Sunday, November 30, 2008

Newsworthy tzniut?

[Haveil Havalim is here!]

This morning, while driving home from minyan, I heard a report on the radio (WKYW-Philadelphia) about a couple, both abstinence educators, who were married this weekend. The reporter observed, in tones of astonishment, that the couple had never mated, never kissed, never watched a movie lying down together, never even been alone in a house together.

Yes, apparently in a world of Mumbai terror attacks, a depressed economy, a presidency in transition, Thanksgiving celebrations, and trampled Wal-Mart workers, these topics - kiruv basar/yichud (non-marital physical contact/seclusion) - are still worthy of a headline.

I went on-line and found this report at the AP website:

CHICAGO (AP) — Won't kiss on the first date? How about waiting until marriage?

Chicagoans Melody LaLuz and Claudaniel Fabien shared their first kiss Saturday at the altar. The two teach abstinence at the city's public schools and practiced what they preached to their teenage students.

The Chicago Tribune reports that the couple had never kissed and that they had never been alone together in a house.

A friend of LaLuz says wedding guests cheered and stomped during the two-minute smooch between the 28-year-old bride and the 30-year-old groom.

LaLuz and Fabien say they have no worries about how they will spend their honeymoon in the Bahamas.

Technically, of course, this is not tzniut; Tzniut is privacy. A two-minute public smooch, not to mention the explicit declarations about their evening and honeymoon plans that made it into other reports of the happy occasion, do not qualify as private. [And don't get me started on the crude adages that made it into the radio report - "Try before you buy" on one side, and "You can't drive the car off the lot until you pay for it" on the other.]

Nonetheless, this happy couple did buck the cultural trend and observe some elements of the practices mandated by Judaism. For that I can salute them.

As to the reporter, well, perhaps he could use some time out of mainstream American and European culture to observe the way other societies do things.


  1. do you salute them because you think what they did can be an example to jews

    or because there's inherent value in non-jews acting in this manner?

  2. Jeremy-
    Thanks for this interesting question. I'd say the latter.

    I received a "Save the Date" card for a conference run by Project Child, a program of a local organization called Valley Youth House. The title is: "The Sexually Toxic Society: Impact and Strategies for Preventing Child Sexual Exploitation and Violence."

    To me, when sex is viewed as just another means of personal physical gratification, we create a sexually toxic society.