To be honest, I didn’t expect Bulletproof Stockings to be good. What, I thought in the judgmental part of my mind, would two Chabad women from Brooklyn know about alternative rock?
It turns out, quite a bit. Dalia G. Shusterman and Perl Wolfe, the current members of the female Hasidic alt. rock band, each had her own journey that gave her exposure to music and experience in performing, according to the Times of Israel. Neither, though, had any expectation of being where they are today: In a successful, Jewish-themed band with a forthcoming CD and performances all over New York.
Shusterman, former hitchhiking teenage musician, current single mother of four, grew up Modern Orthodox but was attracted to Chabad after years of performing. After she joined the Chabad community, she had no thoughts of performing her beloved drums again; but when her husband passed away last year, her family was uprooted from L.A. and moved to Crown Heights.
There, she was introduced to the soulful-voiced, piano-playing Wolfe, a songwriter who returned to her Chabad roots after years of rebellion, and more recently, a divorce. The two met a year ago, and have since produced a four-track EP. Though their music can be accessed online and on MP3s by men, their performances are women-only, due to the commandment which forbids men from listening to the sound of a woman singing.
Unlike so much Jewish music, Bulletproof Stockings — so named for the opaque hosiery Hasidic women are expected to wear — is quite enjoyable to listen to, and full of clear talent. Their sound is compared to Florence and the Machine and Adele, among other such talented, and successful, artists.
The two wish to be an inspiration to other observant women to express themselves through music, and see the performing boundaries as a positive thing rather than restricting.
“We really want girls to pick up their instruments and start getting into it. There’s a weird misconception that it’s not Jewish to do this kind of thing,” Wolfe said to Times of Israel.