An Orthodox View Of Love

Jewish Standard: Both Ms. Brown’s books are written in a child’s voice — a smart, self-aware, limit-testing, often obnoxious little girl, self-centered as happy children often are, secure in her parents’ love and her place in the world. “Hush,” published in 2010, conflates three stories of sexual abuse that she had heard when she was a child. “People find it politically incorrect to say that sexual abuse is endemic in the community, but the simple fact is that the more denial there is in any given society, the more freedom the pedophiles have,” she said. It is not a subject about which most people are particularly forthcoming in most places, although the silence around it in the outside world is lifting somewhat now, but in her time (she was born in 1980) and place (Brooklyn), it was shrouded in ironbound silence.

She does not think that there are more pedophiles in ultra-Orthodox culture than anywhere else, she continued, but those there are find themselves more enabled by the silence.

The title of Ms. Brown’s second book has to do with the place that romantic love has in ultra-Orthodox culture. That place, in short, is no place. God has arranged all matches, and it is up to rebbes, parents, and matchmakers to figure out who belongs with whom. Romantic love, as the Western world knows it, would be disruptive, getting in the way of God’s plan. “It is taboo,” Ms. Brown said. Stories from the outside world are dangerous because they often traffic in tales of love; Ms. Brown’s alter ego in “This Is Not a Love Story,” 8-year-old Menucha, gets her hands on a book of fairy tales, ingests them, revels in them, and is exposed to contaminating ideas through them.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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