Hating “Loving Leah,” But Loving The Orthodox Girls

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I never thought I’d say it — at least, in this context — but thank God that Matisyahu wears good clothes on MTV.

On The View yesterday, Susie Essman — who plays the Lubavitch mother of the eponymous character in the Hallmark Hall of Fame special Loving Leah — served as hot chanie watchingthe world’s authority to Orthodox Jews. Do you know how many people watch The View? Do you know how many of those people have never met an Orthodox Jew in their lives? And, thankfully, someone as knowledgeable and as accurate a researcher as Susie Essman is their only dose of exposure to Orthodox Jews.

BARBARA WALTERS: What did you learn in your course of researching the Hasidim?
SUSIE ESSMAN: I learned they’re not very good dressers.

Sara Ester Crispe, webmaster of TheJewishWoman.org, just told her off on JTA. And there’s definitely no shortage of articles about hot Orthodox women — including a whole Hot Chani Field Guide and a blog — to the contrary. I don’t know if the fact-checkers for The View didn’t get a chance to do their homework, or if it all just happened too quickly to edit, but there’s something wrong in View-land.

I can’t believe that not even Whoopi Goldberg called her out on it. I mean, she starred in the COLOR FREAKING PURPLE. (What she’s doing on daytime TV is a total mystery — I mean, it’s not, everyone needs a good paycheck — but I figured she’d be using her role to better the universe, not be Barbara Walters’ funny-glasses’d sidekick.)

Fortunately, it’s the easiest thing in the universe to send a comment to The View just telling them that Susie Essman was gross, inappropriate, and doesn’t know what she was talking about — but that Sara Ester Crispe is funny, charming, and a laugh riot. Put her up next to Barbara — then we’ll see who’s better-dressed.

In actuality, what offended me most about her comments wasn’t that — it was the intimation that Orthodox men are perverts who are uncontrollably turned on by a woman’s hair. (Not yours, honey.) Okay, I don’t expect anyone (least of all Susie Essman) to understand the finer points of Jewish mysticism, but check this out: ONLY MARRIED WOMEN COVER THEIR HAIR. If hair is that sexually arousing, and that’s why crazy Orthodox people cover it, then wouldn’t all women’s hair be covered? Anyway, Susie: If you’re reading this, next time, do a little research. You don’t even have to meet a real Orthodox woman — just read about it on MyJewishLearning. I promise, the entire article will take you less than 5 minutes, flat.

In any case, here’s the video. Susie’s bad side comes out right at 3:00, if you want to skip the kibitzing.

Posted on January 27, 2009
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