I wear skirts (modest skirts – knee length or longer) at least five days a week. Allowing for the need to feel a good fitting pair of jeans on myself once or twice. The added impetus for this is that I live in Colorado. Don’t know if you know this but… uhm… it snows here… and gets cold… a breeze up a skirt (even with tights) ain’t fun in 3 degree weather. Today is one of those days. I mean it isn’t 3 degrees but it is forecast to snow and be kinda crummy and I am just going to the gym, work, home, and doctor’s appointment… damn you rationalization!!! Point is, sometimes it feels more high maintenance to wear a skirt. I have shoes that look great under pants that I can’t wear with a skirt. Even a long jean one. Anywho… I’ve noticed, increasingly, as I wear my pants the few days a month that I do, I have more and more quilt about it.
I mean, I have friends in Crown Heights (aka the worldwide headquarters of Chabad) that wear skirts rain or shine, snow, sleet, hurricane, blizzard… why do I have such an issue? Well clearly, they were raised that this was the thing to do and pants aren’t really an option. Not me… my mom STILL to this day remarks when I wear a skirt, “Oh, you’re wearing a long skirt, huh?” or “You look so Frummy.” And I used to get defensive… like I didn’t want anyone to notice that THAT was exactly what I was going for. But now, now I just say, “Yup, I do. Thanks.” 🙂
Another point of contention with my mom (who was raised in the Conservative movement) is that I want to cover my hair when I get married. We haven’t had the convo outright but I know she doesn’t love the idea BUT she is happy when I am happy. On one hand it gets to be an outward sign of your Judaism but on the other hand, it truly is something you do for yourself… like the laws of taharat mishpacha which I find essential.
I think it is through education and really understanding the laws and traditions and making up your own mind that helps you stick to your choices. And this jeans thing, I think I’m just being a wuss… either throw out the jeans or suck it up and embrace my decision… yes, I know, I answered my own question.
Check out my blog at Patheos.com – AshkanOrthoNewalForm-ish
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