Jew here on the blog, and I thought of my old classmate (that is,
classmate from awhile ago – she’s not old! She’s exactly my age :). Daphne Soclof, who lives right here near me in Cleveland. Daphne was
very gracious about being interviewed, and we met in person for the
you asked if you could interview me in the name of Modern Orthodoxy.
But I feel like I’m a Torah-observant Jew, and that there needs to be
synthesis between the modern world and Torah law. That doesn’t
categorize me as “modern” but as rather, Torah u’mada (Torah synthesized
with science). The balance between the two puts me in the center:
centrist. There are various Hebrew titles, such as “torah u’mada” or
“dati-tziyoni” (Orthodox-Zionist) or “dati-leumi”
(religious/nationalist) that carry different political affiliations as
far as being a Zionist.
Ootob: What is your name?
Ootob: How old are you?
husband is a lawyer by trade but owns a real estate company. I have my
master’s in educational psychology and work at a charter school,
Both of my parents are Holocaust survivors. In order to keep me
sheltered and connected to my heritage, they put me in a Jewish Day
School for my entire education nursery through 12th grade.
They also supported my choice to Study in Israel for a year and continue
on to Yeshiva University’s Stern College for women.
became friends as young children through Bnei Akiva, a dati-Tziyoni
[Orthodox-Zionist] youth organization. We started dating organically at
Camp Stone, an Orthodox-Zionist overnight camp, and we stayed
together ever since. I actually put a note in the kotel when I was 10
wishing for three things: 1, that my grandparents would live forever; 2,
that Mashiach (the Messiah) would come; and 3, that I’d marry Rich. So
I guess he had no choice!
Ootob: Can you describe what your wedding was like?
most fun ever. Hundreds of wild and crazy people! Religious,
spiritual. The most moving part was when we stood under the chuppah and
the entire room sang “im eshkachech yerushalayim” (a song about
remembering that Jerusalem has not yet been rebuilt; traditionally
acknowledged at our moments of greatest joy, such as a wedding). It was
a real mix of communities – because my parents’ friends and family were
not observant, – which made it beautiful.
Ootob: How do you and your husband stay connected while raising a busy large family and with all the community obligations?
all the guests we have over). We’re not the “date night” type but we
do try to sit out on the porch by ourselves and connect.
equal partners in parenting and in our home; the burden of truly
providing economically for our family unfortunately falls on my husband,
although I try to help. The food brought to the Shabbos table is
cooked by me and the Torah brought to the Shabbos table is provided by
him. He drives the kids to school every day and davens (prays) in their
school with them. The appointments, haircuts, etc, are more me.
a parent is my priority and I hope that the education I have helps in
raising my kids as well as personal fulfillment in the workplace.
don’t think there is a particular view. I think you’ll find most women
have a higher education, master’s degrees, PHD’s, etc. Some choose not
to work and some do. I don’t know of any mothers in our (Orthodox Zionist) school who don’t
at least have a bachelor’s degree. Most have gone on for more, though
many choose not to work but instead volunteer their talents in the
an absolute priority for me, as long as it can synthesize with our
Torah values. That’s why I love the day school our kids go to because
the science teacher holds the same religious beliefs that I do and
absolutely teaches science, and is able to field questions in the
religious realm as well. Nothing is omitted or sugar-coated but the
kids are taught to have secular and religious work in conjunction with
look different from the other people at work, but not for the reasons
you might think. My co-workers are either African-American or Orthodox
Jews who are more to the right, so I guess I don’t look exactly like
either group! But we all respect each others’ outfits. And almost all
of us wear head coverings. (Both groups wear a lot of wigs, and I
don’t. I generally wear a scarf or hat.)
I generally wear a hat or a scarf and my hair sticks out. I do own a
wig for special occasions, although I often feel hypocritical wearing
it. I got it because sometimes you just have to blend in. Frankly, the
real pressure came from some specific individuals in the more
right-wing Orthodox community who don’t view my style of head-covering
as legit, so when I attend those types of functions I wear a wig to fit
in. I’m very proud to cover my head as a sign of being married and
never felt uncomfortable doing that in the secular environment.
for the most part it’s not, because I think it bring beauty and
structure to my life. It was a real choice for me. I wasn’t born into
it and therefore I’m passionate about that decision.
laws and guidelines on the beauty of family purity (mikveh) and the way
women are praised and valued as the linchpin of the Jewish home. In other words, being a Jewish wife and mother.
in the shade of gray is challenging because you are constantly choosing
and thinking. It’s never black and white (outside of the 613 laws).
It’s what makes it nice, and it’s what makes it hard.
think it handles it very well, within the guidelines of halacha
(always) but with the ability for women to feel empowered and a part of
the process, sometimes with all-women’s davening on special occasions.
a woman and mother, I always feel valued and important in my role as an
Orthodox Jew, and above all else, I prefer not to have a label, because
I feel that all Jews are part of one large group, and although we all
may practice differently, fundamentally we are all part of the same
religion. Although this interview is about what makes me different, I
want to stress that the things I value about Judaism are the things that
make us all alike. We are one people.