June 19, 2024
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Mirror Mirror on the Wall: Reimagining Our Identities Post-Pandemic

I was not trained to be a yoetzet during a pandemic (it was not part of the curriculum). After all, virtually no one on this planet was trained to do his or her job under these circumstances. I was trained to share my Halachic knowledge, advise women on areas of women’s physical and mental health that intersect with taharat hamishpacha, and connect women with professionals and resources in these realms.

And I was also trained to listen, which, in the past nine years since I became a yoetzet, and in particular over the past 15 months, has been the most helpful aspect of my education. As a deliberate response to hearing from numerous women and couples who feel quite alone in their experiences of often-taboo aspects of the niddah observance and general “frum-woman life,” I have strived to create more programming that focuses on honest conversation about relationships, intimacy, medical challenges and mental health.

Now, I am listening and I believe another conversation is in order. Consider the following sentiments:

“I see all these pictures on Instagram of people making parsha cakes and chocolate bombs—in the middle of a global pandemic! I feel so insufficient; I thought I was a good parent because I am keeping my kids healthy…but apparently there are more things I need to do.”

“I struggle to be nice to my kids and husband. After this is over, I need to think about how to reconfigure my life and responsibilities in a way that works better for everyone.”

“I realized that I’m really an introvert and rather not participate in every single community function. But I always felt so much pressure to be everywhere and do everything. I want to make choices going forward that are aligned with my values and preferences. But my husband feels the opposite—he loves the social piece… ”

“It’s so nice to not have to keep up with the Joneses. Unless I go on social media, I can’t see them and they can’t see me. The sheitels, the clothes, the trips… What a relief.”

“All the pictures I see on Facebook are of happy couples doing fun things together. But not being with my friends and just being with my husband for 15 months did not work well for us. Is that OK?”

“I was really able to focus on my relationship with my husband—which was both challenging and rewarding—in the absence of other social interaction. I’d love to prioritize that going forward. But there were always all these other social obligations…”

At this year’s 9th Annual Teaneck Yoetzet Initiative summer event, “Mirror Mirror on the Wall: Reimagining Our Identities Post-Pandemic,” the women in our community will have the opportunity to gather in person or via Zoom to discuss some of these sentiments, which center around the uniquely relevant post-pandemic question of choosing lives that are aligned with our individual values and personalities, while simultaneously contending with peer pressure, social media, self-image and expectations from our spouses. This event, on Tuesday July 6, at 8:00 p.m., will feature a conversation with our community member Shana Yocheved Schacter, an experienced psychotherapist who has also served the Jewish community as a rebbetzin and advisor to clergy members, and Dr. Sara Roer Bendheim, a clinical psychologist who specializes in topics related to self-image and self-confidence such as eating disorders.

To register for the July 6 yoetzet event, please visit http://www.rinat.org/yoetzet2021. Participants are invited to submit questions in advance when they register, as well as anonymously during the conversation.

I look forward to listening together with you to our experts, hearing your responses and questions and supporting one another as we together reimagine who we want to be.


Yoetzet Halacha Tova Warburg Sinensky serves the Teaneck, Atlanta and Greater Philadelphia communities. She is also a kallah teacher and consultant for high schools on intimacy education. To follow the Teaneck Yoetzet Initiative on Facebook visit: https://www.facebook.com/TeaneckYoetzet/. To follow Tova on Instagram: @yoetzettriathletetova

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