Little did I know that when I left liberal America for the more conservative Israel that I would be arriving during a mini sexual revolution. It turns out that quite a few Israeli’s are playing with a little something extra in the bedroom and toy makers and retailers are responding quickly. You can go online and buy kosher sex toys or stroll down to your local adult toy store for couples enhancers, (the Israeli version of an sex toy store) and pick up the Jerusalemites favourite toy; the vibrator (reads: a couples pleasure enhancer), with relative ease.

The other day I took shelter from the rain in a nearby store only to find myself in front of a display of sensual oils and romantic aids. It turns out I was in “Sense”. a love store that opened a couple of years ago. I waited out the downpour while chatting with the manager and what I learned really surprised me.
First off it definitely wasn’t like an adult store back in America, and don’t let the staff hear you call it that either, they prefer to call themselves a love store and claim their business as dealing in romance and foreplay. In fact no actual sex toys were on display where I could see them and when curiosity finally got the better of me the friendly manager, no doubt mistaking my curiosity for a possible sale, eagerly opened several drawers stocked full of toys before pulling out a slick purple vibrator that he said was his best seller, the Flora from Fun Factory.

It turns out that about 20% of Israelis use sex toys and the most popular toy for both men and women is the vibrator. That’s understandable as the largely Jewish population here would consider it acceptable for a couple to use a vibrator during foreplay or for the woman to use it to masturbate; as long as the man doesn’t masturbate or end up spilling his seed.

In Jewish law sex is considered a mitzvah within the confines of marriage and foreplay is even encouraged. Capitalizing on what he’s seen as an untapped market the adventurous Rabbi Alexander has started an online love store of his own for Orthodox Jews all presented in a kosher manner. There are no racy images, no naked women, and no phallic symbols. The website also offers advice from experts and therapists from various streams of Orthodox Judaism to help users navigate their way through the sometimes confusing world of sexual relations. According to the Rabbi the appeal of his site is not in the toys themselves but in how they are presented as tools to further a couples intimacy within the confines of their marriage. Still, a toy purchased from this site is the same as a toy from another; there’s nothing special about the toy that makes it kosher, so that Fun Factory vibrator is safe for Jews to play with whether it’s from Rabbi Alexander or an online retailer that actually calls itself an adult store.

It’s been interesting to see how the Israeli’s handle the evolving attitudes towards sexuality in contrast to those in America and sometimes the differences are not as large as I would have expected. I’m certainly not against the progress, especially when it comes to women’s freedoms and sexuality, but in honour of my journey as an Aliyah I think that from now on I’ll make sure to carry an umbrella lest I get caught in one of the new fetish shops I heard about a couple of minutes ago.

References:

  • http://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2015-05-20/toy-vey-the-rabbi-selling-kosher-vibrators
  • http://www.timesofisrael.com/rabbi-puts-o-in-torah-with-online-sex-shop/
  • http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4270081,00.html
  • https://www.funstuff.co.il/Israel-fetish-stores.aspx
  • http://www.jpost.com/Local-Israel/In-Jerusalem/A-love-store-story
  • http://www.jewfaq.org/sex.htm