Lesbian Who Left Ultra-Orthodox Hasidic Judaism Reveals Religion’s Strict Rules For Intimacy

An Orthodox Jewish author detailed her journey of being a closeted lesbian woman who married an emotionally unavailable husband and then ended her loveless marriage.

In her debut memoir Kissing Girls on Shabbat, the therapist, writer, and speaker revealed the strict rules of intimacy she was expected to follow when she was a young Hasidic bride.

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Sara Glass, 39, grew up as “Malka” and was raised to be an ultra-religious Jewish woman from the insular Borough Park neighborhood in Brooklyn.

Sara Glass was raised as “Malka” in an ultra-religious Jewish family and never watched television or listened to popular American music

Image credits: drsaraglass

Image credits: drsaraglass

Her entire life was planned around the ultra-religious Jewish community’s expectations, focusing on faith, family, and duty.

Watching television or listening to popular music were in no way a part of her routine. But by the age of 19, she found herself falling in love with another young woman named Dassa, who was also raised in a conservative and protective home like her own.

“We did not know what to think about the way we craved one another, about the way I kept asking her to sneak into my bedroom at night, where we threw our clothes to the side of my bed and fused together, skin on skin,” she wrote in an article published by the Daily Mail. “After several months of feeling completely out of control, we both figured we needed a bit more information.”

For more clarity on their situation, Dassa phoned their rabbi and asked him if two women were allowed to physically touch each other in an intimate way.

Despite her religious devotion, the then-teenager fell in love with another equally devout woman and kept the relationship hidden

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“The rabbi said that for men it would have been a very bad sin, but for women, it was merely disgusting. Still, he noted, that should we penetrate each other with an object, ‘like a cucumber or something,’ we would cross the line to actual sin,” wrote the New York-based therapist.

“We had received a nisayon, the rabbi said – a test from God. He offered Dassa a blessing for the strength to withstand it,” she added.

Sara recalled how her “naive” 19-year-old self wanted to pass the “test from God,” and in order to do that, she decided to meet Yossi, the God-fearing man that her family decided was a suitable match for her.

By the age of 19, she married a devout Hasidic man and tried to settle into the life of a devoted wife and mother

Image credits: Google Books

Image credits: Dr. Sara Glass

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At the time, the memoirist firmly believed that her ultimate purpose in life was to be a devoted wife and mother. So, she went on a few dates with Yossi, as orchestrated by her matchmaker.

They discussed raising pious children on the very first date and were engaged within three weeks.

“My second round of sex education began,” she wrote in her article. “I began to attend ‘bride classes’ with a woman who taught me about the Jewish laws related to marital intimacy. I was to avoid touching my husband for two weeks out of every month, during my period and the seven days afterward.”

“I was to swipe a white cloth inside of my vagina for each of those seven days, and then hold it to the light to make sure it was clean and blood-free,” she continued. “Then, I was to dunk in a ritual pool called a mikvah, while a religious woman would watch to ensure that my entire naked body was submerged in the water, after which she could pronounce me ‘pure’ and send me home to my husband. That all seemed fine to me. I was ready to do what God wanted, to perform the holy act of intimacy.”

The young Jewish woman was taught that she had to follow strict rules of intimacy and perform the act in pitch darkness. She was instructed to engage in “something called the ‘missionary position.’”

The rules also forbade her husband from laying eyes on her private parts or putting his mouth anywhere near them.

Author of Kissing Girls on Shabbat, the New York-based therapist spoke about the rules of sexual intimacy she was meant to follow strictly with her husband

Image credits: Dr. Sara Glass

Image credits: Dr. Sara Glass

After breaking off her affair with Dassa and accepting the role of a young bride, the author tied the knot with Yossi and tried to fulfill her duties as a wife.

She became a mother to two children—Avigdor and Shira (who now go by Victor and Jordan)—and all the while, she suppressed her feelings of being a closeted lesbian.

One of the saving graces during her marriage was being able to attend classes at the Rutgers University School of Social Work. She had to get special rabbinic permission to pursue her degree, and there, she began mingling with female students wearing short shorts and mini tops.

When professors brought films about gay rights to class or when peers spoke about sexual intimacy as something that can be enjoyed, her repressed attraction toward women would undergo moments of turmoil.

“My professors seemed to believe that the holy act of intimacy was something a lot more profane, something that could happen at nightclubs and among unmarried people, and, most shocking of all, they believed it could be pleasurable,” she wrote for the Daily Mail. “They mulled over the mistreatment of gay men in our society and advocated for equal, free love. I thought they were heathens.”

“It was ten years and many painful experiences later when I decided that being holy was no longer working, and if that meant that I, too, was a heathen, then so be it. I was done sacrificing my body for God, done serving as a vessel for his will,” she continued.

Throughout her marriage, Sara grappled with her sexual identity, trying to fulfill her roles as a wife and mother while secretly acknowledging her closeted self

Image credits: Dr. Sara Glass

Image credits: drsaraglass

One Google search later, the mother-of-two found herself at the Stonewall Inn, the “gayest spot” she could find in the city outside her community. There, she sipped on a drink while surrounded by “women with short barber haircuts, women in baggy cargo pants and bare belly buttons, women who smirked back at me, welcomed me, dared me.”

“’Wanna dance?’ a caramel-skinned woman leaned close to my ear,” she wrote. “I let her pull me up as if it were a normal Saturday night for me, as if her hand around my waist was the most natural thing in the world. I felt her hips against mine, and her gentle movements made my legs seem almost graceful as they stepped with hers.”

Surrounded by rainbow flags and the voice of Lady Gaga filling the air, she felt “something like heaven” and eventually decided to set herself free.

“Once I knew, truly knew that I was gay, I set myself free. I moved myself and my children out of the enclave of my Jewish community in Brooklyn’s Borough Park and out to Manhattan, where we have lived for the past seven years,” she wrote.

After years of living a conflicted life, the therapist, writer, and speaker embraced her sexuality and is living an authentic life

Image credits: drsaraglass

“Now, I get to kiss women out in the city streets and to hang rainbow flags on my fridge,” she added.

Finally, the 39-year-old mother of two is living life on her own terms, and she is also dedicating her time to supporting others on their own journey of discovering themselves and their sexuality.

“The most important sex education we will ever receive is from our own bodies,” she concluded her article with her most hard-won piece of wisdom. “Deep down, we already know how we feel within our relationships, how we react to various scents and sounds and requests. It is up to us to tune in, to listen to what our bodies are saying, and to believe ourselves.”

A reader of the memoir Kissing Girls on Shabbat called the book a “powerful record of a sacred journey of self-discovery, honesty and integrity”

The post Lesbian Who Left Ultra-Orthodox Hasidic Judaism Reveals Religion’s Strict Rules For Intimacy first appeared on Bored Panda.
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