Feathered handcuffs, vibrators in all forms and sizes, lubricant, and a blue happy hippo cockring. These are items found in most sex shops, online or offline. But the products offered by better2gether are ‘kosher’, specifically aimed at Orthodox Jews and they have one function: offering a helping hand in the devout’s bedroom.
But what exactly makes them ‘kosher’? “Firstly, there are no nude pictures or vulgar language on any of the packaging,” rabbi Natan Alexander, CEO of better2gether, explains. “And secondly, nothing promotes a male spilling his seed with someone who isn’t his wife.”
While masturbation and female nakedness are basically part of Western daily life, they are forbidden by Jewish law.
So, instead of sporting the traditional gaudy images, like a woman pleasuring herself with a vibrator, these packages are plain. And the items aren’t meant to help you fly solo.
But there is more to it than this.
“In my mind and central to Jewish belief, and the majority of the world’s, it’s mostly about peace in the home,” says Alexander. “I saw that many religious communities, but mainly the Orthodox Jewish community struggles with sexuality: from the education of their children, all the way up to how couples talk to each other. And I saw that no one was dealing with this.”
Which is not that odd, considering that Orthodox Judaism has a lot of rules when it comes to sex, and the topic is still quite taboo.
Sex is not considered shameful or sinful – it is actually an essential part of the belief – but it is only permitted within marriage. Some extreme Orthodox Jews are not even allowed to touch the opposite sex before getting married. And even when married, there are still rules. Like the law of niddah, which forbids touching your wife when she is menstruating. On top of that little time is spend on sexual education before marrying.
Alexander, who has been married thirteen years himself, hopes that through the website he can open up the dialogue about sex within his community. And not just only with ‘kosher’ sex toys. The website has a lot more to offer, such as online counseling. Couples can contact sex therapists by email, ask for advice on a forum, or sift through dozen of articles ranging from The Power of Compliments to More Sex, Less Stress.
Yet not everyone is that positive.
“I am ashamed of Israel for this” reads one of the comments below an article.
“But,” Alexander says, “the vast majority of responses have been positive. And in response to that comment there were fifteen to twenty others asking ‘how can you say this? Only out of Israel can come such an open minded Rabbi.”
He isn’t the first open minded Rabbi – in 1998 Rabbi Shmuley Boteach published a book on Kosher sex – and he certainly hopes he’s not the last. “If there is another Rabbi that wants to help, they can join the team. I am praying for that!”
By Celine Cornelis