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Under Wraps: Pushing the Limits of Modesty

How modest is too modest? That's the question some Orthodox Jews in the Israeli town of Beit Shemesh are asking after a local woman started pushing burqa-like dress for Jewish women.

One editorial in the Israeli press says a Jewish woman's choice to cover her body from head to toe is "self-effacement to the point of self-obliteration." Here's an excerpt from a January 2nd editorial in the Jewish Chronicle, which says Orthodox Jews pushing for extreme modesty are opening a "Pandora's Box."

"Some bloggers have cited parallels to eating disorders. Both anorexics and the burka women are denying their bodies in order to make them 'disappear.' Both are reacting to unattainable cultural ideals, be they size-zero thinness or increasingly stringent standards of modesty in the Charedi world, by taking them to an obsessive extreme. And anorexia is often understood to be a desperate way for women to assert control over at least one aspect of their lives. Surely, wearing a burka or vowing silence can be construed similarly."