“If you have never seen a movie or read a book, how are you supposed to know what you do?” asks David Ribner, an Orthodox sex therapist explaining the need for his new sex manual to BBC News:
Sex is a touchy subject – not least among Israel’s highly conservative ultra-Orthodox Jews. But a therapist in Jerusalem has written a sex guide aimed specifically at this community.
There used to be a sex shop on the way to Dr David Ribner’s office in central Jerusalem.
The sign is still there – with big red letters spelling out “Sex Shop, Sex, Love” – but you can barely read it because it’s been scratched out.
The shop went out of business. Now there’s just one sex shop left in Jerusalem. No surprise for a city brimming with the pious.
Things are quite different in Ribner’s discreet office. Here, there is a row of boxes packed with lubricants, vibrators and massage oils, and an unusual collection of books on the wall – The Joy of Sex and The Guide to Getting It On sit side by side with volumes of Jewish religious texts.
I tell Ribner I’ve never seen a bookshelf quite like it. “There probably aren’t any,” he says.
Ribner was born in the US. In New York, he received both rabbinic ordination and a doctorate in social work. Then he moved to Israel, where he has been counselling devout Jewish patients for the past 30 years. He also founded a sex therapy training programme at Bar-Ilan University in Tel Aviv.
He says publication of a sex manual for Orthodox Jews was long overdue.
Ultra-Orthodox boys and girls are educated separately, and have little interaction with the opposite sex until their marriage night, when they are expected to consummate their union.
Physical touch with the opposite sex – even something like a handshake – is only permitted with one’s spouse and close family members. Access to films and the internet is often restricted…
[continues at BBC News]