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Shomer Negiah Documentary: frum sex ed?

To be or not to be.shomer negiah, that is the question:


Shomer Negiah is one of the most talked about things amongst folks in the frum community prior to marriage. After marriage it switches to diaper expenses, mortgages and getting new cabinets. So it was no surprise when I was contacted by a young women from Brooklyn (Crown Heights) who was in the middle of making a documentary on the subject. I was surprised that the whole point of the documentary was to follow several people through their relationships, struggles and eventually to display the film to high school age kids to educate them in the ways of sex and keeping negia.

They also wanted people to talk about their experiences and that was partially what I did. The folks making the film had found my video-rant on You Tube about the subject and loved it. Very flattering of course and when I showed them my shomer negiah post breaking down all the categories in written form they also loved it. That post by the way remains the most read and commented on post by far with almost 200 comments.

So I went on down to Brooklyn and met these two women for some filming. They wanted to interview me and then had me rant, reminding me with pointed questions about certain areas of relationships and keeping negiah that they wished me to talk about. The one thing I thought they would censor me on- SCT- shomer cock tease- was in fact one of the things they wished I would embellish on. Fine with me, put in with people asking questions and my best material just flows, and it flowed for close to 4 hours. Here is a link to “Cant Touch This” their facebook club. The film was recent previewed at the Jewlicious Film Festival- here is a great article on the Jew Spot Blog

For many of you keeping negia may not even be a question your mind. Its in the shulchan aruch, its halacha, Im a torah keeping God fearing/loving Jew- thats great if your like that. But for the rest of us, I would say a majority of Modern Orthodox/Grew up frum- but didnt marry at 23- it is probably a different story.

I didnt even grow up in a situation where I couldnt have girlfriends or even have them sleepover, I just went to a yeshiva high school, so until I was 19 I never really got any as they say in Borough Park. The Rabbis in my school always liked to say that on our weddings nights we would regret all we had done, and they had a point, the problem is that things of the sort go unheeded in an instant gratification society.

Keeping Shomer Negia is one of those things that while everything else we do is scrutinized based on halacha, usually just goes into the back of our minds, the yetzer harah doesnt even have to sit on our shoulders, because we would touch that girl/guy regardless.

Even though I claim negiah, and try to keep it, I can tell you based on experiences of mine and most anyone I know. Most religious Jews are SUO (shomer until opportunity) or SUR (shomer until relationship) with the latter being more common amongst people like myself who refrain from handshakes, hugging and sitting next to women.

Another interesting notion I have struggled with is the pure concept of this. Does keeping negiah strengthen of weaken a relationship?

On the one hand keeping negiah allows the couple to discuss their issues rather then jump in the sack. They can keep things less complex and control any unjustified feelings which may creep up because touch accelerates things.

But then again, keeping negiah means that during the relationship certain false feelings of love may creep in for want of touching the person. So much so, that some people are driven towards marriage because they feel so strongly for the person and want to touch them. Others are driven to marriage for legal ways of having sex.

So this film addresses all of these issues and the folks making it are in the process of applying for grants and trying to finish up the film. With that said they are looking for folks to interview. They specifically asked me if I could find two very good looking people a guy and a girl who have always kept negiah to talk about their experiences on camera.

They also want to film yours truly on a real shidduch date to educate the non-religious and non-Jewish public on what happens on a date with no touching. No hug at the end, no asking to come upstairs, no nice to meet you handshakes. Just plain old hotel lobbies.

You can contact me if you are interested in being interviewed: frumsatire@gmail.com or email the creator of the facebook club

Click here to watch the you tube video of me ranting about shomer negiah

{ 36 comments… add one }
  • Frum Punk March 19, 2008, 9:37 AM

    Did they really call it “Can’t Touch This”?

    Oh, MC Hammer. Why must I hear that little jingle in my head everytime I read about this film?

  • Frum Librarian March 19, 2008, 9:38 AM

    Why do the shomer people they want to interview have to be very good looking? Just curious why that is a factor. Plenty of non-good-looking (or average looking) people are not shomer and vice versa.

  • heshman March 19, 2008, 10:21 AM

    Hey why you knockin MC Hammer, its not that bad, anyway the jingle you are thinking of is actually from the song Under Pressure by Queen. Or maybe its by whomever sang Superfreak- of disco fame.

    Well they want to know if its harder for people who are good looking since there are probably more temptations.

    I don’t get offers for action every time I go some where.

  • heimish in bp March 19, 2008, 10:23 AM

    I know i might get slammed by the public, but if you are producing a film and trying to portray to the public that its possible to go thru a relationship without going at each other like dogs, and you put up on the screeen a couple who are homely/shabby/fat/not attractive ppl, a lot of kids (maybe) will think, “yeah, big deal, who would want to do you?”

    So they take Lookers, that ppl think get hit on alot, and are still able to refrain, to show its do-able.

  • heimish in bp March 19, 2008, 10:24 AM

    wow! you stole my point! and so much more elequently!

  • heshman March 19, 2008, 10:40 AM

    Don’t worry heimishe- we could have also used this point for the whole sheitle controversy of last month. I wonder if they thought about all of those people that may not cover their hair at all- but all the sudden they see that “I can cover my hair and not look like a shtetle dweller” maybe I will try it.

    Of course they took it from the classic point of “another crisis” in the frum community.

  • Frum Librarian March 19, 2008, 10:53 AM

    I don’t think being not shomer is a looks issue. Maybe if you are talking about random hooking up at a party (even then, you probably don’t even know what the person you are hooking up with looks like in daylight!). But if you are talking about 2 teenagers or young adults in an emotional relationship deciding to be physical with each other, it is more about ATTRACTION than LOOKS. Or maybe that’s just me.

  • heshman March 19, 2008, 11:53 AM

    Well what I am thinking and they are thinking may be too different things. But I would assume that it is easier for a good looking person to be in a relationship and it is also harder since they receive so much more attention.

    I think it is more of a struggle when it is easy to get some. I even have a category called Shomer By Default- people who cannot get some action.

  • none March 19, 2008, 2:19 PM

    The reason they prefer “good looking people” to regular or bad looking people is because they want the movie to be entertaining. Its no secret that actors that are good looking draw attention to a movie and are more enjoyable to watch. Consequently, the movie will have the potential to earn more money and reach a broader audience. It’s that simple. If they are trying to appeal to today’s youth, that’s what they need to do.

  • Q March 19, 2008, 3:30 PM

    I’m curious when the term “shomer negiah” originated. I’d say it was quite recent — 25, 30 years ago? The Gemara and Poskim never use “negiah” in that sense.

    Did NCSY invent the term?

  • Headbanger March 19, 2008, 4:08 PM

    I was actually thinking the same thing. I think it’s just one of those dumb phrases invented by teenage jewish youth that wanted a license to do whatever they wanted so they turned it into a phrase most people won’t understand so they won’t feel bad about what they aren’t keeping. But it caught on so well that everyone knows what it is, except hardcore ancient frummies who probably will ask you to explain what you are talking about if you just say shomer. Shomer shabbos? Shomer torah? And I totally agree that Arayos is something that just slips right by without a question in anyones mind. People have conscience for breaking shabbos and eating burger king, but for some reason when it comes to doing something that is much worse (one of the 3 aveiros one is supposed to get killed for), everyone is lenient and says Oh I’m not that frum. If someone holds a gun to your head and says break shabbos, YOU DO IT. If someone does the same and says Cohabit with this Niddah, YOU DON’T. So how did society get so messed up on real values? Because there’s only room for blood in one head at a time.

  • heshman March 19, 2008, 4:24 PM

    Actually I think they inserted it into one of the sections of the NCSY benchers that no one ever signs, but rather glances at and subconsciously it becomes stuck in their minds.

    NCSY may have invented it, but the pride of NCSY is coed events that are easy to get some. Like when you all sleep in a shul for a yarchei kallah convention.

  • Correction March 19, 2008, 5:24 PM

    Headbanger – you’ve got something wrong here. Cohabiting with a niddah is not yehareg v’al yaavor (that you should be killed rather than do it). The averah for that would be eshet ish, or sleeping with a married woman.

  • Headbanger March 19, 2008, 7:51 PM

    I was pretty sure that any relationship that would be a chayvei krisus constitutes as an ervah, meaning you can’t have it.

  • utubefan March 19, 2008, 8:33 PM

    We’ve been learning Hilchos Yichud and Negiah for quite a while, more the boys than the girls, but still. It’s not a recent thing. The whole “Shomer” thing aint new either. NCSY just kicked it up a notch. I know. Unfortunately, I’m kind of old now.
    Classic moment in my life: I’m 17. Returned from a kick___ summer in the Catskills, had some fun–not too much. Felt guilty about a guy putting his arm around me on the last night of the summer. Hinted to my Navi teacher–nice woman, lots of funny Mussar stories. She turns to me and says, “What did you do, already? Did you kiss a boy?” And I said, aghast: NOOO! I just let him put his arm around me!” And she’s all: “Oh. That’s all? Well, try not to put yourself in that position again.” And I’m left on a street corner in Brooklyn scratching my head and saying: “Damn. I shouldn’t have stopped there. Could have had way more fun and still gotten the Navi teacher’s semi-approval.”
    Shomer Negiah Mishloach Manos theme: Garlic, salami, sour cream and onion potato chips, swiss cheese…Man, I have work to do tonight!

  • Headbanger March 19, 2008, 9:38 PM

    Yeah always good to give Treif combinations.

  • s(b.) March 19, 2008, 10:33 PM

    “So how did society get so messed up on real values? Because theres only room for blood in one head at a time.” – Headbanger

    Preach on, man. Funny stuff. As for SM that’s milch & f, you can give it all in one basket/box and not expect people to eat it all together at the same time, can’t you? Not having two heads, I’ve never given fleishig shalach manos. :ducks:

  • Headbanger March 19, 2008, 10:51 PM

    I posted as Maddox for a while btw until the board started spitting it back at me and not letting the comments go.

  • M March 19, 2008, 11:27 PM

    I don’t get the mishloach manos theme. 🙂

  • heshman March 20, 2008, 7:44 AM

    I have no idea where she was going with the shaloch manos theme either. Maybe something sexual with salami and sour cream.

  • Hi March 20, 2008, 8:39 AM

    Its a smelly breath shaloch manos-makin sure no one would want to stand near you with a 10 foot poll!!

  • s(b.) March 20, 2008, 11:50 AM

    Oh, that’s nasty. :washes eyes and brain out with Israeli hazelnut creme-filled wafer rolls, Paskesz candy, the Israeli version of Cadbury Flake and a milk chocolate RoseMarie bar:

    Completely unrelated — I once broke up a bunch of Torino bars into little pieces and mixed them into my chocolate chip cookie dough. The cookies were SO incredibly delicious!

    Rockin’ the early ‘manos at work today (total surprise, too). Psyched for tonight. Not into eating chazerei, but I’ve got that warm smile from someone thinking of me — the same someone who gave me the new Joe Jackson CD, which is pretty good, if you like Joe Jackson. ((miriam, my co-worker))

    Once I find my live discs, I’ve got to burn her something. I think I have shows from ’79 and ’81 (Thanks, rahj, wherever you are).

  • jennthejewess March 20, 2008, 1:31 PM

    Hesh! Im a very good looking person! 🙂

    ok im going to ask again y arent u online if u have a desk job??

  • heimish in bp March 20, 2008, 2:05 PM

    I know this has nothing to do with this post, but i know that you, Hesh, is a big Traders Joe fan so i thought you should know. I got this alert:

    The following kashrus advisory is from OK on March 5, 2008 and revised
    on March 14, 2008.
    Trader Joe’s Oriental Rice Crackers bearing the OK symbol contain
    seaweed and should not be used. The product is being removed from all
    Trader Joe’s stores, and labeling is being corrected.
    Additional information from the OK based on readers’ questions: This
    advisory is because the OK has found that the seaweed used in these
    products MAY have infestation problems. The OK is still looking into
    this, but for the OK feels that the consumer’s should not use it until
    a clear answer is available.

  • heshman March 20, 2008, 2:39 PM

    Good thing I would never eat something like that. It sounds gross. Thanks for the warning.

  • Dofan Akuma March 24, 2008, 8:34 PM

    so hesh, now your potential dates will not only know that the date will be thoroughly blogged about, it will also be filmed. good luck

  • heshman March 25, 2008, 7:55 AM

    First of all 90% of my dates nowadays have something to do with the blog, either they are fans or their friends are and thought of the shidduch. So most of them already know.

    Yes the filming part will define the adventurous type for sure.

    Dude don’t you live in Monsey? We have to hook up sometime- place for shabbos maybe.

  • s(b.) June 26, 2008, 12:56 AM

    The video from tonight looks great, man. 🙂

  • OPINIONATED June 26, 2008, 10:26 PM

    Some guys just go too far on dates.

  • moshe June 22, 2009, 10:37 PM

    where can we see the documentary?

  • Puzzled June 23, 2009, 1:30 PM

    I think the purpose of someone coming up with the phrase ‘shomer negia’ seems to have been making it seem like a chumra.

  • tinok shenishba October 7, 2013, 4:36 PM

    OMG. This film was made by Matisyahu’s wife. That was how they met!!!

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