April 22, 2011
This week I learned a new word, Frumgid, a cross between frum (religious) and frigid.
Now I am a tactile sort of person but if I touch it’s a sign of affection and warmth, not a sexual advance. Some people misunderstand and this could get me into trouble.
There was one respected senior member of the Board of Deputies who never spoke to me again after I kissed her on the cheek when I greeted her. Had she been showing obvious signs of being frum, for example wearing a sheitle (wig) then I would not have kissed nor touched but as she didn’t, I did, and she got offended as she is obviously, Frumgid.
Today I met the mother in law of a young friend of mine who is in Manchester for Pesach and who wears a sheitle. I was delighted to see her again but didn’t even offer a hand in greeting as she would be ‘frumgid’.
A few weeks ago I accepted an invitation to attend the new Sephardi Minyan in Hale close to where we live and as I had never before attended this Minyan, and heard that they have an amazing Kiddush, I set off up the hill for a forty minute walk.
The warmth of the welcome in the home of one of their Kehilla (community) was welcoming and the service was different from mine and very interesting and enjoyable. There were some Ashkenazim (Europeans) like me but most were Sephardim (middle eastern) whose families had come from diverse areas such as Iraq, Iran, Syria and Egypt although mostly second or third generation British.
As promised Kiddush lived up to anticipations and the Cholent (stew) was exceptional with boiled eggs, chick peas, meat and potatoes.
Conversation was very friendly and when I was leaving the young Rabbi who had welcomed me so warmly gave me the traditional Sephardi farewell of a kiss on both cheeks.
Now I don’t get kissed by many men, especially bearded ones, but that warmth and sense of belonging was very special and I was so delighted that these people were not in any way Frumgid which has encouraged me to revisit on another occasion.
In Europe it is an accepted salutation to kiss on both cheeks, much warmer than a hand shake and a sign of affection. Young people that you see in the street all hug when they meet their friends again as a mutual feeling of camaraderie.
So I am thinking of campaigning for the banning of ‘frumgidity’ and the promotion of mutual affection.