May 11, 2023 5:25 PM
Bonei Olam, a Haredi organization that raises money for Jewish couples to access fertility treatments, issued two apologies this week about a cookbook it sent to donors. On Tuesday, it apologized for mailing donors cookbooks that included pictures of the author, Chanie Apfelbaum. Then, on Thursday afternoon, it backtracked and expressed regret for that email.
“It has come to our attention that there are pictures in this book that are not appropriate,” the initial message reads. “We are so sorry to trouble you, but please take the time to cover these pictures in a permanent way.”
But, after Orthodox activists criticized the email on Instagram, Bonei Olam posted an apology on Instagram to the author of the cookbook and her followers. It is “a beautiful publication that honors the role of Jewish women,” one post said. “We aim to create a safe respectful and inclusive environment and are taking action to ensure that an incident like this does not happen again.”
According to Bonei Olam’s website, people who donated $180 got to choose from a list of four gifts, one of which was Apfelbaum’s “Totally Kosher.” Apfelbaum, also known as Busy in Brooklyn on Instagram, was raised in the Chabad Hasidic community in Crown Heights.
The book contains several pictures of Apfelbaum and her children all dressed modestly, with only her face and forearms exposed.
“It is one thing if you want to decide, for whatever reason, that you are going far beyond the bounds of Jewish law and do not want images of Jewish women, holy modest Jewish women in your home,” wrote Shoshanna Keats Jaskoll cofounder/director of Chochmat Nashim, an organization that fights extremism in the Orthodox world, on Instagram.
“But to have the absolute chutzpa to call them inappropriate and to call for them to be permanently covered? That is a new low in what is already a bottomless pit in the cesspool that is fake modesty and misogyny,” Keats Jaskoll added.