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The Secret, High-Risk World of Ultra-Orthodox Jewish Porn

In the frum community, porn and masturbation are banned and disdained. Still, a small group of amateur pornographers are risking it all to turn their neighbors on

A woman in a striped shirt bends over, just for a second. It’s unclear what she’s doing at first — you never see her face, just her back. Her hair is thick and brown, and she’s wearing a knee-length black skirt, which she begins to slowly lift, revealing a pair of darkly colored underwear, obscured and amorphous under beige tights. There’s a bit of a shuffle as the camera pans down a bit to get the best angle, and the woman reaches her hand to her waistband and clinically removes the tights.

Then the video ends. The woman’s skirt falls back into place again before you can see anything, a wholesome and tidy ending to what could have been much more. 

The scenario sounds tame, like a video you might produce by accidentally opening your phone’s camera while changing your clothes, but it’s actually anything but. It’s one of the many videos and photos posted by FrumVids, a porn site that caters to the devout Jewish, or “frum,” community.

If you know anything about the Orthodox community, this information may surprise you. For devout Jews, watching porn is forbidden, and many Orthodox rabbis equate male masturbation with wasteful “spilling of seed” — harmful, offensive and dangerous. But despite what rabbis might say, humans are human, and humans like to fuck, especially after they see people like them having the kind of sex they wish they could. 

“Yossi,” FrumVids’ pseudonymous moderator, uploads Orthodox-targeted videos and photos to his website, many of which he teases on Twitter under the handle @FrumSex. Often, his porn is characterized by typical Jewish symbols and imagery — there are hashtags like #KosherSexRevolution, cheeky shots of buttocks and breasts beneath modest, traditional clothing and a woman lying on a table, naked, with a full loaf of challah delicately covering her crotch. 

FrumVids is the most popular frum porn website, but it’s not the first. Before the modern phenomenon of “frum porn” made its way to Twitter, Orthodox Jews looking to get a little freaky online had to do it more discreetly, particularly on private Yahoo! groups or blogs like shaindy.com, a now defunct adultery site for, you guessed it, Orthodox Jews. 

According to the New York Post, Shaindy was named after the first mistress that “Jerry,” the site’s founder, had and enjoyed. It apparently boasted around 2,000 users, each of whom threw down a $99 annual fee to solicit extramarital affairs. All types of Jews signed on to Shaindy — Reform, Conservative, Chassidic, you name it. But what caught the public’s interest most was the growing number of “ultra-Orthodox,” or Haredi Jews, who flocked to the site in spite of the Torah’s categorization of adultery as one of the three greatest sins, right alongside incest and murder. 

Yet, despite the huge following that Jerry purported to have, Shaindy shuttered after just nine months, shocking the Orthodox community and sparking claims that it was nothing more than a blackmail site. “Imagine what would happen to my children’s [Orthodox Jewish arranged marriage] resume if it was found out that mommy and tatty [sic] were swingers,” said one anonymous user in 2009 to Frum Satire, a Jewish blog that reported Shaindy’s closing. 

This offhand comment alludes to how important, and sometimes even damning, reputation can be in small Orthodox communities. American Jews who fit under the broad term of “Orthodox” make up a very small part of the population — only an estimated amount of 500,000 people — but they must abide by tzniut, a moral code impressed upon many Orthodox Jews that asks them to strive toward reservation in both dress and manner. 

The website My Jewish Learning puts it this way: “Tzniut means discreet habits, quiet speech and affections privately expressed, and infers the avoidance of grossness, boisterous laughter, raucous behavior, even ‘loud’ ornaments.” Porn, in many ways, is the opposite of tzniut, or hefkerut, which My Jewish Learning describes as “looseness, the absence of restraint and inhibition.” 

Acting in accordance with hefkerut rather than tzniut can lead to social consequences, like your neighbor’s scrutiny and exclusion — a phenomenon that often pervades small communities regardless of social affiliation — as well as Orthodox-specific consequences like, as mentioned above, having a hard time making a marriage match for your children. 

But still, there was a silver lining to Shaindy’s existence. The site, along with years of frum-seeking-frum personal ads posted on Craigslist, helped uncover a new type of adult content for an audience that kept waiting for it: frum porn, the exact same content that can be found on FrumVids or anywhere ultra-Orthodox porn is sold. 

Although there was, and is, certainly a demand for frum porn, it was derided on Jewish blogs when the term first started popping up. One of those blogs was Frum Satire, which was started by the equally Orthodox comedian Heshy Fried in 2006. Before Shaindy shut down, he wrote a blog post for Tablet Magazine’s former blog Jewcy which asked the simple question, “What Is Frum Porn?” Well, nearly everything, it seems — in the post, Fried defines it as “hot women wearing nothing but sheitels [a wig worn by married Orthodox women],” or perhaps just “new and exciting varieties of smut online.” 

This broad definition of “porn” is important to keep in mind when attempting to understand frum porn more deeply. In a community where talking about sex is taboo and usually kept to the confines of marital sex, the word “porn” is often used to describe written erotica, photos and mildly sexy outfits, in addition to the explicit videos that are most popularly identified as “porn.” 

The broad definition of “frum porn” also alludes to what makes porn, either watching it or participating in it, so salacious in the Orthodox community — there isn’t a lot of it, and there isn’t a huge audience for it, either. Sex work suffers from a bad reputation in general, but participating in porn, either as a viewer or creator, in a devout and often insular community comes with additional baggage.

Frieda Vizel, who was raised in the small Hasidic sect Satmar and now acts as a tour guide of Hasidic Brooklyn, talked to me over email about her personal experience with sexual attitudes of the Orthodox community. “My experience of female sexuality [in the Satmar community] has been similar in many ways to how sexuality was taught, or not taught, a hundred years ago,” says Vizel. “Women would pass around information through the network, or sneak books to get information. In general, I feel very uncomfortable with frum porn. It feels like it can be tremendously exploitative of the woman, who stands to risk a lot more if her identity gets out.”

“I used to get pictures of half undressed religious women,” continues Vizel, “and I’d just go, ‘Okay, whatever, she’s having fun,’ but as I’ve gotten more mature, I’ve come to see it as a lot more sinister. Who makes sure these films aren’t revenge porn or exploitative? What kind of checks are there on FrumVids to make sure everyone [involved] agrees [with distribution]? Remember, this is a very patriarchal society, and men have a lot of ingrained habits that might lead them to think certain acts of coercion or exploitation are cool, and that makes it doubly dangerous.”

FrumVids is members-only, offering a subscription for $29.95 a month (or you can buy a set of clips or a DVD from their website), and has a very active Twitter account, where you can catch a glimpse of the videos and photos that they offer. They’re pretty much all amateur and Orthodox-flavored in appearance — there are grainy naked photos of pregnant women, casual faceless selfies seemingly sent in by frum women themselves, and yarmulke-wearing men casually jacking off during a bus ride. But to Vizel’s point, it’s not clear where the content comes from, how the participants feel about it or whether everyone involved properly consented. 

Unlike mainstream porn, frum porn actors don’t have social media presence. They don’t give interviews, they often don’t show their faces and you never learn their names, not even their aliases. The levels and layers of secrecy can sometimes feel so stacked that it’s difficult to feel completely comfortable watching. 

When I ask Yossi over email why he started the site, his answer was simple: “Because I like sex.” There was, and still is, an under-served niche of Orthodox Jews who do too, he says. He considers it his job to meet their needs. 

He says there is no “typical [Orthodox] actor,” just “regular people” who reach out to him if they’re interested in creating content, and didn’t want to elaborate further on sourcing aside from describing it as “discreet.” Beyond his site, the only other online resources for frum porn are people who collect and exchange photos in rare exchange groups on Telegram and Facebook. But since many of these groups have fallen into disuse, he relies almost exclusively on Twitter to find frum who want to watch porn tailored to their community. 

Twitter is surprisingly rife with frum accounts looking to dabble in sexual activity with other frum people. @EsterFrum posts seemingly tame, fully-clothed photos and receives masturbation videos from men in return. @Frumkinky is run by the frum couple Yossi and Chavi (a different Yossi), who tell me over DM that they were into “Orthodox fun” and preferred “making and living porn” instead of simply watching it. There are also non-Jewish people who cater to the frum community on Twitter, like pro-domme @frum_mistress, who says all her clients are Orthodox or belong to another Jewish sect. “They just want to be understood and able to express themselves,” she explains. “A lot of the time, their wives aren’t interested, or they’re too scared to tell their wives. Many of them are in marriages that they otherwise wouldn’t want to be in, and have kids they were too young to want to have.” 

Which made me wonder: Where, if anywhere, are all the sexed-up frum women at? Every time I thought I’d finally come across a woman’s profile on the horny annals of Orthodox porn Twitter, she turned out to be paired with a man or trying to defy one — as part of a couple’s Twitter, in a photo submission with no indication of who she is or waiting to be bombarded with comments of immodesty from male followers for posting a photo of boobs fully covered by a long-sleeved shirt. From the ratio of male-to-female frum Twitter profiles and the comments that many women receive, it seems that Orthodox women are often ogled at, shamed and harmed with only rare opportunities to connect with their bodies and sexuality as individuals. 

In one attempt to publicly shame “sexy” Orthodox women online, the phrase “hot chani” began to circulate a few years ago on the Jewish blogosphere (according to Urban Dictionary, a “hot chani” is a “yeshivish Jewish girl who covers her hair with a wig and wears super tight clothing”). The journalist and former Satmar member Frimet Goldberger wrote a satirical article responding to the phrase in 2013, jokingly calling for all women regardless of faith to start dressing like Satmar women with “long-sleeved refrigerator boxes, short wigs… and bulletproof stockings,” suggesting that a deep adherence to modesty must be the only way to deflect the dastardly roaming eyes of Orthodox men. 

Over email, Goldberger tells me, “Generally speaking, modesty culture distorts and perverts sexuality. The focus on modesty, or tznius, where I grew up was the be-all and end-all. It bred sexual dysfunction in a multitude of ways, and a fixation on the female body as shameful — and sexuality in general as sinful.” 

“The more frum a community is,” she continues, “the more they repress sexuality and view the woman as a vessel of sin for men. The obsession with modesty in these cloistered communities stems from a need to protect men from the evil that is the female form.”

It’s difficult to reconcile the supposed evil of the female form with the nascent enterprise of FrumVids and frum porn in general. FrumVids is filled with images of frum women sexually performing for an often faceless, seemingly insatiable audience that potentially doesn’t respect their basic personhood. One image that particularly disturbed me was a photoset of a supposedly married frum woman removing her sheitel and revealing her natural hair, which is considered sacred and can symbolize a very personal decision for the women who choose to cover it. Looking at the photo, I wondered, how does this woman feel about the entire internet being able to see her hair? Her face, aside from a glimpse at an inscrutable half-smile, is left out of the photos, so we don’t know. 

Women everywhere are familiar with the uncomfortable and inescapable feeling of living life filtered through the male experience. For frum women involved in porn, that can mean having men online jerking off to your extremely intimate home photos and while still being called a slut because your wig is too long. It seems like if frum porn is ever to flourish in a truly safe and enjoyable way, frum women need to be part of the conversation — listened to, understood and respected. 

There hasn’t been any public backlash to frum porn or the participation of Orthodox women in porn, but considering the incredulousness of Jewish news sites like The Forward and Hey Alma, you get the sense that it’s something that remains largely hidden and unspoken. It’s the Boo Radley of porn, and as Yossi implores me to consider, “Forget porn, you in a bikini would cause a scandal.”

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