The unusual ad began circulating in Orthodox Jewish WhatsApp groups on Sunday followed by its debate. But does it respect the rules of modesty to show your toes, even fake ones?
Jewish Orthodox women who want to look good but also conform to their community dress code standards were appealed to by the ad.
Advertisement sells ‘high quality’ and ‘durable’ silicone toes that women can slip over their own, allowing them to wear sandals without their own feet being seen.
“Do you want to be fashionable but also ‘Sniout,’ modest?” ad calls out, using a Yiddish form of the word modest. “Do you want to look elegant but without offending Gd [sic] ?”
The ad resembles many of the actual advertisements circulating in the Haredi Orthodox market, where orders often have to be placed over the phone or in person because Internet use is frowned upon.
But this advertisement also looks like a joke, a fake Ad, in order to show how some Orthodox Jewish women try to push the limits of the standards that dictate their dress, control their accessories and keep their faces off some orthodox publications.
Speculation about whether the advertisement is true or false has occupied parts of the Orthodox world this week.
It is not unlike the wigs that cover the real hair of these ultra-Orthodox women in other words, hide the true that I cannot see through the false. And so much the better if it comes closer to reality.
“I think it’s a joke. But what’s interesting is the craze for this advertisement which refers each of these women to their own limits.”
The ad listed a phone number with an area code in the Hudson Valley region of New York to place orders, but was unsuccessful in reaching anyone.
Yet one person seems to have successfully placed an order.
In widely circulated video taken on Monday morning, a man holds back laughter during a seven-minute call with the person who answered the phone, who identifies as Chana.
The caller asks about the company’s offerings, learning that toe coverings can be customized in different skin tones for Ashkenazi and Sephardi customers. They can also be varnished according to the tones accepted in the Orthodox world.
There is also the possibility of adding “onions” to make these toes even more realistic.
“You know, it’s a bit like when a woman gets a wig and she sprinkles it with fake dandruff to make it look realer than real. said Gvuras Chana.
The conversation focuses on several contemporary controversies in Orthodox communities. Orders may take a while as the supply chain of false toes from China has been interrupted by “the fake COVID disease,” says the trade rep, alluding to the medical misinformation that has plagued the Orthodox world during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The tradition of covering your hair after marriage is firmly entrenched in Jewish law, known as halakha, and Orthodox women who push for greater female leadership generally don’t oppose it.
Toes are not subject to specific laws, but there is a general commandment to dress modestly, as well as countless examples of rabbinical edicts and community standards expanding the boundaries of what is considered modest.
But in some parts of the Orthodox world, there are disputes over the use of human hair wigs, which can cost up to $3,000 and require salon care, some claiming that an expensive, realistic wig defeats the purpose of wearing headgear for modesty.
Some Orthodox women will choose to cover their hair with a scarf or hat instead. The existence of designer wigs can also put financial pressure on women who feel pressured to do the same to blend into their community.
Prosthetic toes like the ones in the ad are used by people with foot injuries or congenital conditions and people who have had toes amputated due to diabetes complicationse ; they can be found easily with a quick Google search.
The fake toes in the ad also resemble those used by nail technicians to practice nail art.
Other replica body parts have been produced for observant Jews in the past, although for different reasons.
In 2015, an Israeli barber came out with a synthetic hair yarmulke so men could meet the requirement to cover their heads without immediately marking them out as religious Jews.
Chochmat Nashim, an organization whose name means “women’s wisdom” and aims to include women in Orthodox decision-making, said online that it did not create the ad.
The group focused this week on a new cookbook published by ArtScroll, an Orthodox publisher, in which women are represented by photographs of ingredients, not themselves. Many Orthodox publications do not show women, citing reasons of modesty, a practice which, according to Chochmat Nashim and otherserases women from their own communities.
Chochmat Nashim said Toe Sheitel’s announcement and response to it raised an important question.
“We’re so disconnected that we don’t know the difference between reality and prank? she wrote in an Instagram post.
One commenter said she would have been sure it was satire – except that she had personally heard a rabbi say that women’s toes should remain covered.
“It’s a farce,” added Chochmat Nashim later, without explaining where she got that certainty from.
” The question is how do we ensure that this will always be the case? How to Erase Female Sexualization and Witness the Distortion of Judaism.Let’s admit that we are reaching the limits.”
By midweek, parodies of what might or might not have been a joke started piling up, including advertisements for fake boobs as well as t-shirts representing breasts, designed to allow a topless in all modesty, and for plastic bras intended to allow strapless, without revealing too much of the collarbone.
The email address listed for the company selling neckline correctors gave an immediate response to a request.
“Our company not related to the toe prosthesis company,” she replied. “We just put forward the same concept of trying to be modest…while still being able to wear your favorite dress (or shirt) with a nice neckline.”
Later, another email came confirming that it was indeed a joke “This was all supposed to be a joke between a few friends,” the non-company said.