Septembter 16, 2005

Dear Mrs. Shalit,

I just wanted to thank you for your book. Once I picked up I couldn’t put it down. It basically laid out almost exactly how I felt as a woman. I am 20 years old and have been asking myself questions like "what’s wrong with me? Why haven't I had sex yet? Why am I so embarrassed to talk to guys?" I mean my face gets so red and sometimes I can't even look them in the eye and i grew up with 3 brothers. I am fine around them.

Anyway, reading your book, my faith was restored. I am a romantic. And i was always told that was cute. Another thing said to me most often by people my own age is "you’re a virgin? That’s so cute." I couldn't figure out why I hadn't just slept with this guy or that one like my friends do. And I'll say i was so close to doing that just because I thought it would help me grow up. Be more my own age. Even my mother wanted me to do it. And that's why I thank God I read your book when I did. I began crying towards the end when I realized that nothing was wrong with me and that I was lucky to still have what I have. My desire to be with one person isn't childish or immature. It's Modest. I'm not scared, i just don't have an interest in it as a sport.

So thank you, for guiding me. You have inspired me to guide others. Especially my younger sister who is only 16. I am now trying to getting involved in the Jewish Community. And looking into Orthodox Judaism. It is all so exciting. You have also inspired me to look at women’s studies as a possible major. What do you think of that? Mostly, I want to help others the way you have me by inspiring them to stick with their instincts and stay true to themselves. Not only that, but I am encouraging all of my friends (all of whom have had sex) to read your book. It is so empowering to women.

Sorry this email has been so long, but you have truly changed the path of my life, I have so much more to say, but I am sure you get this a lot. So thank you.

Modestly, ;)

Hi Rachel,

Thank you so much for your beautiful letter. I am tremendously flattered that you give me so much credit, but I think you need to give yourself a bit more. You are the one responsible for changing the direction of your life. People can read tons of books and nothing sinks in—I am thinking of diet books in particular—so obviously you are a very strong person. Maybe my book gave you ammunition, but you always knew deep down that what your friends said wasn’t right. You even stood up to your own mother! Wow. That must have been hard.

So now you’re wondering where to go from here. Women’s Studies would be just perfect for you—if you want to torture yourself, that is. Unfortunately, a fundamental tenet of a typical women’s studies department is that there are no meaningful differences between the sexes, and everything you see and experience is merely the result of “social construction.” They also tend to teach that virginity is a “patriarchal construct.” These are all fancy ways of saying, essentially, that you’re not allowed to be you. Obviously there is no harm in sitting in on such classes, but it seems to me you’ve already been sufficiently attacked for the crime of wanting to be true to your own feelings. Been there, done that.

What you really need is a supportive community that helps you develop your unique potential. Exploring Judaism is a wonderful idea (especially as you happen to be Jewish, anyway).

The best program I know of is Neve Yerushalayim College for Women—website is They are in Israel, and run beginner-to-advanced Jewish philosophy programs year-round. The teachers are not only brilliant but also extremely kind people, and I personally found them tremendously inspiring. There are also scholarships available, and options to postpone payment of tuition for those in need. I don’t recommend dropping out of university, since a degree never hurt anyone (unless you major in women's studies). But the next time you have a few weeks on break, you might consider sitting in on one of Neve’s sessions.

Heritage Retreats—also has a great learning program for college students in Santa Barbara and in New York.

Where do you live? If you let me know, I may be able to connect you to something closer.

And when you do eventually make it to Israel, be sure not to take buses or travel downtown. This is for your own safety, but mostly it’s to make your parents feel better. Although there’s a generational divide about the value of virginity today, your parents still love you very much.

Please stay in touch & let me know how you are doing from time to time!

Every blessing,


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