A Hasidic Girl Band Gears Up for Its Debut at a Storied Rock Venue
From the Archive: With a women’s-only gig at Arlene’s Grocery in New York this week, Bulletproof Stockings hits the bigger time
In 2011, adventure-seeking rock drummer-turned-Hasidic mother of four Dalia Shusterman became a widow. At about the same time, Perl Wolfe, born and raised in the Lubavitch sect of Hasidism, married and divorced, was living with her parents and beginning to write her own music. A few months later, the two women would meet in Crown Heights, Brooklyn and soon after that begin recording their first EP, titled “Down to the Top.”
Their band name, Bulletproof Stockings—a somewhat derogatory term used to refer to the opaque stockings worn by some Orthodox women—hints at their insider status as Hasidic women and also at a kind of freedom or irreverence they bring to their enterprise.
Bulletproof Stockings, which also includes Elisheva Maistser on cello and Dana Pestun on violin, performs for women only, in keeping with kol isha, the prohibition on men hearing women sing that is adhered to among Orthodox Jews. They also dress modestly, as is customary in the Lubavitch community to which they belong. But when playing music, they are not contained. They can be loud and raucous and sooner find common ground with the likes of Jane’s Addiction or the Throwing Muses than with Keren Ann. For that, they’ve attracted attention well beyond their Crown Heights enclave. This week, they take their show to Arlene’s Grocery—a musical mainstay of Manhattan’s Lower East Side—for the venue’s first-ever women’s-only show (see Rishe Groner’s review of the concert here).
Last summer, they talked with Vox Tablet’s Sara Ivry about their musical backgrounds, about ways their faith gets expressed in their music, and about why it’s so important for women to have opportunities to rock out without any guys around. [Running time: 24:46.]
- Vox TabletSo Long, FarewellAfter 11 years and 500 episodes, Vox Tablet signs off for good
- Vox TabletTanya’s StoryHow a young woman learned the painful lesson that there are times when trying to do what’s ‘right’ can go very, very wrong
- Vox TabletA New Kind of Prayer BookThe Conservative movement’s latest siddur goes way beyond traditional liturgy
- Vox TabletHey, Mister DJ: Put a (Diaspora-Blending, Genre-Bending) Record OnBooty-shaking new music from A-Wa, Sandaraa, and Schizophonia
- Vox TabletWhat’s Free Will Got To Do With It?Especially in election season, we love talking about the moral fiber (or lack thereof) of our candidates. But when it comes to ethics, no man—or woman—is an island.
- Vox TabletBuilders of a New JerusalemIn a new book, Adina Hoffman brings to life three architects who transformed the city in the days of the British Mandate
- Vox TabletBathe in the WatersA radio documentary asks: Is there a way for women to dunk ritually that doesn’t conflict with their feminism?
- Vox TabletBeyond DrakeA handful of personalities come to mind when we think of African-American Jews. Let’s change that.
- Vox TabletThe Saddlemaker, the Schindler, and the Miller of WlodowaGolems, messiahs, tradesmen, Nazis, and townspeople converge in the story collection ‘In the Land of Armadillos’
- Vox TabletA Year of FirstsAn audio portrait of Luzer Twersky, just after he quit his life as a Hasid, and long before he played one in films
- Vox TabletFor the Love of Suzie Louise: A Christmas StoryIn middle-century Skokie, a young Jewish boy searches for a stolen Jesus to comfort his bereft Christian girlfriend
- Vox TabletThe Most Haunted Leading ManIn ‘Son of Saul,’ actor Géza Röhrig defies our every expectation of a Holocaust movie hero
- Vox TabletGirlhood, InterruptedCynthia Kaplan Shamash fled Iraq 40-odd years ago, when she was just a kid. Her flight foreshadowed that of young refugees fleeing Syria now. Where did she land? Where will they?
- Vox TabletLet ‘Freedom’ Ring: A Flutist Gives Life to Musical Celebrations of LiberationsMimi Stillman’s new album features works inspired by upheaval in Europe and the Middle East
- Vox TabletPuzzle MasterFor years, scholars dismissed the Arabic on text fragments from Cairo’s genizah as unimportant scribbling. Then along came Marina Rustow, bona fide ‘genius.’
- Vox TabletMy Grandfather, the Secret PolicemanRita Gabis knew only that her mother’s Catholic family came from Lithuania after the Holocaust. Then she started asking hard questions.
- Vox TabletBeyond the PulpitWhat does a rabbi do in late August when he no longer needs to prep for High Holidays?
- Vox TabletAndré Aciman, Sarah Wildman, and Others Build a Summer Reading ListLooking for a good book to sink into at the beach in these waning dog days? Friends share what they’ve loved lately.