Utne Blogs > Mind and Body

Borrowing the Burka

by Staff


Tags: ultra-Orthodox, Judaism, religious dress, Jerusalem, burka,

Recently, an ultra-Orthodox woman from Israel’s Jerusalem District so perplexed the local religious authorities that they ordered her and her husband to divorce. Her offense? Insisting on wearing a burka.

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reports that a group of ultra-Orthodox women in the city of Ramat Beit Shemesh have started wearing burkas, the enveloping outer garment often associated with Islam, whenever they leave home. (A summary and excerpt of the article are available in English at The Muqata blog.) No known rabbi has advocated the practice.

One of the women is quoted in the article saying: “I don't want men to look at me. I'm happy being modest. In the past, I felt uncomfortable to walk around [sans-burka], in such a wanton fashion.”

Steve Thorngate

(Thanks, Lilith blog.)

celeste k-s
2/7/2008 9:11:29 AM

I read a comment from a Christian college student who recently spent two weeks in Iran saying she never felt less harassed as a woman than while wearing a hijab, the head scarf and long layers of dress less complete than a burka. She also said it affected her self-esteem, though, so I don't think I'll try it. But I can see some value in beauty being best recognized in private in our relationships with God and not among strangers on the street. The key is people choosing -- even in the context of community -- as these Israeli women seem to be.