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Sep 9, 2013

Banning Zumba!

If you enjoy zumba, you might not want to live in Beitar.

The rabbis of Beitar Ilit have decided to ban zumba from within the confines of Beitar. They have publicized a letter saying that recently exercise groups have started in Beitar using the Zumba method.. which is in opposition to the ways of the Torah and to the holiness of Israel.. so it is prohibited to participate in such groups and any questions and doubts should be directed to the beis din.
(source: Bechadrei)

Truth is that I did not really know what zumba was until just now.. I just thought it was a highly intense exercise dance that all these women like to go (based on the local advertisements I see) to nowadays to burn some calories.. but after seeing the news item about the ban I was curious why it would be banned - what could be so bad?

Here is a [men's only] zumba video I found.. I see why they do not approve.. some of those moves can easily be described as inappropriate for Bais Yaakov girls and yeshiva bochurim (though I doubt there are too many zumba chugs for guys in Beitar).. There are plenty of other types of exercise the good girls of Beitar can still do while keeping their neshamos holy and pure.

I would surely fall on my face if I even attempted this exercise class and dance... I am not nearly coordinated enough for this..

I do not know if banning is the way to go about these things. Bans don't often work - they cause more resentment. They would probably do better teaching their residents why zumba is inappropriate (in their opinion) and should be avoided. I do "get" what their problem is, and while I am not sure I agree with the approach, I do not think they are too far off the mark on this one.....

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  1. lord, what's the big deal? It's all women and if it puts them in the mood for hubby when they get home (and shower), why the heck not....

  2. First of all women's Zumba doesn't involve suspenders or stripteases, so the above video is not completely representative.

    As a frum Zumba aficionado, I would say in its defense that frum women more than anyone need to do this exercise because due to tznius there are certain moves that we would never do in public and a proper workout requires using all the major muscle groups. Zumba works out muscles we rarely use, provides a great aerobic workout, and burns up hundreds of calories. Besides, it's fun and many people who are not motivated to exercise otherwise will work out in a Zumba class and keep coming back for regular classes.

    V'nishmartem l'nafshotechem. Is it better for a frum woman to develop diabetes and need a walker in later life after many years of being physically inactive, while keeping her "holy neshama" intact? You say there are plenty of other ways for frum women to get exercise. How about jogging or riding a bike? Try that in Beit Shemesh and you might get a rock thrown at your head. I live in a major Orthodox neighborhood and still there are a very limited number of women's only classes and most of those are Zumba.

    Finally, Anonymous above also makes a good point. It is not sexuality per se which is inappropriate. The rabbis who object to Zumba shouldn't be watching it. That's why we have women's only classes and don't put on performances.

  3. Rafi, there really is nothing to worry about here. In Chicago, we have "Frumba" and I believe there are other copycat groups of frum women who get together regularly for this very enjoyable form of exercise.

    What could possibly be wrong with a womens only group like this? Besides, what business is it of these Rabbonim anyway if a bunch of women want to get together and do this? Who asked them? They can keep their uninformed opinions to themselves.

    Another reason not to live in Beitar.

  4. If you didn't know what Zumba was before, you still don't know what Zumba is after seeing that video you posted. That is not representative of what a Zumba class looks like. If somebody was stripping while giving a Dvar Halacha, would you say that is representative of Divrei Halacha?

  5. That is not a representation of ZUMBA that is a bachelor party or entertainment for women. Exercise needs to be exciting, fun and challenging and that is what ZUMBA is. Many groups dance to Jewish music and the variety is what makes you want to keep on coming back..

  6. If you let women take Zumba, next thing they will be out taking walks for fitness, swinging their arms and everything.

  7. I bought the zumba DVD set so I don't have to ask anyone. I can zumba at home on my own time. There is a review of this set in : http://zumbaexhilaratereviews.com/ if you are interested.

  8. let me throw out something. over the past 10 +/- years there have been various female groups, initiatives, venues that have come up in the dati world. zumba, migirot, amen parties, women of the wall, yoatzot. all of them have faced opposition and some have been banned. iirc even some modern orthodox folks have had problems with the idea of yoatzot.

    maybe the issue is simply that men have trouble with women doing stuff on their own, without men there to supervise their every move. oh, but what about women for the wall? i would argue that it is the exception that proves the rule. two right wing women go to rabbanim and ask for their permission to fight against the perceived enemies of the torah. the key here is that they went to the rabbis. and even in this endeavor, the guys have taken control of the fight (last month's whistling and yelling).

  9. I am 1 of the men in that video...

    the video above was a private night and not done to promote what a zumba class is like it was done at a private party although all of the men in the video are zumba instructors you are not getting a true picture of what Zumba is.

    Therefore maybe before you make such ridiculous decisions you should go to a Zumba class and see what it's about.
    I'm also a direct descendant of the Bal Shem Tov,,,my sons and I have all been a bar mitzvah by the Rabbi of our synagogue and he also knows I teach Zumba and he has no problem with it....it would be omre of a sin to not permit this. Also the owners of the Zumba are also Jewish so you are making a shame of what we do please retract your statements and do not embarrass us anymore with your thoughts.

  10. I live nearby in efrat and I am a regular attendee of the zumba class in beitar because of the higher quality of the teachers there. Interestingly enough, the bet din was made up of only litvak Ashkenazi rabbis, while the class is nearly all chassidim and sefardim whose rabbis approve of the exercise (a number asked before they began coming). I hope this isn't the start of a battle between the factions in beitar! And of course,the class is indeed in a closed gym for women only...last night, it was actually more crowded than usual!


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