Sunday, November 06, 2005

Good Will Hunting

I recently read “Unchosen” by Hella Winston, and while indeed well written, I felt that her take was distorted by personal bias and by the disgruntled voices of those she ultimately heeded. Suddenly, I needed to vent.

I am not usually a fan of blogging. While I love the concept of freedom of expression, I am usually of the opinion that one’s dirty laundry shouldn’t be aired. Not because it’s technically wrong – but just because it is inherently improper.

Recently there was an influx of heimish bloggers. Most of who admittedly or subconsciously attempt to portray the SatWillSidic life as one of oppression and a medieval backwardness, and who assume that for one not to find discontent it must be due to one’s lack of intellect. In light of the above – I felt an open and intelligent albeit female take on the issue, was called for.

As a Satmar Williamsburg woman with insatiable quest for knowledge and an IQ of 145, I have never felt stifled or oppressed by our practices, not by our particular brand of observances, my religion in general, or my family’s convictions in particular. My husband too, an observant man himself, while schooled locally has managed to educate himself in English, math and all aspects of IT. And he subsequently B’H succeeded in business. To quote Matt Damon in ‘Good Will Hunting’ you don’t have to drop a hundred fifty grand on an “education you coulda' got for a dollar fifty in late charges at the public library.”

I believe that ultimately we all have a say in our destiny. Hashem gave us that option. While I will never deny that there are faults within our community (and which community is free of fault??) I am strongly of the opinion that we each have the choice to live a life of fulfillment, contentment and one saturated with love.

I plan to discuss more of Hella Winston’s work (‘Unchosen’) as well as blog about my own take on the shortcomings, virtuous deeds as well as general talk about life ‘on the inside’. Because I believe that it is necessary for someone to finally point out that while it is indeed true that there are those in the community with a more limited ability to relate to people (be it their kids, their spouses or those who don’t share their convictions), the extreme cases are B’H the exception rather than the rule. For the most part we are a community of well meaning, yet ultimately human beings. With faults like everyone else.

We are a sensation only because of who we are, what we stand for - and the fact that we sometimes forget that.


At November 06, 2005 10:14 PM, Blogger ch chick said...

Finally, a breath of fresh air has been breathed into the Jewish Blogshpere. The ranting and ravings of every "SatWillSidic" was getting mighty boring an repeatitive. I look forward to reading your future posts.

At November 07, 2005 5:15 AM, Blogger Cosmic X said...

"I am not usually a fan of blogging. While I love the concept of freedom of expression, I am usually of the opinion that one’s dirty laundry shouldn’t be aired."

Blogging does not necessarily mean hanging the dirty laundry in public. You could also blog about the good aspects of your community, which are many, and do not receive publicity.

Looking forward to reading more.

At November 07, 2005 7:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


At November 08, 2005 1:12 AM, Blogger Der Shygetz said...

Nice start - nice to see our ways and our Torah lifestyles defended by the finest and most intelligent people in our communities. I come from a community that is regarded as far less restrictive than yours, but at the end of the day there is more in common between our Chassidishe kehillos than some would think, and we have far more in common than we do with the frei velt. (not sure about modern and non-chassidic frum).

Have a look at my parody when you get a chance - basically its message is that the inhabitants of our community's sewers do not represent us - they are sadly part of human nature, so we might as well laugh at them rather than wring our hands over them or worship them for their ill gotten gains (pardon the unclear writing - it is late at night!)

At November 08, 2005 5:57 AM, Anonymous Lubo on the outer said...

Does the Satmar Rebbe (whoever is in charge these days) allow you to use the Internet ?
I thought the Rebbe callled internet Yetzer Hora

At November 08, 2005 10:33 AM, Blogger Totally Content said...

DS- I agree with you wholeheartedly, and that is something I strongly wish to point out with my blog. That every society/community has their share of scum. (Who's idiocy can manifest on itself of either side of the spectrum.) To judge a community by the few that stand out, is unfair and an incomplete analysis.

lubo - We are in charge of our own lives, of our own destiny. Every single one of us.
While it is wonderful to have leaders who can guide us, and it would certainly behoove us to heed their advice - it is just that: guidance and advice. (I am not familiar with the Satmar Rebbe referring to the internet at the Yetzer Hora, but I don't doubt that he used some choice words to describe it. Which is not only his prerogative - - but he is probably right.)

What I wish to point out is that while we have a Torah for instructions and rebbes for guidance - we need not fear retribution for these indiscretions.

Our lives are our own to ruin as we see fit. (more on that later.)

At November 08, 2005 11:01 AM, Anonymous queensmaidel said...

Shaitel--I just want to know exactly how are you defining scum? It seems like a very harsh word to me. Also, I myself know many people who have suffered retribution for their indescretions, or perceived indescretions. Why is it so important to you to deny that these things occur? Isn't it only then that we can make things better?

At November 08, 2005 11:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shaitel, do you tell your friends in Willy that you watch movies? Do you tell your kids that? Do they talk about you watch in class?
Do your kids know you got internet?
Do they tell their classmates?

At November 08, 2005 11:48 AM, Anonymous A LUCH UN KOPE said...




At November 08, 2005 12:28 PM, Anonymous simchasvnachas said...

Please stop insulting shtriemel by comparing this intellectual wanabe to the great heretic.
Besides, I don't think he ever proclaimed to having a 145 IQ.
Shietel, how would you know your IQ score? Did you take an online test?

At November 08, 2005 12:45 PM, Blogger Totally Content said...

No one has ever reprimanded us for it. (Not that it isn’t something that I often reprimand myself for.) I don’t go encouraging others to watch, not because I am afraid of upsetting people, which I don’t doubt that it will – but because I admire all those that can refrain from wasting their time on empty nonsense. No. I don’t admire narrow-mindedness, although I do admire simplicity and purity – something I know that I personally can’t possibly achieve.

Queen - If people are indeed suffering for their ‘perceived indiscretions’ I feel truly sorry. But I am being completely honest when I tell you that I have not yet heard of anyone who that might apply to. There are vigilantes in every community. Some are sanctioned by the society – others aren’t. But there are no police or any other form of law enforcement that I am aware of.

Luch – Other than laughing out loud at that comment, I am going to pretend to be deeply offended. How can you, who know me so well, doubt my femininity? (A word you still can’t pronounce. )

At November 08, 2005 1:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

No one has ever reprimanded us for it.
You're not answering the question.
Do any of the higher ups know about it? would you be ok with your children talking about this stuff to friends in school?

At November 08, 2005 2:15 PM, Blogger Totally Content said...

anon - Yes, my friends and family know I watch movies and have the internet. They do to. and no, no one has ever reprimanded us for it.
I grew up with newspapers, magazines, books and an occasional movie. I was never encouraged to cover anything up, and always freely discussed it with friends.

There were those times as a kid that I felt embarrassed by the fact that I did own some of the stuff, cuz like many kids – I might have wanted to fit in with a different crowd. But I never refrained from speaking about it due to fear that my parents will be hurt by my ‘revelations’.

At November 08, 2005 3:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh,so you must be one of those who they call "bummmy". Do the naighbors want their kids t oplay with yours?
Another question: Do you discuse your intrests with the vieblech at Daffys?

At November 08, 2005 4:28 PM, Anonymous queensmaidel said...

Well, I am truly happy for you that you have not suffered but maybe this will wake you up a little to those who do and maybe you will even stand up for them rather than calling them scum.

At November 08, 2005 5:41 PM, Blogger modern chassidish said...

queen: Let's be fair. She is not saying that those who suffer are scum but those who do inflict suffering on others are.
But I do think sheital cops out on the issues. Not all societies claim to have a moral highground to the extent of the frum world. Sure some do but most do not. So there is a pretense and that's a problem.

At November 08, 2005 6:43 PM, Anonymous Mo said...

As a Satmar Williamsburg woman with insatiable quest for knowledge and an IQ of 145, I have never felt stifled or oppressed by our practices, not by our particular brand of observances, my religion in general, or my family’s convictions in particular.

Well, good for you (really), but that is NOT the prevailing thought among Satmar. Women pursuing intellectual pursuits - both secular (especially) and religious - is indeed frowned upon, except in very limited ways (being a teacher, going to a trade school for parnasah, etc.)

(And yes, I do have extensive experience in this area as my wife grew up in Williamsburg in a chassidic household, I have Satmar and Viznitz brothers-in-law, etc.) It was made very clear to my wife while growing up that her high intelligence was "wasted" on a girl. Perhaps the extent to which she was taught this was not common, but the general attitude was not.

Your situation is very fortunate and I am happy for you.

At December 01, 2005 3:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Watching movies is definately not accepted as the norm in willy world. And I don't think the higher ups in satmer would appreciate it either. I'm sure you can't share with everyone that you watch movies have a blog and so on. There's no freedom of speech without some reprecussion. Hella's book is indeed very helpful to ppl who need help to sort out their oppressed feelings.

At December 07, 2005 7:20 PM, Blogger Semgirl said...

I am always fascinated and excited to see another blog written by a Heimishe lady. Looking forward to reading your posts and learning about you.

It may even dispel some of the prejudices instilled in me, growing up against, very Chasidishe women, by the hardcore Bais Yacob schools that I went to.

At December 08, 2005 1:04 AM, Blogger Totally Content said...

Glad to have you join Semgirl. I do hope to do my community justice - in successfully proving that we are nicer than what we may have been preconceived as.

At December 08, 2005 2:37 PM, Blogger meshulach said...

Saying that you can watch movies, check out all the books in the local library, have everyone know about it, or at least not sweeping it under the rug, and still being perceived as regular upright typical member in any Chasidic society in Willi-town or anywhere else over the world is an outright lie, Nothing less, maybe some more.
Which one of us doesn't know of the new decree which was recently announced by all prominent Chasidishe and Litvishe rabunim, that anyone who has a computer at home with internet, (in some places a pc itself is enough) will have his children expelled from school. So what do you call that? Is there still no need to fear retribution for these indiscretions?
Whom exactly are you trying to fool? One does not need to have a high IQ to know that the precise opposite is true.

At December 08, 2005 5:29 PM, Blogger Totally Content said...

Meshulach you apparently do believe that what you are saying is the truth, so I will not call you an outright liar. But I will have to say that you are in fact wrong.

Nothing in my post was inaccurate. I am who I am in the community - a proud and respected member. And no, I don't need to pretend to be someone that I am not in order to retain that respect.

The hardest thing that I have to deal with on here, which is incidentally also the saddest - is that so many have a difficult time believing me.

I certainly have no intention of fooling anyone - not out there, or on here. I was raised to be true to myself at all times - I don't intend to stop now.

At December 08, 2005 8:55 PM, Blogger Totally Content said...

We have many newcomers here, referred no doubt by the link on HR's blog. I wish to point out that while I do welcome all the comments - this is the first of many posts, and that the bulk of the dialogue tends to happen at the most recent one.

See y'all around.

At January 10, 2006 12:08 AM, Blogger RoZ said...

This blog is amazing - going to read through it slowly. It will be fascinating for me to see what life is like in your close knit community. I always wondered.

At February 13, 2012 1:33 PM, Anonymous yoel said...

can someone with an iq like yours function on the chareidi lifestyle. From your piece here it seems not


Post a Comment

<< Home