New posts by two of the bloggers I frequently check in on — a young woman whose nom de blog is Material Maidel and Elana Sztokman – focus on food and Pesach.
Material Maidel, who writes that she recently moved to New York area from “out of town,” is, I would guess from her posts, in her mid-to-late 20s, and from a strictly Orthodox — perhaps Chasidic — family (the hint being that they keep the stringency of “non-Gebrokts” for Passover — thus not mixing matzah with any liquid whatsoever. I find it hard to imagine the holiday without my husband’s excellent matzah brei and matzah ball soup, so thankfully we don’t hold by the custom).
Sztokman is Israel-based, also Orthodox though perhaps more on the ‘modern’ end of the spectrum, and on her blog, is consistently thoughtful and insightful on all sorts of issues pertinent to Jewish women.
During the holiday’s intermediate days, she wrote about “Orthodox women, Passover and body image:”
This is the life of the typical religious woman at Passover. Spend an entire week in the kitchen, trying to create a non-bread area of the kitchen while feeding kids who are on vacation and still hungry and still want cereal and pasta, cooking for a series of massive dinner parties that take place over anywhere from one to three days without using any takeout and without being able to even shop for extra eggs along the way, then sitting for Seder and fulfilling the obligations to eat and eat and eat — in which, for a woman, this is the first time she has sat down in days, making eating the most relaxing activity available — and then waking up the next morning to fit into the brand new high fashion expensive but body covering while body flattering outfit, and doing the same for the daughters. Talk about pressure. But for a woman, it is all pressure around the body.”
She goes on to discuss modesty and “the male gaze” to which women are subjected, she says, whether they are covered or not. It is a provocative piece worth considering.
Material Maidel — MM to her friends and readers — is less ruminative and far more lighthearted as she chats about looking for love and other pursuits of a modern but religious young woman.
Not quite “Sex in the Shtetl,” but nearly. See her blog here. Her newest post, “Passover Pounds,” is also about Chag HaMatzot and the matzah itself.
She’s a fun read, after deep diving into Sztokman’s essay. Look back to earlier posts for some of her adventures in dating.