The Instagram Rebranding of Taharat ha-Mishpahah

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Lindsey Bodner


With the words “mikvah,” “pregnancy and postpartum,” “male and female infertility,” “taharat ha-mishpahah,” “consent,” and “PCOS” flashing on the screen, a woman lip-syncs the song, “My Favorite Things” from the Sound of Music, deadpan. (“Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, bright copper kettles, and warm woolen mittens…these are a few of my favorite things.”)[1]

Infertility and postpartum, among the others, are rarely among people’s favorite things, but the tongue-in-cheek video “reel” on the Instagram account is part of a pioneering effort to educate through humor and validate practitioners of taharat ha-mishpahah, Jewish laws of family purity. 

This trend is part of the larger wave of Orthodox Jewish women using social media to engage, educate, and curate particular businesses and identities. Plenty of frum influencers use social media to inspire. Some have used their platforms to open up taboo topics like the plight of agunot and struggles with infertility, and others have broken new ground by using levity to discuss aspects of religious study and practice. Still, taharat ha-mishpahah influencers, particularly those who use humor, shatter multiple molds. 

Those who practice taharat ha-mishpahah, mostly Orthodox married couples, have traditionally been instructed to be highly discreet about their practice. Typically people learn the mechanics of taharat ha-mishpahah when they are engaged to be married in several hours of private or small-group hatan or kallah classes in the weeks or months leading up to the wedding. For the average person observing the laws, supplemental learning takes place mostly ad hoc when questions arise. Specific questions that come up in the course of practice are directed to the couple’s halakhic authority, though some couples are uncomfortable asking.[2] Of the books available, some provide philosophical scaffolding,[3] and others offer halakhic outlines[4] and/or issue-specific[5] analysis from modern, centrist, and right wing Othodox perspectives. Few, however, include include scientific explanations or sex education, and fewer still address women’s lived experiences.[6] Over the past several decades, efforts have been made, in no small part by Nishmat, a Modern Orthodox educational institution that rigorously trains women in taharat ha-mishpahah and women’s health, to increase learning and transparency in these matters. Synagogues, organizations, and high schools sometimes provide foundational courses, “refreshers,” or classes addressing special topics. However, Instagram provides validation largely missing from taharat ha-mishpahah education, and it is more public and far-reaching than any of these endeavors. In fact, it likely reaches a wider audience than all of these efforts in the aggregate.  

Orthodox Instagram
In the early decades of the twenty-first century, some in the Orthodox community readily embraced the internet, while others proceeded with caution or eschewed it entirely. Short of the most extreme positions, rabbis and community leaders have permitted or encouraged at least some limited uses of the internet, including social media. Within the social media universe, Instagram was initially considered the least problematic platform by right-of-center Orthodox communities because, at least early on, users could curate their accounts and choose to view limited appropriate content.[7] It also happens to be one of the most popular platforms outside the frum world, so Instagram proved attractive for many reasons and uses. 

In their 2019 article, which discusses the impact of social media on taharat ha-mishpahah observance, Atara Eis and Laurie Novick, observe that “[t]he virtual community is a new type of Jewish street (or neighborhood),” one that may include more Jewish diversity than many of our actual neighborhoods.[8] The presence of Hasidic and Yeshivish Jews alongside their Modern Orthodox, pluralistic, and secular co-religionists has given rise to a rich tapestry of Jewish content on Instagram. And while many Orthodox Jews use other platforms like Twitter, Facebook,[9] Pinterest, and Tiktok, Instagram remains the most popular among right-wing Orthodox users, who make up a significant portion of the creators and consumers of taharat ha-mishpahah content. Women in particular tend to use the Instagram platform, whereas generally men are more active on Twitter and in other media like podcasting.

Yoetzet Halacha Shiffy Friedman, who records some of Nishmat’s reels, attributes the public’s high level of engagement with the Nishmat account to social media’s dual – and sometimes contradictory – functions: the potential to create community while providing a cover of anonymity or privacy that makes people feel more comfortable asking questions or sharing feelings that they might not express in traditional settings.[10]

Content Creators and Audience

     A. Individuals

A man lip-syncs in the car to, “Any way you want it…” by Journey, and the camera pans to influencer Malka Chana Amichai in the passenger seat. At least one toddler is visible in the backseat. Amichai, known by her Instagram handle as “The Bohemian Balabusta,” nods and smiles knowingly. On-screen flash the words, “Did you know a Jewish man has an obligation to please his wife? [wink emoji] State your needs ladies [wink emoji, kiss emoji].” 

The post, which references the obligation of a Jewish husband to give his wife sexual pleasure and be responsive to her desire, received over 1,000 likes and many more views.

Israel-based Amichai’s Instagram account began in November 2020. In her biography line, she calls herself a “Lover, Mother x4, Spiritual Seeker, Torah Observer, Birth Worker, Marriage Educator, Nature/Earth Nurturer, Colorful Styler, DIY Creator, Healthy Homemaker.” Amichai posts recipes and humorous, frank, and sometimes raw content about motherhood, body positivity, and marriage in trendy, boho-fashion with vintage filtered photos and videos. She frequently writes about taharat ha-mishpahah, encouraging women to learn more about it, perhaps through the refresher course she offers online.

In another post, Amichai says, “…it is never too late to reframe your experience/practice of this mitzvah…” She believes that women are empowered through practical learning and independently managing day-to-day aspects of their taharat ha-mishpahah observance. 

On the surface, the spiritual, Israel-based Amichai could not be more different from a full-time OBGYN in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, except that both are observant women who have achieved fame on Instagram for their empowering taharat ha-mishpahah-related content. In addition to her main career, Dr. Elissa Hellman dreamed of starting a medical practice geared toward Orthodox women. During COVID, when so much of life moved online, she took the opportunity to open a telemedicine gynecology business with courses and individual online medical consults called “The Confident Kallah.” Her Instagram page shares the same name.

Hellman describes her mission as “empower[ing] the female Jewish community with women’s health education that is, in my opinion, sorely lacking in the curricula at many Orthodox schools and in many (not all!) homes.” She adds, “just because you’re a frum woman doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be educated.”[11]

“The Confident Kallah” currently has over 9,600 followers on Instagram, and several of its reels have gone viral. With regular content covering topics of special interest to observant women such as spotting versus bleeding, single Jewish women and sexual health, explaining concepts in taharat ha-mishpahah to a doctor, female masturbation, having intercourse on the wedding night, and halakhic infertility, Hellman finds it rewarding when viewers learn something from her reels and are able to interact more effectively with their medical providers. Hellman says she aims to give observant women “the education to ask questions, not just be told what to do. I want women to have the confidence to say ‘these are my priorities; what are my options?’”[12]

Hellman has proven her creativity and skill at finding ways to present medical and halakhic issues through the lens of comedy. Some of her recent posts address irregular bleeding, an issue that can carry additional consequences for married observant women. In one reel she lip-syncs to a track of a woman’s voice sounding ditzy saying, “Yeah, I’d love to ‘go with the flow,’ but like, what time does the flow start? Is that like a formal start time?…”[13] As to why she uses humor, Hellman says, “if you want to educate on this forum, you have to grab people’s attention, otherwise they will scroll past.” 

As these examples demonstrate, accounts approach the information from different angles. Though already providing niche content for a particular audience, many of the most successful accounts hone in on a particular medical, personal, or spiritual focus. Here are some other individuals who post significant taharat ha-mishpahah content and use humor: 

  • Yoledet Academy, run by Chanie (Alex) Fingerer, a labor and delivery nurse and host of “The Happy Birthways Podcast,” explores topics related to birth specifically for an audience of observant women.

  • Bracha Bard-Wigdor, a birth doula and sex coach, has a following of 19,000 and posts about trauma and birth. She gives advice and shares stories from her personal life and professional experiences.

  • Chana Carlebach, an intimacy coach and rebbetzin, uses her Instagram account to bust myths, inspire her audience with her takes on Torah wisdom, and present information about taharat ha-mishpahah observance in a direct manner.

  • Dear Yoetzet, by Lisa Septimus, Yoetzet Halacha of the Five Towns and Scarsdale combines original humorous reels, parshah thoughts, and static posts.

     B. Organizations and the Nishmat Example

On one hand, it is natural that organizations dedicated to Orthodox women’s health, Halakhah, and mikvah observance would use social media to connect with their audience. On the other hand, using humor on Instagram is a significant departure from the tone and aesthetic[14] of most prior educational efforts.

Nishmat’s Miriam Glaubach Center worked with a social media strategist as it launched its Instagram account.[15] Through that process, Nishmat staff learned about the platform and defined their goals for social media use. Since Instagram algorithms push short reels to viewers before static content, Nishmat decided to make lighthearted and relatable reels in order to reach – and thereby educate – more people. Dena Block, who writes much of the content on the Nishmat Instagram page, says that Nishmat’s most popular reels have over one million views. Most of Nishmat’s reels get between 10,000 and 30,000 views.[16] 

Each of Nishmat’s reels goes through an approval process. Block writes a script for a short video including visual and copy; it is then approved by a team that includes Rabbi Kenneth Auman, dean of Nishmat’s U.S. training center. Next, Block sends the script to a group of yoatzot to record. Once recorded, Block posts the reel to the Nishmat Instagram page, accompanied by several paragraphs of medical and halakhic information on each topic addressed.

In one of Nishmat’s reels, Block looks directly into the camera and lip-syncs to a track of a woman’s spoken voice, “Okay so you know what I just heard, bla bla bla bla bla bla bla, bla bla” while a laugh track plays in the background. On the screen, viewers see a bubble with the words “Me when my kallah teacher tried to explain mevatlei hargashah.” This reel educates about a halakhically significant sensation that may or may not accompany uterine bleeding, a concept many women find confusing when they first learn about it. To the right of the screen sits a longer explanation about the sensation and why Jewish law requires a strict ruling for certain categories of blood stains. 

As this reel illustrates, the information conveyed is decidedly of an insider nature; without knowledge of the basics of the laws of niddah, some of the reels will go over the viewer’s head. Accordingly, the primary target audience for Nishmat’s reels is Modern Orthodox women. Most of Nishmat’s followers are women who either have access to a Yoetzet Halacha or would go to one for halakhic advice, but as it is a public account, anyone can follow its content. Block identifies a significant minority of Nishmat’s Instagram audience as women who are more religiously to the right, something Block says was unexpected but welcome. A smaller percentage of followers include less halakhically observant Jewish women and men, and even some non-Jews.

The number and range of Nishmat’s followers is not only impressive on a numerical level or as a demonstration of the platform’s ability to reach a diverse audience; we can also extrapolate that following taharat ha-mishpahah influencers doesn’t fall neatly into hashkafic frameworks; one doesn’t have to follow the same pesak halakhah or religious philosophy to follow an account. Followers of taharat ha-mishpahah content enjoy an insider type of entertainment and online community, one with boundaries far more porous than they are in real life. 

An Instagram account that exemplifies the fluid nature of the online taharat ha-mishpahah community is Mygiftofmikvah. Run by Mikvah USA, an organization dedicated to building and increasing access to mikvaot, Mygiftofmikvah uses humorous reels to empower women and validate their experiences in marriage and mikvah. As a more right-wing organization, Mikvah USA’s website does not include any photos of women, while its Instagram page, followed by more than 8,800 people, creates a woman-friendly atmosphere featuring many photos and videos of and for women. This choice is in step with other right-wing organizations and publications that have chosen to picture women on social media only.[17] This deliberate choice may signal one or more of the following possibilities: (1) that the Instagram platform is perceived as being less visible and less likely to attract criticism than other parts of the internet; (2) that Instagram is seen as a distinctly female space; and/or (3) that the taharat-hamishpahah Instagram universe provides a uniquely important opportunity for women to connect with each other which is seen as outweighing countervailing considerations that are decisive elsewhere on the internet.

Organizations that might not otherwise use humor may be doing so because of the example set by like-minded organizations and individuals. With the popularity of humorous reels, we are seeing examples of a healthy ability to find humor in daily life and amid challenges, as well as the normalization of these honest conversations. For example, I Was Supposed To Have A Baby is a nonprofit organization whose mission is “to utilize social media to support all Jewish individuals and families struggling to have a child…” While the account, which assumes the observance of taharat ha-mishpahah among some of its followers, mostly employs a serious tone, some of its posts provide support through humor.

The Eden Center (Mercaz Eden), an Israel-based organization focused on women’s halakhic observance and specifically mikvah immersion, also posts on Instagram, and has heretofore stuck to serious and static posts. That may be changing, though. Within the past few months, the Eden Center has posted a few cautiously humorous reels. 

In general, there is relatively little criticism of the taharat ha-mishpahah Instagram space. Sometimes posts garner negative comments or individuals will send private messages with feedback about content. Otherwise, those running the accounts can tell when a post engenders negative feelings because followers will simply “unfollow” the account.[18] Some negative comments center on discomfort with women’s bodies and lived experiences. However, apart from these comments and more general objections to women teaching Torah and participating in social media, most criticism of taharat ha-mishpahah on social media falls into one of two categories: irreverent delivery and inappropriate medium.

     A. Irreverent Delivery

The first type of criticism revolves around perceived lack of respect for Torah content. The quarrel lies with the way in which content is presented — that is to say, with humor. Comments on reels along with my interviews indicate that some critics believe that these topics should be treated with a higher degree of respect, and they do not consider taharat ha-mishpahah appropriate material for jokes.

The taharat ha-mishpahah influencers agree that topics of marital intimacy and Jewish law require reverence in their presentation. They simply believe that while their reels may be humorous, they land squarely on the side of appropriate and respectful of the Torah content they advance.[19] 

For example, Yoetzet Halacha Friedman believes the use of humor breaks down barriers and meets people where they might be struggling. She says of the reels and use of humor, “the point is not really to inspire. It is to validate and create community around parts of observance that can be confusing or hard. I think people, especially the younger generation, appreciate or even expect that kind of honesty.” Scholarship about online instruction backs this up: humor is good for creating online learning communities and increases positive feelings toward the instructor, among the group of learners, and about the subject matter.[20] 

In my view, seen in the context of Instagram and social media, the taharat ha-mishpahah reels, which promote observance and educate, fall on the side of traditional and in-good taste. Though reasonable people can disagree about what might constitute an inappropriate joke, even those who might skew more conservative in their humor may come to place higher value on creating community around learning and observance. Instagram reels reach more people when they are funny, and I would argue the increased exposure to and education about taharat ha-mishpahah is a positive development. 

     B. Medium: Public Sharing of Private Topics

The second category of criticism is specific to taharat ha-mishpahah and relates to text-based and instinctual concerns about the public nature of the content on Instagram.

Text-based arguments may include the prohibition in Mishnah Hagigah 2:1 of teaching arayot, forbidden sexual relationships, to three or more people. While shiurim given in educational spaces – online and offline – as well as larger kallah and hatan classes common in some Hasidic communities – would fall under this rubric of public teaching, they are generally not subject to this criticism. However, assuming arguendo that group classes should be prohibited according to this source, this argument can be deflected: Instagram easily can be distinguished from public teaching and learning because most content on Instagram is recorded and viewed asynchronously and in private. When the reels are recorded, more often than not, the influencer is alone; she is not actually teaching to anyone. The Instagram teacher ought not be subject to the prohibition of public teaching any more than the author of a book on the same topic.

For viewers too, Instagram’s platform affords additional anonymity and modesty because it allows users to view reels without announcing themselves. A taharat ha-mishpahah reel may, for example, garner three comments, generate 1,000 “likes,” and have 50,000 views. It is also possible to send private messages over the platform to reach out for more information. While the account administrator may see how many times the reel was viewed, she does not know the identity of the viewers unless they engage in a public way by “liking” or commenting on the reel, or by following the account. While the influencers may acquire a higher level of celebrity in these niche circles than a traditional teacher of taharat ha-mishpahah, viewers can choose to engage anonymously.

The argument to keep taharat ha-mishpahah out of public conversation may also stem from another source, Shulhan Arukh, Yoreh De’ah 198:48, which harshly condemns women who fail to conceal their mikvah night and by implication, planned intimacy with their husbands:

Some have written that a woman should be modest on the night of immersion. Therefore women are accustomed to conceal the night of their immersion… and [regarding] a woman who fails to do so, the verse says, “cursed be the one who sleeps with an animal.”

This source and others, as well as deeply ingrained principles of modesty, point to a strong presumption in favor of privacy in matters of taharat ha-mishpahah.

Yet there is a difference between speaking about one’s personal experience and relaying information about a practice in general or teaching about the experience of some or many women. In order to teach any practice or transmit values to engaged couples, congregants, mentees, students or beyond, a teacher must necessarily discuss the issues, and the clear reading of the above text certainly does not appear to curse all teachers of the laws of niddah. The Instagram content creators fall into the broad category of teachers seeking to educate and validate. Although some of the humorous reels are written in the first-person to increase personal relatability, the influencers rarely speak in their own voices about their personal experiences but rather about women’s experiences more generally.

Influencer Chana Carlebach sums it up nicely, saying simply, “so many people said to me, what are you doing talking about [sexual intimacy and niddah separation]?” She answers, “The rabbis said, ‘this is a mitzvah like any other mitzvah,’ and we should talk about it in public. Everybody needs to know the Torah view of both times of separation and times of togetherness.”

The Future of the Reels and Taharat Ha-Mishpahah Education
Only time will tell whether or how the Instagram influencers will impact taharat ha-mishpahah education more broadly. Much will depend on the evolving use of the platforms and the migration of users to different platforms. The internet is here to stay, and many anticipate that the right-wing of the haredi world will continue to grapple with how to use it in ways that comport with its values rather than attempt to get adherents offline entirely. Nevertheless, some rabbinic leaders have continued to discourage those who use social media, women in particular, and some popular influencers have left the platforms as a result.  

We may also begin to see negative-skewing or controversial content. The accounts referenced in this article are encouraging about the practice of the laws of niddah, but new accounts are created frequently, and some may eventually take a negative approach. Even for those who intend to encourage observance, a recent brouhaha in Israel serves as a reminder about the volatile and sometimes unforgiving nature of social media. When a philanthropist and mikvah educator paid secular celebrities to publicly speak and post about their experiences practicing taharat ha-mishpahah, secular and religious Jews alike were scandalized, finding it manipulative or immodest, respectively. This news item appears to be blowing over, but it highlights potential for hot-button issues to either popularize taharat ha-mishpahah accounts or draw fierce criticism to the space. 

I predict that the tone of in-person taharat ha-mishpahah education will become lighter, more frank, and more informed as a result of the conversations taking place on Instagram. These reels are also likely to open more robust learning in spaces like high schools, seminaries, colleges, synagogues, and community centers. Though there have been proponents of taharat ha-mishpahah education in these spaces for decades, some have been met with resistance or indifference. As this area of law is normalized, there may be more enthusiasm for education – or at least less reluctance. Even if it means people entering their kallah and hatan classes, their marriages, or their doctor’s offices with slightly more information, this would be a positive development. 

One type of online education – reels – may beget other kinds of online education. Influencers like The Bohemian Balabusta, The Confident Kallah, Chana Carlebach, and others mentioned offer online courses, and we may see more follow suit or create new kinds of online opportunities for entertainment, business, and study.

Whether any Instagram engagement will result in halakhic or hashkafic change is yet undetermined. Potential change on social media, somewhat ironically, may be the result of the congenial, and some might say feminine, style of leadership and communication in the environment, which accommodates a range of opinions and philosophies. 

The taharat ha-mishpahah social media ecosystem boasts creators belonging to the modern, centrist, and right-wing camps of Orthodoxy, and the porous nature of Instagram engagement invites participants from diverse communities.

The taharat ha-mishpahah influencers are supportive of each other, following, and sometimes sharing, “liking,” and commenting on content of fellow accounts. The influencers afford a high degree of respect to differing opinions and practices; there is no public argument between the accounts. Content creators have been careful not to cast aspersions on others even as they attempt to educate and debunk myths around practice. 

One reel published by Nishmat in June 2022 includes an incredulous male voice that said, “Who told you that?” The post was meant to add nuance to the common teaching that a woman must soak in a bathtub for at least thirty minutes in preparation to immerse in the mikvah. Though there was no public outrage, Nishmat quickly removed the reel since it could potentially be perceived as undercutting poskim and educators who hold by the thirty-minute rule. Rather than simply erase the reel, Nishmat also issued an apology in another reel – which used a twinge of its signature humor – and posted more information about the laws related to mikvah preparation. The apology and information was well-received. Comments include, “I so much appreciate your humility…” and “…I found [this] very helpful. Thank you!”

This kind of self-awareness and respectful dialogue creates an atmosphere where women feel comfortable talking about intimate matters and engaging with those who may be outside their religious circles. It enables cross-pollination and exposure to different opinions. Conversancy with lenient opinions or humrot may inform women’s practice and the way educators present material, but it remains to be seen whether Halakhah will shift as a result. It is also uncertain whether that shift would be toward a more conservative or liberal practice, or some mix of the two.

Effectively supporting women and couples includes making space for women’s experiences. Yoetzet Halacha Tova Warburg Sinensky writes about ways in which the observant communities must validate women and couples around the observance of taharat ha-mishpahah. She advises, “Women should receive reassurance that observing niddah is emotionally charged,” and “[i]t is critical…to help women find opportunities to articulate their experiences and receive the support that they need.”

Although education about niddah is improving because of the efforts of yoatzot and other skilled educators and in response to demand,[21] apart from the Instagram accounts, few spaces encourage or highlight expressions of women’s lived experiences around taharat ha-mishpahah. Instagram communities provide a place to explore intersections between Halakhah and medical, emotional, and familial aspects of observance.

It is clear that the taharat ha-mishpahah influencers have expanded, displaced, and relocated a massive amount of educational discourse about taharat ha-mishpahah. The entertaining content draws people in and serves as a validating “wink” to other observant women.

The women’s club-like insider-feeling of the Instagram pages contributes to the beauty and success of the space. While influencers frequently encourage women to consult their halakhic authorities, the content is made by observant women for observant women and feels empowering and paradoxically private, despite the public medium. As the “likes,” views, and followers attest, there are many women who benefit from the education, the expression of women’s lived experiences, and the normalization of conversations about marriage, intimacy, women’s bodies, and health.

[1] Thank you, always, to my husband Rabbi Aviad Bodner for his encouragement, knowledge, and suggestions on early drafts. Thank you to Yoetzet Halacha Tova Warburg Sinensky for her expert draft review and the excellent resources she provided. Many thanks to Dr. Elissa Hellman, and to Yoatzot Shiffy Friedman and Dena Block for their openness and pioneering spirits. Finally, I am grateful to Rabbi Tzvi Sinensky, whose content editing is unparalleled, and to The Lehrhaus for the opportunity to discuss this trend.

[2] An online app option, Tahor, provides anonymous online answers for questions on staining, and Nishmat and Yoatzot Halacha provide additional and at times anonymous text, email, and phone support providing a type of middle ground for some.

[3] Classic examples include, Norman Lamm, Hedge of Roses (Feldheim Publishers, 1966, sixth edition (revised) 1980), and Aryeh Kaplan, Waters of Eden, The Mystery of the Mikvah, 1982.

[4] See, e.g., Deena Zimmerman, A Lifetime Companion to the Laws of Family Purity, Binyomin Forst, The Laws of Niddah Vols I and II., and Rahamim Saul Sultan, A Rose of the Valley: The Laws Of Family Purity According To The Sephardic Custom.

[5] About intimacy, fertility, medical treatments, birth and more. See, e.g. Yaakov Shapiro, Halachic Positions: What Judaism Really Says about Passion in the Marital Bed, Avraham Peretz Friedman, Marital Intimacy: A Traditional Jewish Approach, and Michael Gold, And Hannah Wept: Infertility, Adoption, and the Jewish Couple.

[6] See Devorah Zlochower,  “Preparing Modern Orthodox Orthodox Kallot and Hatanim for Marriage, in Gender Relationships In Marriage and Out, ed. Rivkah Blau (Yeshiva University Press, 2007), 207, for a discussion on available books – and what is lacking in educational literature on taharat ha-mishpahah.

[7] See Rivkah Brown,Rabbis Lost the War on the Internet’ On Instagram, Orthodox Women Find a Voice – and Power,” Haaretz (Oct. 21, 2019), where writer Chany Rosengarten explains her preference for Instagram as a social media platform and the author explores reasons for the platform’s continued popularity.

[8] Atara Eis and Laurie Novick, “Reconstruction in No Man’s Land,” Tradition 51:4 (Fall 2019),

[9] Facebook conversations in groups such as “Frum Women Talk About Intimacy” exist where members post with attribution. This group and others mentioned in Eis & Novick, “Reconstruction in No Man’s Land laid some of the groundwork for the willingness of observant women to engage with these personal topics on Instagram.

[10] Interview with Shiffy Friedman, June 24, 2022.

[11] Interview with Dr. Elissa Hellman, June 30, 2022.

[12] Interview, Hellman.

[13] This voice track was used in other taharat ha-mishpahah accounts’s reels too; it seems this voice track, which played on the word “flow,” resonated with multiple influencers.

[14] Traditional imagery on websites and educational posters online and offline frequently include water, ripples, and flowers. A Google image search of “taharat ha-mishpahah” yields many apt examples. Instagram reel content, by comparison, is significantly more varied.

[15] The high-traffic “Nishmat’s Women’s Health and Halacha” website provides halakhic information about taharat ha-mishpahah. Before opening its Instagram account, Nishmat used a Facebook page, which continues to be active, to communicate on social media. Unlike the Instagram page, Nishmat’s Facebook page is used mostly to advertise events and educational opportunities and highlight the work of its students and graduates.

[16] Interview with Dena Block, June 30, 2022.

[17] See Ann Kofsky, “Congratulations to Mishpacha Magazine! (but no, it’s not enough),” June 3, 2018, (It should be added that Mishpacha Magazine now publishes photos of women in some of the online sections of their publication.)

[18] Hellman interview.

[19] Block interview, Friedman interview.

[20] Crystal McCabe, Katie Sprute, and Kimber Underdown, “Laughter to Learning: How Humor Can Build Relationships and Increase Learning in the Online Classroom,” Journal of Instructional Research, Vol 6 (2017): 4-7,

[21] Over the past decade, and in particular since the pandemic, several observant women lay and scholars alike, have called for improved transparency, education, and support around taharat ha-mishpahah and mikvah. See e.g., Elana Stein Hain, and Mijal Bitton,The Mikvah Never Closed: What the Pandemic Taught Us About Mikvah,The Lehrhaus, March 11, 2021 and Hannah Wegner Tam,My Body for Myself, New York Jewish Week, December 9, 2020.


Lindsey Bodner is a writer, an attorney, and the executive director of the Naomi Foundation, which funds innovation in education in the US and Israel. She proudly supports her husband in his rabbinic work and teaches adults, children, and kallahs.