Vox Tablet

A Hasidic Alt-Rock Girl Band Gets Its Groove On—In Crown Heights

Sorry, guys. Bulletproof Stockings—drummer Dalia Shusterman and singer-songwriter Perl Wolfe—plays for women only.

August 5, 2013
Perl Wolfe (left) and Dalia Shusterman of Bulletproof Stockings(Sefira Lightstone)
Perl Wolfe (left) and Dalia Shusterman of Bulletproof Stockings(Sefira Lightstone)

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 cellist Elisheva Maistser, 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.

Here they talk 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.]

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Vox Tablet is Tablet Magazine’s weekly podcast, hosted by Sara Ivry and produced by Julie Subrin. You can listen to individual episodes here or subscribe on iTunes.

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