It is a dance fitness programme that has taken the world by storm — and Jews are no exception.
Zumba’s combination of samba, salsa and mambo is so popular among Jewish women that ‘Jumba’ — and even, for Charedim, ‘Frumba’ — classes have sprung up from London to New York.
But in a video posted online this week, Brooklyn Rabbi Zecharia Wallerstein said that the dance craze can lead Jewish women towards pole dancing and prostitution.
He said: “Zumba will become pole, pole will become prostitution and you will lose all of your kids… The whole world is just falling apart.”
The Orthodox rabbi, who regularly posts his lectures online, described his shock two years ago when Zumba dance classes first appeared in Brooklyn.
Explaining his reaction, he said he asked himself: “What are you dancing like an animal for? You do the class, then you come home and sit down with your children, with the voice in your ears of these animals?”
The rabbi also suggested that Zumba dancers were “like monkeys in the jungle”.
For 81-year-old Valerie Olive — who not only attends Zumba classes, but also teaches them in her retirement home in East Finchley — the dance regime is a great way to socialise and stay young, and should carry no moral caveat.
She said: “I teach a class to 12 over-80s every week, and they love dancing along to the music. I don’t think any of us are in danger of prostitution.”