F.-based Jewish Community Federation, just 3 percent of the 230,000 Jews in the federation’s five-county region identify as Orthodox.
I lost so much in the name of what was accepted and what wasn’t. My husband, who had been Orthodox from the time he was 9, expressed his own doubts. He wanted to be able to choose, as I had chosen, as his parents had chosen. I realized that I didn’t believe pants were immodest or that covering my hair with a wig or a scarf was necessary.I didn’t have to cover my legs with stockings, but everyone around me did. Marrying so quickly could have gone wrong, but thank God, for us it worked. When I became pregnant with my second son I started to wear pants. Ripples of concern spread through our small community and I began receiving calls about my immodest behavior.But, perhaps in part because of that, the kids and teenagers who grow up frum, or religiously observant, in the famously liberal Bay Area experience a host of challenges and misconceptions — and, many were quick to point out, plenty of joy as well.San Francisco’s Jewish community was established in the mid-19th century, with Reform German Jews from Bavaria forming Congregation Emanu-El, and Jews from Prussia, England, France and the eastern United States forming Congregation Sherith Israel.We’ve moved out of our family’s community and into our own.
I no longer cover my hair, wear skirts, or cover my elbows.At first I felt like I was putting on someone else’s clothes every morning. And when I converted, I cut myself off from old friends and many family members. All of this done as the result of well-meaning advice; I didn’t .I didn’t have a problem with wearing pants but was told that it wasn’t and the life I wanted, I rid my closet and my immodest clothing. Without realizing it, I began losing myself, until one morning I woke up and realized that there was nothing left of my old life.I made the commitment to live my life as an observant Jew.I committed to marrying a Jew and raising my future children up in the Jewish faith.Orthodox Jews have been in short supply ever since, along with the usual accoutrements of the observant lifestyle, such as kosher delis and restaurants.