Published on Voices of New York – January 22, 2015
Perl Wolfe and Dalia Shusterman, two Hasidic women living in Crown Heights, make up Bulletproof Stockings, an alt-rock band that plays only for women.
Bulletproof Stockings is breaking the mold in the Hasidic community, where women generally do not sing.
Religious Jews follow kol isha, a law which prohibits Jewish men from listening to a woman’s singing voice. In practice, that law has been interpreted – incorrectly – to mean that Jewish women can’t sing. But the group is quick to point out that the onus is on the man – freeing them to sing however they please.
The two women live together in a Crown Heights apartment, booking gigs and rehearsing in a living room scattered with the toys of Shusterman’s four elementary-age sons. Before each performance, the women study the Torah together.
The band plays blues-inspired alternative rock at city bars and clubs, including the Lower East Side rock venue Arlene’s Grocery and Bar Matchless in Greenpoint. The pair are often joined by cellist Elisheva Maister and violinist Dana Pestun.