Cover image for Straight talk : my dilemma as an Orthodox Jewish woman
Straight talk : my dilemma as an Orthodox Jewish woman
Berkovic, Sally.
Personal Author:
Uniform Title:
Under my hat
Publication Information:
Hoboken, NJ : KTAV Pub. House, [1999]

Physical Description:
254 pages ; 24 cm
General Note:
Originally published: Under my hat. London : Joseph's Bookstore, 1997.
Personal Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
BM726 .B49 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Writing in the first person to her daughters, Berkovic relates stories from her upbringing to reconcile the contradictions between the opportunities of modern life and the constrictions of Orthodox practice. Originally published as Under my hat by Joseph's Bookstore, London in 1997. The subtitle on the cover and spine reads "my dilemma as a modern orthodox Jewish woman." No indexing is included. Annotation copyrighted by Book News, Inc., Portland, OR

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Berkovic, the daughter of Holocaust survivors and the wife of an Orthodox rabbi, insists that she is deeply troubled because most of the Orthodox world is failing to address the fundamental conflicts and contradictions in the modern Jewish woman's life: a life influenced by unparalleled access to the secular world and the impact of feminist thought and action. The author, mother of two daughters, says that the Orthodox establishment does not provide the same opportunities for its girls to reach their intellectual and spiritual potential as its boys. She believes that it is imperative that Orthodoxy adapt to the changing realities of the modern woman's life. Berkovic, who offers readers a convivial account of her Orthodox upbringing, makes a convincing case for changes in Orthodox practices, a viewpoint that is sure to be controversial. --George Cohen

Library Journal Review

In a personal conversation with her two young daughters, Berkovic conveys her hopes and fears for their futures and relates her own attitudes toward Orthodox life in the modern world, specifically for women. The Orthodox Jewish home relies on the mother to uphold its religious and moral values as well as the physical needs of a home-based on ritual. Berkovic, a social worker and journalist, was raised in a traditional home in Australia by parents who were Holocaust survivors. She traveled and sampled different ways but never quite severed the bonds to her own world. Her marriage to an Orthodox rabbi, sensitive and caring but still bound by tradition, gives her a way of life that she finds rich and fulfilling but presents her with feminist dilemmas. Her intimate manner of addressing these issues makes for interesting and informative reading. Annotated with an excellent bibliography, this is appropriate for larger libraries, especially those with collections in women's issues and spirituality.ÄIdelle Rudman, Touro Coll. Lib., Brooklyn, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

This is a memorable account of an Orthodox Jewish woman's search for meaning and inclusion in her own tradition. By integrating a discussion of the Orthodox tradition with her personal experience in Australia, the United States, Israel, and England, Berkovic manages to convey, with honesty, frustration, and antagonism--but also with humor and wit--her deep concerns for females in Jewish Orthodoxy. Such issues as wearing a wig (shaytel), attending the ritual bath (mikveh), vocational considerations, matchmaking, intermarriage, child bearing and rearing, the definition of "family," and wife and child abuse are examined clearly, sometimes tenderly, recognizing the complexity of ultra-Orthodoxy and its response to change. Berkovic disparages lack of female participation in mourning services, the divorce process, advanced Jewish education, synagogue services, and ordination; she decries the absence of a ritual for female birth or coming of age that "has a meaningful function in the context of Torah observation." As a devoutly Orthodox Jew, she presents a well-documented argument against capitulation to the "right wing" of Orthodoxy as the "true" interpreters of the law. In addition to comprehensive footnotes, a useful glossary and bibliography are provided. Recommended for all academic levels, and for general readers, professionals, and practitioners. M. F. Nefsky; University of Lethbridge