Writing in Tablet Magazine, Sara Toth Stub explains why new trend in Israeli tourism – women from many backgrounds inviting tour groups into their homes – is growing in popularity. Stub shows us what happens when a group of college kids visit a Haredi home in Jerusalem’s ultra-Orthodox Bukharim quarter.
…this 58-year-old grandmother was eager to meet these students, to show them her world. She was hosting the students as part of a new community initiative to introduce tourists and other visitors to the Haredi way of life.
“Sit down, sit down, feel at home,” Brandwein said, smiling. “Feel like you are at the home of a Yiddishe Mama.” She passed out photo albums from family weddings, and the students—all female; their male classmates have been sent to a different home nearby—paged through them. Brandwein told a brief version of her life story, about growing up nearby in the Mea Shearim neighborhood, marrying at age 18, and now getting ready to marry off her youngest daughter later this year…
“I was really surprised by how open they were,” said Enya Koblenz, a 25-year-old who grew up on a kibbutz who visited Brandwein’s home. “I got lots of anti-Haredi messages growing up. You are always taught about how they don’t work at all, and that, for a kibbutznik, is like the worst thing.” But Brandwein’s husband does work, as a Torah teacher, and Brandwein talked about being constantly busy to help make ends meet for her family, taking jobs tailoring clothes and teaching others how to sew.