The Summer Camp Rules for a Fundamentalist Jewish Sect

In response to the posting about the ridiculously strict rules at Bob Jones University, a reader sent me a “Guide for a Yiddishe Summer Experience” (PDF) — basically the summer camp rulebook for an ultra-orthodox group of Hasidic Jews.

Check out these bits…

That last bit is the scariest. 1 guy, 1 girl in a car? Not ok. 3 guys, 1 girl in a car? What could possibly go wrong…?

The same guidebook also points out that women (sometimes as young as the age of 3) cannot sing in front of men. The reason? I asked a Jewish friend and she replied, “Because women’s voices are inherently arousing.” The men can’t have that so they forbid the women from singing in front of them. (Did I mention some of these women were only three?)

What the hell…

Did anyone ever attend camps with rules like this?

Please tell us more about them…

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

    When I read this, with the bits of Hebrew and Yiddish thrown in, I’m hearing it in Mel Brooks’s voice, and it’s pretty damn funny…

  • gski

    There really is just one god.
    But what about dancing, can we dance?

    • Josh

       Dancing is fine, but only with people of your same gender.

      I’ve been to an orthodox (although non-Hasidic) wedding, and it’s amazing how crazy they get with the dancing.  Me on one side of the room and women on the other, with a partition between them.  It’s basically their one chance to cut loose, and they definitely take advantage of it!

    • Gringa

       Actually, you can dance but you cannot touch.  I had a hasidic boy in my class, and during gym class we had a section on square dancing.  He was not allowed to touch girls hands, which makes it tough to square dance.  They eventually gave him plastic gloves so that he could participate without “touching.”  Of course, being the mature 7th graders we were, we females basically spent the entire time accidentally bumping into him in places besides his hands.  He got a little annoyed by it but also thought it was funny.  Perhaps if he were older, he would have gotten mad, but he didn’t mind.  He also told us that he lived with his mother in a tiny house and that his father had slept at his house exactly 6 times.  Guess how many kids there were in that family?

      • gski

         Nature before nurture, he enjoyed it as much as the next guy.

  • The Other Weirdo

    Muslims basically cover their women up in burlap sacks because they have no self-control. It’s amazing to me how similar these people are. As a Jew, albeit a secular one, I find this highly embarrassing.

    • Stev84

      Fundamentalist Christians are exactly the same way about modesty. Check out Libby Anne’s blog. She frequently writes about their screwed up views about modesty. Other than not requiring veils, there is really no difference.

      See this:
      http://www.patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism/2012/06/worthwhile-reads-the-modesty-survey.html

      Basically they are taught to sexualize everything about a women, so they are aroused by the most trivial things. But of course masturbation is forbidden too.

    • Conspirator

      They all are basing their laws on the exact same thing.  Muslims, Christians and Jews share the Abrahamic origins.  Christians largely shed those old beliefs when Christ came along, except where it involves homosexuality and for some reason shoving the Ten Commandments (which originates in the same places as all those other stupid laws) into public places.  

      • Flarecarrot

        Manichean influence on Christianity is large part of their obsession with sex.

  • He_is_Risen

    Some of these rules are over the top.  But think what they are tying to accomplish.  They are trying to keep the innocense of children and protect them.  Counelors of same gender to not seem that far off to me.  Your last comment has to do with having witnesses and accountability.  While I would not go as far as some of these rules go, they are creating a culture to prevent sin from happening. 

    • Stev84

       Nonsense. Children at that age don’t even think about relationships in sexual terms

      • Ibis3

        Not only is the objectification of women a problem, this sexual separation policy assumes that counsellors won’t consider “sinning with” (actually abusing) children of the same sex. No need for monitoring, reporting policies etc. since boy children only have to worry about being too close to or alone with those unclean sluts.

      • Kodie

        I have heard that sleep-away camp is a place where many tweens have their first sexual experience, probably younger than if they didn’t go to camp. These rules are religious and girl-blaming, but there’s only so much supervising that can go on over curious kids by supervisors who aren’t their parents unless they make it religious. 

        • Stev84

          Children and teenagers are two different things. They have rules even about 6 year olds, which is just absurd. When people say things like “innocent children”, they usually mean younger kids

    • Slade

      I assume by sin you mean premarital sex.  That is a bit of a stretch.  If you think these rules are going to keep teenagers apart, it can only be because you don’t have kids, or you are oblivious to what they are doing.  Are you for abstinence-only sex education as well?  Also, notice how these rules begin the cycle of misogyny and male dominance early on.

      • Kodie

         Kids at camp are about 13 or 14 at the oldest. I’m not for abstinence-only education, but it may surprise people that they don’t have a couple more years to worry about what their kids are up to with kids of the opposite (or same) sex, much less counselors.

      • http://www.facebook.com/avichapman Avi Chapman

        I went to a Jewish camp one summer. I was known as the ‘Shabbos Walk Guide’ because I led the boys through the woods around the back of the lake to the girls’ camp and then made contact with the girls so they could come out to the same wooded area, where people would engage in ‘Shabbos Walk’s. Alas, I was always the guide and never the walker.

    • Conspirator

      These religious laws are what are used by men to claim that they can’t control their base desires, and thus blame whatever happens on the women.  It’s the same crap Muslims use.  And it’s the same thing with rapists who say “she was asking for it because of how she was dressed”.   Somehow it’s not the man’s fault.

      They are not trying to prevent sin.  The men making these rules are trying to make sure it’s the woman’s fault when the man does something wrong. 

    • CelticWhisper

       Unfortunately, since “sin” is a null concept, it’s all a great big waste of time.

      • Kodie

        I don’t really agree with the “innocence” of childhood as expected people to mature around 17 or 18 without once considering their hormones. I don’t even consider a person around the age of 3 to be necessary to “keep” innocent, no I’m not saying have sex with a toddler, but children are shielded from reality and that growing toward maturity is a process, not something that suddenly comes up around the age of 12 or 15 or 18. But parents send their young teens or pre-teens to camp not to have their sexual discoveries. The parents are equally innocent of what kids know and think about. Summer sleep-away camp is huge with Jews for some reason that’s not as much a deal with non-Jews. I think the parents want assurance their 8-14 year old, even if it is in religious policy, are not spending their time being exposed to or having opportunity to discover their sexuality. I sort of think it’s unreasonable of the parents to expect their kids to keep that bottled up, but they’re paying a camp to watch their kids and to hopefully not have that uncorked. Making policies where the potential for gay kids or pedophile counselors is just something they trust away, whereas the normal maturation of most kids would be to befriend someone of the opposite sex, to get a crush, to go hide somewhere and fumble around, which they are not ready for, which they pay the camp to make certain there is no time or place that can happen.

        • amycas

          I don’t think parents should be in a position to dictate when or where their preteen kids have their first sexual experience (which is separate from sexual abuse, and doesn’t necessarily have to include touching, some psychologists count a child’s first “crush” as their first sexual experience). Abuse is different, but sexual exploration (minor touching or looking at others) between kids of that age (from about 9-13) is actually quite common, and not considered abuse by most psychologists. This type of thing will probably happen whether or not you send them to summer camp, and these kinds of rules only serve to make the kids feel extra guilty about sex, which is unhealthy. Kids should not be made to feel guilty about their own sexual urges.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Chris-Leithiser/593361421 Chris Leithiser

      And since the Roman Catholics, for example, have had such success with preventing sin by making all the priests and altar boys male…

    • cipher

      What difference does it make to you? In your worldview, they’re all going to hell.  Who cares about what they do in the meantime?

    • TheAnalogKid

      If sin was real.

  • Conspirator

    Hemant, you read 21 wrong.  Multiple girls, one guy, that’s ok.  Multiple guys, one girl, might not be ok.  They are probably stating that a situation with say three teenage guys and one girl is not ok.  But multiple adult males with a young girl is probably safe.  

    Number seven is pretty messed up though.  A boy might be drowning, and if he is older than nine a girl can’t save him.  Now how fucked up is that?  

    • Maverick

      Hemant had it right.
      Unless they’ve gone of the deep end, saving a life would override the cooties rules. On the other hand, they might have a twisted logic to prohibit boys and girls touching even then.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Chris-Leithiser/593361421 Chris Leithiser

        Saving a life overrides any other rules, essentially.  Or so I’ve been told.

        • Conspirator

          One would hope, but it does state “If necessary or the boy is in need of help, a girl may touch a boy until boy is 9″.  

          Certainly sounds to me like if a boy is over 9 and his life is in danger, a girl can’t help.  In fact it sounds as if that’s specifically prohibited.  Why else would it say “If necessary or the boy is in need of help”?  

          • Gringa

             But she cannot even swim in the same pool, even fully dressed.  How will she save anyone?

            • Conspirator

              Boy is swimming alone and girl happens by, boy is choking, boy is bleeding profusely from some wound, boy is stuck on train tracks and train is approaching, it doesn’t matter what the situation is, the rule states she can’t touch him.  

              • http://www.facebook.com/people/Chris-Leithiser/593361421 Chris Leithiser

                And again, the rule is void if necessary to save a life.  Judaism is practical like that.

                • Conspirator

                  One would hope so.  It’s just odd how the rule is worded above.  It seems to forbid help.  

                • http://conuly.dreamwidth.org/ Conuly

                   Shoe-tying help, not life-saving help, I’m sure.

                  Though really, nobody should ever go swimming without a capable buddy. And I’m sure that in a sex-segregated camp, even without the fundie rules, your buddy is the same sex as you.

              • Jo

                Could she touch him with one of those grabber things for old people? Should we be issuing these out to all the people in orthodox summer camps?

                • CelticWhisper

                  The only way these rules would be acceptable is if they were to mandate that cross-gender contact be performed through piloting giant robots, with the giant robots doing the touching.

                  Because if there is one thing the world needs more than anything else, it’s more giant robots.

                • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

                  Probably not on the Sabbath.

      • Conspirator

        If yichud is similar in definition to kosher, then Hemant read it wrong.  With kosher you say that something is kosher if it falls within the kosher laws.  If saying something is yichud means it is forbidden, well even then it says “might not” with respect to multiple men with a single woman.  

        From wikipedia: 
        Seclusion is only prohibited when there is but a lone man present. Additionally, the presence of older children, the man’s close female relatives, his wife or a woman and her mother in law would negate the prohibition. In these instances, the presence of the other individuals would serve to provide a check on the man’s behavior. One additional, unrelated woman or any number of minors (under 13, unless they are of an age where they can speak, but do not understand the concept of sex) do not negate the yichud laws. 

        The general theme of these rules seems to be that a man cannot be trusted alone with a woman.   But what is stated in rule 21 above does not necessarily state that in all cases multiple men can be trusted with one women.  It clearly states that only in some cases is that acceptable.  

    • observer

      Well aren’t we selfish? you’re drowning, but rather then getting a male to save you, you want a girl to touch you? I’ll bet the reason you’re drowning is because of the condoms weighing you down, along with the the future sin you hope to commit. Mark my words, one minute you’re drowning and some girl saves you, the next you’re doing god-knows-what right then and there. No, you deserve to drown, that’ll teach you to have impure thoughts as you’re dying.(/fundie mode)

      • CelticWhisper

         I was going to crack wise about how the world would be a better place if everyone just had more thank-you sex, but re-reading your comment, I can’t get over how scarily believable it is.

        Aside from the last sentence, I swear I’ve heard arguments like that made in total sincerity when lurking on christian forums.

  • Lee Miller

    Religion is an evil force in the world, no matter what label it carries. 

  • Gus Snarp

    21 is interesting, it’s approaching a sensible rule. The Boy Scouts, for all their flaws, do not allow any adult to be alone with any child, period. That’s a good rule. Technically the rule does not apply to say, a seventeen year old with an eleven year old, but it wouldn’t apply in this case as only an adult can serve as a driver for children on Boy Scout activities. In this case, a group of teenage boys with one girl sound like a horrendous idea.

    Of course, they’re approaching this from a very different angle from the Boy Scouts. The Boy Scouts have the goal of preventing child abuse, these camps have the goal of preventing any kind of sexual temptation among campers, which is kind of absurd, meanwhile there’s no rule really similar to the Boy Scout rules to protect a young boy from an adult leader.

    • Conspirator

      What’s listed above is vague.  Rule 21 says there are times it’s ok and times it’s not.  It doesn’t go into detail.  I highly doubt the loophole is there to allow a group of boys to be alone with a unrelated, single girl of a similar age.  It’s not completely clear what all cases they are trying to cover in their rules.

      • Tom

        Bear in mind that an awful lot of religious laws, by their very nature of being alleged proclamations from god, have no actual logical derivation at all.  Trying to figure out what the original intent of such laws might have been (in order to obey the spirit where the letter is ambiguous) is a fool’s errand, because there often was none. 

        I find it particularly irksome when apologists try to retroactively figure out a scientific reason for why a given religious law (that they’ve already cheerfully followed without any such reason) might be useful, because a) it often just plain *isn’t*, and b) even if it does turn out to be useful, it’s often due to underlying processes that the original authors could never have known about or understood, and so it may be valid, but it still doesn’t validate the thought-process that created it.

        • Conspirator

          I don’t know, if someone comes up with a good explanation for a religious law in the past, that can help invalidate it.  For instance kosher food laws.  Many were made because people did not understand germ theory, bacteria, etc.,  and if you mishandle pork, shellfish and other foods you can get real sick.  So once tribal elders or what have you saw the pattern they decreed that scary man in the sky says not to eat those things.  Ignorant village folk are scared of the man in the sky, so they stop eating those, and everyone is healthier.  It’s an easy way to handle the problem.

          That is in all likelihood how those rules came about, and when you apply logic to them, you quickly realize that it invalidates the idea of those rules having to come from god.  And when there’s other laws, like not wearing two types of cloth, that make absolutely no sense whatsoever, and no one can come up with a reason for it, well it makes it hard to justify that comes from god also. 

          • Tom

            That’s one possibility.  Another is that the rules are simply a matter of arbitrary tribal identity – “if you want to prove you’re in our tribe, you must not eat pork” – and the ones who accidentally chose the stuff that happened to work were the ones that thrived and came to dominate the area.  Just look at the Mormons’ bizarre aversion to hot beverages – what possible benefit is there to that?  It certainly hasn’t given them an evolutionary edge over other social groups – but it might have done.  But it shows they’re pious, loyal members if they stick to it (and it works best when it’s a real sacrifice – pork and coffee are delicious).  These rules actually work better if there’s no apparent reason to follow them; it makes joining the tribe a show of faith as well as sacrifice.

            This is the damn problem – they don’t show their working, so there’s no way to know what the hell they were really thinking, or if they were thinking at all.  You could be wrong, I could be wrong, or both of us could be wrong about how they actually came up with it.  This means that, even if they’ve been right so far, they are not in possession of a reliable truth-finding mechanism.

            • Conspirator

              Don’t pretty much all of the hot beverages have caffeine (tea, coffee, hot chocolate) and aren’t caffeinated drinks forbidden because that’s a stimulant?  Similarly they don’t allow alcohol.  

            • Kodie

              Well this is complicated by the fact that my ex-boyfriend was at the time was a volatile unmedicated bipolar person, but he hated Jews because their orthodox dress was so offensive to him. Why can’t they just dress normally? While I am not necessarily accomodating to orthodox Jews, their dress poses the least of my problems. Yes, they wear black all the time, and hats, and the females cover their heads and wear dresses or skirts covering the knees, even in the winter when they cover their knees under the skirt with some other legging and play in the snow, even if they are 2-year-old girls. (I’m not a parent, but I still think there is a Jew store or they must alter the garments themselves, as a normal “dress” for a toddler ends innocently above the knees). But they wear a skirt or dress, “easy access”, non-functional even if they wear equivalent of pants underneath. They have to be ready to go if the man wants, and they have to be covered up as soon as they’re ready to give birth. Something I didn’t know before I lived here, dated that guy, and was exposed to a culture of orthodox Jews in my community, but they have as many kids as Catholics or quiverfuls.

              This does show their piety, this does set them apart and make them easily identifiable to themselves and to others as belonging to an out-of-fashion tribe (ie. one who does not care more for fashion than for the laws of go). I like to be able to identify them by their dress code. If someone is going to think different thoughts than modern normal thoughts, I think that’s ok that they also dress differently. You wouldn’t want to wait to ask them to join you for cheeseburgers.  Dressing like you don’t belong to modern culture is a plus for those who also don’t, and for those who do. There is no reason to dress that way other than to set yourself apart, and I, for one, appreciate that they do, even if they don’t have to.

          • amycas

            You can get just as sick by mishandling poultry, or beef, or almost any kind of food. I just don’t think that the people who originally came up with these laws were doing it because of food borne illnesses. I think it was just a matter of tribal identity and control.

      • Gus Snarp

        Yeah, you’re probably right. Mainly they want to keep girls and boys separated, but I’m not clear on what their idea of appropriate supervision is from this. Really they just want you to ask a Rav before you do anything that has anything to do with the opposite sex.

    • OverlappingMagisteria

       Agreed. I was a counselor for a nature-based day camp and we had the same rule: a counselor can’t be alone with a camper. Whenever a kid needed a trip to the bathroom we’d have to ask “Does anyone else need to go?” and if no one did, we’d drag someone else anyway.
      It was actually to both prevent abuse by the counselors and also to prevent false accusations from the campers. More witnesses present at all times.
      Though my guess is that at this Hasidic camp, it has much more to do with messed up gender laws than anything else.

  • Slade

    This is simply another case of childish misogynistic rules – change the Yiddish/Hebrew to Arabic and no one could tell it apart from similar Islamic idiocy.

  • Anonymous

    story o’ my life;)

  • cipher

    They’re gender-segregated from an early age, never properly socialized, and as a result, they grow up to be absolutely obsessed with sex.

    Of course, as is to be expected, they have problems with child molestation to rival the Catholic Church. Here’s the difference, however: in the Church, the hierarchy protects the molesters. In Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) communities, everyone does. Anyone who reports molestation, abuse or anything immoral or illegitimate is branded a moser – an informer – and in their world, there is nothing worse. You’re ostracized from the community (and be aware that these people have fifth grade educations at best, and are totally unequipped to make a living outside of their world), you lose family as well as friends and when you die – well, you can imagine where they believe you go.

    Anderson Cooper did a report on it just the other day: http://ac360.blogs.cnn.com/2012/06/18/tonight-on-ac360-child-sex-abuse-scandal/

    Believe me, the elderly rabbi talking to Tuchman is a rarity in their world, and as he says, he receives death threats on a daily basis.

    It’s an utterly toxic subculture that is, for a variety of reasons, dying a slow, excruciatingly painful death – yet all the while, they trumpet to liberal and secular Jews that their numbers are growing (due almost entirely to their irresponsible rates of reproduction) and that they’ll outlast us. These people are, collectively, so out of touch with reality that they make evangelicals seem almost like objective realists by comparison. Hemant, you have no idea.

    • Bo Tait

      And you just leave us hangin like that? Please go on.

  • Rikka

    Welcome to orthodox life! 

    I had a friend who went from reform Judaism to orthodox Judaism during college, really in the course of freshman year. He is shomer negiah, applies kol isha devoutly, even though he was an aspiring musician, and neither cuts his beard, nor wears colors other than black and white, etc. etc. I think the list of things he can’t do must be longer than things he can…

    The dress doesn’t bother me, and kol isha seems silly, but whatever, that’s his choice. Being friends with someone who is shomer negiah, however, was something I found extremely difficult. He is not allowed to hug me, to sit with me on the same bench, to shake my hand, high five, etc. and when I forgot –which was understandable as this was a swift transition– and I tried to bump him or put my hands in his hair to give him scritches, he’d act like I was being stupid and intolerant instead of simply forgetful. 

    We don’t talk anymore. He ran out of things to talk about that weren’t god or religion and I got tired of hearing them. I kind of miss high school him though. 

  • bilbo

    “1 guy, 1 girl in a car? Not ok. 3 guys, 1 girl in a car? What could possibly go wrong…?”

    I really don’t like the implication here. Please try not to paint men as rapists by default. It’s really not very nice. Most men are not rapists, and it’s unfair to use the assumption that they are as a starting point for defining what standards of behaviour should be.

    • Bo Tait

      The implication that a woman in the company of 3 men is more likely to be in danger  than a man with 3 women?  Im not sure thats a big leap.

      And really he’s just disagreeing with how women have been painted as the real problem and men less of a threat in these guidelines.  Its more about treating people equally than implicating men.

      • Bo Tait

        Of course, if that’s actually what they;re saying. Im confused about what yichud means. Good or bad?

        • http://www.themerelyreal.wordpress.com/ Chana

          Yichud means “alone.” It’s not ok between unmarried men and women because they might be having sex, and that would be bad.

    • http://www.themerelyreal.wordpress.com/ Chana

      Interestingly enough, the rule as interpreted by religious Jews *does* assume that men are all rapists/unable to control themselves; the other men are there so that they can all keep each other in check.

  • Spherical Basterd

    “Two Girls, One Yichud”?

  • http://twitter.com/kariedgerton Kari Edgerton

    My church camp had the swimming rule and we weren’t allowed to be alone with a member of the opposite sex. Ever. 

    I might mention that it was at this camp that I started doubting my faith. I was 9.

  • flyb

    We in the US are not too far removed from this way of thinking with regards to the separation of genders in scouting. When I was a Boy Scout in the ’80s, I had the privilege of being an “exchange scout” for a week with a Dutch scouting troop and the experience was unforgettable. My initial shock was that the troop was co-ed/unisex! Oh my! Men and women scout leaders all camping out with boy and girl scouts. The only gender separation occurred in tent assignments, but all the tents were intermingled in the camp site. The adult leaders shared larger tents together. Of course I talked about this with them a great deal and asked lots of questions, but it really wasn’t a big deal for them. They thought it was extremely odd that US scouting was gender separated.

    • Carolyn

      Scouts Canada went mixed-gender about 20 years ago, though they still gave the option of boys-only groups. The Girl Guides are still single gender, though. The difference here is that Girl Guides had growing enrollment, and the Boy Scouts had dropping enrollment.

      The argument for Girl Guides as a single gender entity is that every task was performed by a girl or woman. There was, and still is, concern that in mixed gender groups, you get the boys taking the heavy lifting tasks, or taking the stern paddle position in the canoes, and the girls doing more of the cooking. I’ve seen it a lot in mixed gender groups learning this kind of wilderness skills. It’s never, at least here, been about modesty, and indeed, some camping or volunteer events draw both Scouts and Guides here.

    • http://www.emilvikstrom.se/ Emil Vikström

      I live in Sweden and have been a scouting since cub scout age (I’m 23 now). We have had mixed gender groups since the 60′s and 70′s (I believe all our scout groups are totally mixed since decades). Camps for teens almost always give out free condoms and at some large camps there have been some sex jokes on the big arena talking about what scouts do in their tents.

      It’s also very uncommon to have separate tents for girls and boys, except in small tents where the scouts themselves usually form groups with their patrol or friends from other patrols, in which case there may be some non-mixed tents. I think the most common tent separation in large troops, if there is a planned one at all, is between those who like to make a lot of noise and those who want to sleep at night :-)

      The concern about gender inequality is mostly solved by itself when assigning tasks to the patrols as units. A  patrol responsible for cooking a meal must do it together. A patrol responsible for finding and preparing firewood must work together. Just rotate the responsibilities between the patrols.

      I think most scouts would be surprised to know that since 2007 the Swedish scout law does not even include God anymore. The first paragraph in the law was changed from “A scout honors God and his word” into “A scout searches for his beliefs and respects others’”. I hope that other scout associations will follow. It is entirely possible to have a secular scout movement without stepping away from the ideas of Baden-Powell. He mostly talked about doing good and be useful for society, and as everybody here surely knows: It is possible to be good without a god.

  • Aaron Harmon

    Wait, so if a 10 year old boy is drowning, and a woman finds him, she must go find a man to save him?

    • http://www.facebook.com/avichapman Avi Chapman

      My understanding from my youthful indoctrination is that all but three of the rules have a goes-without-saying exemption in the case of life and limb. Unfortunately, one of those three is sexual misconduct. I doubt the modesty laws would qualify, as they were invented as a ‘fence’ to prevent said sexual misconduct. But you never know. A group of Hasidim once walked around my wife and I while she was doubled over having a contraction (they made a big show of not coming any closer than they absolutely had to). Only one of them had the decency to look embarrassed about their behaviour.

    • Invisibleteacup

      No, Judaism places the highest value on saving a life, no matter what mitzvot must be broken in order to do so. There are only three laws considered “yehareg ve’al ya’avor” (be killed rather than transgress): murder, idolatry, and sexual immorality (which would be incest, adultery, etc., not immodesty)

  • strumpet

    I like that you call out inequality and sexism in fundamentalist  culture but not the deepening rift in your own skeptic/atheist communities caused by the same problems. It’s your house, your rules, and I have no right to dictate content. I’m just disappointed- you’re a prominent member and the silence is deafening.

    • http://www.facebook.com/chrisalgoo Chris Algoo

      1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/False_equivalence

      2. Hemant does address gender issues in this community.

      3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/False_equivalence 

      • strumpet

         On the contrary, I’m a subscriber. The only reference made to the recent controversy on this blog was posting video on the WIS conference, sans comment. He certainly has addressed the issue in the past, but isn’t in the present. In no way have I claimed equivalence, only stated disappointment.

    • Bo Tait

      You must not come by often. Hemant talks about gender issues in atheist communities quite often. I think the most recent being Naked Picture…..gate(?):P

  • Kodie

    When I was 19, I was a day camp counselor at a camp owned by Jews, and most of the attendees were also Jews. It wasn’t orthodox, we didn’t have all these rules. But as I’ve come to understand, camp is very popular with Jews. I thought I would be placed with the youngest kids, only having baby-sitting experience, but I was placed with the oldest of the day camp visitors. They were 11-13. They did not have a lot of opportunity, if any, to be alone in any co-ed peer situations. My co-counselors were another woman who was a primary school teacher, and a man, whose girlfriend was assigned to another age group. I was intimidated by this age group. They were really nice, except when they were total bastards. We did have a situation with some of the boys’ attitudes toward the girls (total cootie-ville) for about 2 weeks, it was kind of rough, one 12-year-old girl who had her period every Tuesday so she could excuse herself from “lake day”, and one 11-year-old boy who could hold any object in his hand – a book, a stick, a shoe – and pretend it was a gun and shoot everyone with it (he was one of our only non-Jews). But these kids were day campers. I didn’t deal with the sleep-overs. From what I understand, after the sun goes down and the activity schedule is cleared, these kids have enough free time to discover their sexuality, even if they’re 12 or 13.

    As fucked up and ignorant as these rules may be, young teens and pre-teens fondling each other is a more probable occurrence than a counselor committing pedophilia.

  • Jenny

    Haha, they clearly haven’t heard me singing. That’d keep them from being aroused all right. X)

  • T-Rex

    What if one of the counselors was named Sandusky?

  • http://gloomcookie613.tumblr.com GloomCookie613

    Random related story:
    Suddenly the way I was treated by the Jewish summer camp councilors when I worked at an amusement park makes sense.  Part of my job was to test harnesses, seat belts, and help shorter kids into the seats and I remember a few times getting yelled at by councilors when I’d go to help a kid or test their safety gear.

    As I said to most of them, “Safety comes first.  I either check this or you all can leave.”

    I also refused to chase their yarmulkes when they didn’t secure them.  I even warned them up front that nobody from our staff would be risking their lives for a scrap of fabric, if it means so much to them, they need to secure them beyond 2 bobbie pins.  The ride went almost 60mph with loops, it was pure hat/head covering carnage.  A few of us actually kept a running tally of the yarmulkes lost because the camp councilors would, without fail, come barging over and demanding we go chase it.  My memory may be fuzzy, but I think my last summer there we hit 50-some in one season.  It was a record.

    Not sure what the string thingies are (Google tells me they’re called eruv?), but they always used to get stuck in anything resembling machinery or gears.  Used to drive our mechanics ’round the bend.  Not to mention piss off the other park guests because rides had to be shut completely down to remove the obstructions.

    • Anonymous

      Tzitzis

      • http://gloomcookie613.tumblr.com GloomCookie613

         Thanks.  My google-fu was weak and lazy. :)

    • http://www.facebook.com/avichapman Avi Chapman

      If you mean the string thingies sticking out of their shirts, they’re called ‘tzit-tzit’.

      • http://gloomcookie613.tumblr.com GloomCookie613

         Thank you.  My google-ing was lazy, I’ll admit.  :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/avichapman Avi Chapman

    My wedding was ruined by this stuff. My (now ex) wife was converting to Judaism in the lead-up to the wedding. Her rabbi insisted as a condition of her conversion that he be given veto power over all aspects of our wedding. He proceeded to rearrange the whole thing. He wanted us to have completely separate receptions for the men and woman like he’d had at his wedding.

    Eventually, we were able to contact the members of the Bet Din that were handling her conversion and they leaned on him to make some ‘concessions’. We had a wedding dance, but only after the grace after meals so that the rabbis present could leave (they begged us to leave too). But my sister was not allowed to sing, boys and girls were seated on opposite sides of the tables (with married couples at the meeting points between the two sides) and my parents-in-law were not allowed under the huppah. (To be fair, he must have had an attack of conscience, as he pulled them in to stand right next to the huppah at the last second.)

  • kaydenpat

    If necessary a girl can help a boy in distress until he reaches the age of 9!!!!!!!!

    Wow. So no female nurses/doctors for boys over the age of 9?  Interesting.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ben-Porter/100001075278352 Ben Porter

    uhhh the stupid hurt my brain


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