Fooling god

Hadarat nashim -- exclusion of women, by Lior Nordman (2012 Belle Mode)

There are several ways to comply with the requirements laid down by the clergy talking in the name of your favorite god. You may do as the god wants. You may find a god who wants what you want. You may stick with a specific god, but just choose another reference clergy class, closer to your aspirations. If you are catholic, you have also the option not do what the god expect from you, as far as you are ready to regret. Often, the stronger motivation to comply with religious odd requirements is to be finally in the position to judge someone else, who eventually is less zealant.


Judaism is an interesting and amazing religious movement. First to introduce the unexpected concept of monotheism, now exported to other — less sophisticated — religious believes, judaism is a more complex reality than often imagined. Haredi (חֲרֵדִי) is a term used to describe the most conservative form of orthodox judaism. Haredim jews represent today a controversial and often little known minority in judaism and , as a consequence, in the Israeli state.

Haredim married women are required to cover their hair in a sign of modesty and to keep away the looks of other men: a similar requirement stated by some islamic interpretations of Qur’an, but also found in other cultures, as in catholic south Italy, Greece and Spain, or the Amish communities in the US. However, as they were the first to introduce monotheism, יהוה‎ believers are leading innovators also in the field of religious prescriptions.

Cover your hair, woman!

To comply with the literal interpretation of the requirement to cover their hair, but looking forward to look more glamorous, orthodox jewish women introduced the use of wigs. These new hair are often very expensive, beautiful, and adaptable to the season. A real-hair high-quality wig is also a statement of social status and standing in society.

I wonder if the use of wigs will spread in more conservative religious groups. I imagine that persian women in Iran would look favorably to a less strict imposition of hear-cover devices. Yet, it is a way to go around the obstacle, rather than to fight it. A soft approach to female liberation? Or maybe just another way to accept gender based segregation. For sure, it is a smart way to fool your own god.

It’s interesting to mention that some liberal synagogues suggest that women, married or not, wear head-coverings similar to those worn by men (kippas):  not for modesty, but as a feminist gesture of egalitarianism!

Hadarat nashim

Pictures in this gallery were taken by fashion photographer Lior Nordman ( for the magazine Belle Monde, in response to the strict moral code imposed by Haredim to women in their community. Nordman, answering to Haredim men claiming that women must dress extremely modestly to limit their attractiveness to men, said: “I am in the presence of rather scantily clad women several days a week, and I manage to control myself.”

This photographic work is titled Public Transportation, is dedicated to hadarat nashim (exclusion of women) and  sparked a large debate in Israel and abroad.

Hadarat nashim -- exclusion of women, by Lior Nordman (2012 Belle Mode)

4 responses to “Fooling god

  1. Interesting topic! Just a small notice. These people do not necessary have any religious thoughts in their minds when they are “fooling god”. Everyone of us belongs to a certain social group, and in this example it is “haredi”. The membership in any social group imposes certain restrictions to the person’s behaviour. These restrictions can be rather strong in case of a group with religious origins. But it is not only religion (the main group idea in this case) – many different reasons may force a person to stay in the social group, such as family, traditions, prestigiousness, economical matters and so on. And because to leave that social group is not desirable, one has to conform oneself to the rules of this group. To conclude, the adherence to the rules of a “religious” social group with long history and traditions does not necessary correlate with the strength of the religious views. Everyone of us often follows the rules of some game.. 🙂

    • You have made a good point, “guest”! I am probably still reasoning in the assumption that there could be a god at all, whereas you explored a more sociological aspect of religious codes of conduct.
      Yes, I agree, it is probably part of the “game” and of its rules.

  2. I believe that if there were a god, he would have a better way of communicating his desires than through Bronze Age manuscripts full of misogyny, genocide, slavery, and misunderstandings about the universe. Surely the omniscient creator of the universe would want… and have the ability to… jeez, I don’t know… be understood?

    • A friend of mine once suggested this interpretation, and maybe you will like it: “God made humans at his image. Most humans are stupid. God is most likely stupid.” — So maybe it is true that God is really convinced that the best way to communicate with us is through Bronze Age manuscripts. On the other hand, should God send me an email, it would most likely get blocked by spam filters! 🙂

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