An anonymous account of two Yeshiva University students' hot night in a hotel room in the campus paper includes no NSFW details, no naughty cameraphone snaps, nor even a bad word, but the the Orthodox Jewish university in New York City is nonetheless up in arms over the a pre-marital sex column. So far, the student council has cancelled the YU Beacon's funding and co-editor Toviah Moldwin has resigned. In a Friday post, Moldwin admitted the story put Yeshiva "in a negative light" and announced the Beacon has "decided to part ways from the university."
For secular types, the essay really isn't that bad. It's actually quite well-written and reminds us less of late night Cinemax than it does an all-ages Lifetime movie. And it's oh-so quotable. Anonymous teases us into the moment she met up with her secret lover:
Opening up my large purse and pulling out my things for the night, I can’t look at my reflection in the mirror on the nightstand. I'm not ready for that yet. Peeling off my Stern-girl exterior I slip on my lace and spray my newly-liberated skin with a noticeable amount of floral perfume.
She doesn't say what she was wearing, but it must've been sexy:
Adjusting the clasp on my Hadaya necklace, I finally take in my whole reflection in the bathroom mirror. My transformation from Occasionally-Cute-Modern-Orthodox-Girl into Sexually-Appealing-Secular-Woman: complete. I had managed to startle myself so much that I rush to cover myself in my peacoat.
It's probably what her beau wasn't wearing that really ticked off the university:
He says "hey" as he walks in with a bare head. After all of our secret rendezvouses, I’m still not used to seeing him without his yarmulke on, but this time it’s somewhat of a comfort.
And the climax:
As soon as my bra hits the floor, the voice is gone.
Between the fumbling, the pain, the pleasure, I convince myself that I’ve learned how to make love.
Wait, that's it? The New York Daily News describes the reaction to the essay it as "outrage" packed with "inflamed emotions." The Wall Street Journal calls it a "campus uproar," making note of the intensely traditional approach at Yeshiva which "is split into men's and women's campuses about 150 blocks apart in Manhattan." We're in no position to judge what is or isn't acceptable within the Yeshiva community, but it's clear that the backlash against the article only served to conflate the issue. Traffic to the Beacon's site has skyrocketed, and the story made its way around the blogs on Friday.
The paper is taking the journalistic high road and refusing to pull it down -- that's why they lost the $500 in student council funding. Moldwin's co-editor Simi Lampert for one, thinks the dialogue is useful, even if it is ruffling some feathers. "[Pre-marital sex] happens in our community and we as a community prefer to pretend it doesn’t happen," she wrote in a post explaining the paper's thinking on Thursday night. "That is why we posted the article -- so people would talk about it. And talk they did."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.