The Making of Jewrotica, Part 1 – A Note from Jewrotica Editor Ayo Oppenheimer

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From The Desk Of New

Rated PGFriends,

I’m excited to let you in on the making of Jewrotica, a project that’s been percolating since high school. This will be the first installment in a two-part series, so stay tuned for Part 2, coming next week!

As a teenager, I wasn’t a huge fan of television. Occasionally, I would flip on Beverly Hills 90210 (cringe) or Seventh Heaven (double cringe) or Popular (oy…) and promptly turn the TV back off.  True, the plotlines and dialogue were laughable, but they were also alienating: I felt little connection to the culture and realities portrayed on those shows. Watching teen girls ponder losing their virginity on prom night was entertaining, but it was also totally foreign to me. I was Orthodox. Our school didn’t have a prom, and just about everyone I knew lost their virginity on their wedding night. This was an era before Srugim, and I sorely felt the lack of media that was even remotely relatable.

Though my Modern Orthodox high school was wildly permissive with me, even allowing me to (sort of) join the boys’ wrestling team, I hesitated to push boundaries that I instinctively knew were taboo. During my senior year, I wrote a poem about an imaginary romantic encounter for the literary magazine I edited, but shredded it out of embarrassment. Its racy PG rating would never have passed our faculty censors, and I was too shy to even share it with my co-editors. Acknowledging thoughts about sex and sexuality felt awkward and embarrassing; more than that, it felt wrong.

After high school, I spent a glorious year of religious study at a single-sex midrasha in Israel, directly followed by freshman year at a secular college. Two words: culture shock.

Our first orientation event was condom bingo, which I did not attend; unmarried Orthodox Jews have no need for prophylactics. Worse, unlike some other forms of birth control, condoms are not halachically permissible, as they “waste seed.” Even if I were married, the condoms wouldn’t have made it to my bedside drawer.

Fast-forward to the end of freshman year:  I met a wonderful guy at 19, married at 21, and realized that my lack of practical sex ed had left me woefully unprepared for married life, with a hella long list of taboos to get over.

 Continue reading…

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Founder and editor of Jewrotica, Ayo spent the past two years full-time RVing North America with her Jewish educational film program. Ayo alternates between intensely pursuing fun new experiences and equally intensely trying to do good by people. She would love to hear from you.
  • Yes. Transforming silence into meaningful conversation is paramount. It’s also easier said than done. Sh’koyach on your courage in both the undertaking of the journey and the willingness to openly share.

    • Thanks for the encouragement, Daniel. I agree that transforming silence into meaningful conversation will be a challenge, but I hope it is one that you will take on with me.

      May I ask what your Jewish background is? I am always curious about our readers. Perhaps with a gentle nudge, you’ll become a Jewrotica writer yourself! 🙂

  • Banana

    It’s so important to start a conversation going with jews of all backgrounds. When I was in HS, they brought in a rebbetzin (who must have been 50 or 60 years old) to talk to 17 & 18 yr old girls about niddah/family purity/mikvah. She was completely un-relatable. I see this project as a great place for discussion on sexuality and tackling issues in a real manner rather than by trying to get away from the subject by giving obscure answers concentrating on abstinence.

    • Hi Banana!

      I’m glad that you identify with this project so strongly. Perhaps you’ll consider writing for us?

      I went to a similar high school and we were taken on the requisite mikvah trip during senior year, though I missed even that tiny bit of “sexual education” as I was participating in a debate tournament that day.

      Perhaps that was what led me to think of the mikvah as religiously-sanctioned skinny dipping for all those years… I dreamt up a whole lavish party as I missed the trip to see the real thing. 🙂

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