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Frum Breslov boys from Mea Shearim, Jerusalem, 2011

Frum (Yiddish: פֿרום, lit.'religious', 'pious') is a word that describes Jewish religious devotion.

The term connotes the observance of Jewish religious law in a way that often exceeds its bare requirements. This not only includes the careful study of Torah, daily prayers, observing Shabbat and kashrut, and performing deeds of loving-kindness, but also many more customs and khumrot (prohibitions or obligations in Jewish life that exceed the requirements of Halakha).[1][2]

The term frum contrasts with frei (Yiddish: פֿרײַ, lit.'free'), which describes Jews who are secular or practice non-Orthodox observance, or "free from keeping the… commandments."[3][4]


Frum can be used in a negative sense for 'hypocritically pious', 'holier-than-thou', 'sanctimonious'; or in a positive sense for 'pious', 'devout', 'God-fearing', and 'upright'. The phrase frum and ehrlich captures the positive connotations of these words, to mean roughly 'upright' or 'righteous' (see tzadik).[citation needed]

The question "is s/he frum?" asks whether the person is religious.[1]

Derived terms[edit]

In Yinglish, frummer is used both as a noun for 'one who is frum',[5] and as a comparative adjective, i.e. 'more frum'.[6][7] The prescribed Yiddish comparative form of the adjective is, in fact, frimer.[8][9][10] Frumkeit describes the lifestyle of those who are frum.[5]

Frummer can also have a negative connotation, similar to chasid shoteh ('pious idiot'), which is how the Talmud (Sotah 21B) describes a man who sees a woman drowning, but refuses to save her, and says, "It is not proper to look at her, and rescue her." A frummer in that sense is a person displaying a disproportionate emphasis on technical aspects of religion of one's daily life in a manner which actually violates the halakha in a specific case. (See Pikuach nefesh.) Another term with this meaning is frummie.[5]

A person who is frum from birth (or "FFB") was born into a frum household and has remained observant.[11][12][13] This contrasts with a baal teshuva (literally 'master of return') (or "BT"), a Jew who has become frum after a period or lifetime living a non-Orthodox lifestyle.[14][15]

The Frumba exercise program originated in Chicago as a derivation of the dance based fitness program Zumba.[16] Frumba classes are offered exclusively to women who observe frum forms of tzniut modesty laws, featuring music with less explicit lyrics.[17]

Mode of dress[edit]

Three men with customary head covering praying at the kotel, one wearing an additional spodik hat in the middle

The New York Times defines the word frum as 'religiously observant'.[12] For boys and men, covering the head is an identifier of religiosity.[18] For women, being frum includes adherence to the laws of tzniut, such as modest dress covering the arms and legs.[19] For married women, a head covering is another indicator.[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Dina Kraft (November 10, 2010). "Rapper Finds Order in Orthodox Judaism in Israel". The New York Times.
  2. ^ Zinoman, Jason (June 13, 2018). "What's So Funny About Orthodox Judaism? This Comic Has One Answer". The New York Times.
  3. ^ Miller, Marjorie (July 25, 1997). "Freier". Los Angeles Times.
  4. ^ Roniger, L. (1992). "From pioneer to freier: the changing models". European Journal of Sociology. 33 (2): 280–307. doi:10.1017/S0003975600006470. JSTOR 23997799.
  5. ^ a b c Rabbi Julian Sinclair (November 5, 2008). "Frum". The Jewish Chronicle.
  6. ^ Fried, Heshy (22 June 2011). "Words and statements that make you sound frummer [sic] than you are". Frum Satire. Frum Satire. Retrieved 29 March 2017.
  7. ^ Staff (26 March 2017). "Frummer [sic] Than You". The Jewish Press. Retrieved 29 March 2017.
  8. ^ Kahn, Lily; Rubin, Aaron D., eds. (2016). Handbook of Jewish Languages. Leiden, Netherlands: Koninklijke Brill NV. p. 676. ISBN 9789004297357. Retrieved 29 March 2017. ו (u) becomes י (i), e. g., פֿרום frum 'Jewishly observant' > פֿרימער frimer 'more Jewishly observant'
  9. ^ Stutchkoff, Nahum (1950). Weinreich, Max (ed.). דער אוצר פון דער יידישער שפראך (Der oytser fun der Yidisher shprakh) (in Yiddish). New York: Yidisher Ṿisenshafṭlekher Insṭiṭuṭ. די קאַץ איז שוין פֿרימער פֿאַר אים. ('Di kats iz shoyn frimer far im.' — 'A cat is more pious than he is.')
  10. ^ "פֿרום (Adjective)". Wiktionary. Retrieved 29 March 2017.
  11. ^ Sarah Bunin Benor (2012). "Becoming Frum". Becoming Frum: How Newcomers Learn the Language and Culture. Rutgers University Press. ISBN 978-0-8135-53894. JSTOR j.ctt5hj7wn.
  12. ^ a b Susan Jo Keller (September 20, 1998). "Seeing the Light". The New York Times. born in an observant Orthodox family
  13. ^ a b Tova Ross (December 10, 2013). "When I got married, my sheitel was a symbol of my vows and my Orthodoxy".
  14. ^ Rabbi Aaron L. Raskin. "Tzaddik — The Baal Teshuvah".
  15. ^ "Laws of Repentance 7:4, citing Berakot, 34b. C. G." Mishneh Torah. their degree is above .. did not sin, because it is more difficult for them ..
  16. ^ "JUF News : Tziporah Gelman -- 2013". JUF News. Retrieved 2022-11-20.
  17. ^ Blomquist, Mala. "Scottsdale joins international celebration of Shabbat". Retrieved 2022-11-20.
  18. ^ Sara Levin (April 12, 2019). "Forbes Profiles Modest Fashion Influencers & Other Orthodox Jews in the News".
  19. ^ Naomi Fry (November 2, 2017). "Modest Dressing, as a Virtue". ankle-lengthed, high-necked and voluminous-sleeved .. long-sleeved, high-collared