My friend Wendy is smart, cool, and funny.  She runs her own custom cards business, learns mussar (Jewish character improvement), writes a popular food blog, and is a mom of 3.  She always has something insightful to share.  Here we go.

Be sure to check out her links at the bottom of her post.

Hi, I’m Wendy. I’m not “Orthodox.” I don’t know what you would consider me. I kind of like to defy labels. But I like to hang around with people who practice our religion in the traditional way. I learn a lot from them.
Last night I was at a party and I was talking to a perfectly nice woman. She was asking about the religious community that I am a member of. It also defies labels–of course–and I was explaining it as best as I could: the adults learn along side the children, our Rabbi and Rebbetzin are “Orthodox,” we are like a big, close family, and on and on.

And then she said it. “But aren’t the Orthodox so judgmental?”

Wah, wah.

I’ve heard this question/statement so many times before that it unfortunately didn’t come as a surprise. “Why do you say that?” I inquired.

I was met with some pretty ugly stories about how her family was treated by some people on a trip to Israel.

Okay, I admit, that’s not good.

And then I asked her some more questions. “Have you ever experienced this in the United States?”


“How many people do you know? Five hundred? A thousand? And out of those five hundred, what percent of those people would you say have exhibited judgmental behavior at one point or another? How many people would you classify as downright judgmental people?”

And immediately she knew where I was going with this. I could see the light bulb moment.

People are judgmental. Not all of them, but some. That is the nature of human beings. Some way more than others. There are judgmental Atheists, judgmental Catholics, judgmental Reform Jews and yes, judgmental Orthodox. Are the percentages of people that judgmental AND Orthodox any higher than the percent that are judgmental and Non-orthodox?
I don’t think so.
And just like some people really are judgmental, there are also people that are very sensitive and tend to feel judged no matter who they are dealing with. They may be very concerned with what others think about them so they are on the lookout for signs. They might even mistake zealotry for judgmentalness. Someone who is excited about the way they are living their life that they just can’t help but try to try to share it with others would be misperceived as judgmental.

Or maybe calling someone “judgmental” is projecting their tendencies onto others. They know that they tend to judge others for their behaviors, so they assume that everyone thinks like they do.
I don’t know why this phenomenon exists exactly, but I do know that it exists, and in a very big way. But I myself have never experienced the judgmental Orthodox phenomenon.

What’s up with that?