The book I’m reading this Shabbos and the articles I enjoyed this past week.
Love in Colour, by Bolu Babalola
I’ve long followed Bolu Babalola on Twitter, since she pulled that stunt with Michael B. Jordan. She admirably trolls diehard pop culture “aficionados” with her statements and I’m so happy to see her succeed at something offline.
Kind of unfair that Americans had to wait half a year longer for the book’s release date – I mean, we are the center of the universe – but whatever.
How Orthodox Women Are Using Social Media to Liberate Each Other From Dead Marriages, by Liana Satenstein
It’s always intriguing to see how the non-Jewish world processes information that’s long been a part of our culture. Agunahs – women whose husbands refuse to give them a religious divorce (because yes, only the husband can grant the divorce), thereby sticking them in limbo – have been a part of Jewish consciousness for my entire life. Before I got married, I looked into a “Halachic Prenup”, which I thought was designed to counteract the misogyny inherent in a woman being owned as property; I thought it meant that if I showed up in Beis Din (Jewish court of law) and my husband didn’t, that the rabbis would grant me a divorce anyway. That is not what a Halachic Prenup does.
Despite the thousands upon thousands of loopholes that exist in Halachic law, freeing agunahs from their husbands is not one of them.
This article is interesting, and nice, and gives faces, but what it doesn’t do is tell the story. I want articles about the agunah crisis to tell me how marriages fall apart to the point where “chaining” a woman becomes nothing more than a tool in negotiations. I want articles about the agunah crisis to interview these men, to show that they’re not all abusers, or philanderers, or insane people – that they can simply decide to use a broken system to their advantage. Unfortunately, it can be hard to tell what’s what because the campaigns to free agunahs so often use propaganda techniques.
More importantly, I want articles about the agunah crisis to interview the rabbis who have the influence to make these changes. Find the ones who hold the power – the Rosh Yeshivas in Lakewood, the RCA, the Agudah, the Israeli Rabbinate (if they’ll return your calls) – and ask them what they’re doing to fix the system.
You know. In case anyone has another article about this on the back burner.
High Quality Audio Makes You Sound Smarter, by Thomas McKinlay
Since the beginning of the pandemic, my brother, the resident techie of the family, has been not-so-subtly encouraging the rest of us to improve our virtual presence (see his video below). After investing in a microphone, the thing to connect the microphone to the computer, and the thing to connect the thing that connects the thing to the computer, I’m pleased to see he was absolutely right. I DO sound smarter with my ASMR mic.
Happy reading and have a Good Shabbos!