web analytics
March 4, 2015 / 13 Adar , 5775
At a Glance
Blogs
Sponsored Post


He Murdered his Daughter

What would compel a devout Jewish father to take the life of his own child?

91TM5APrUvL._SL1500_

Guest Post by Suzzane Handler

Mental Illness is one of those subjects that is still pretty much taboo to talk about in the Orthodox Jewish community. And that can lead to tragic consequences. No more tragic than what happened in Cheyenne, Wyoming almost 80 years ago.

I think it is high time we start the conversation. I can think of no better time to do so than during the Aseres Yemei Teshuva. The following was sent to me by Catherine Goldberg whose opening words introduce Suzzane Handler. She wrote a book about her Orthodox grandfather – a man who murdered his own daughter.

My name is Catherine Goldberg. I’m a big fan of Emes Ve-Emunah and look forward to learning something new everyday every time you post. It always makes me think. I just wanted to share something I’m working on and I thought your community may be interested in.

I found this book called The Secrets They Kept. (It is) about an Orthodox Jew who murdered his youngest daughter who was schizophrenic instead of having her committed.

I got in touch with the author (whose) name is Suzanne Handler and she’s fabulous. We talked about how there’s a big stigma in the Jewish community that bad stuff like schizophrenia or abuse doesn’t happen to us. We both agreed this is not a safe way to think. There’s a lot of guilt and shame associated it with and when that’s internalized that can be really dangerous.

Secret keeping, especially throughout generations is devastating. (T)his book… says it’s OK to talk about this, and by sharing your story we can begin to move forward.

We also talked about what this has to do with forgiveness and Yom Kippur. Suzanne had to forgive her family for keeping this horrible secret from her. I think once she did forgive her family her quality of life improved significantly.

Maybe Yom Kippur is a good time to talk about this and how it relates to mental illness in the Jewish community.

In hopes of raising awareness, Suzanne sent me a little piece that she wrote about her story. She’s hoping that her story will get people talking.

The reason why I was so drawn to this is because a good friend of mine was schizophrenic and committed suicide during our senior year of college. He was Jewish too and I was really torn between this idea that Jewish law says you can’t mourn a suicide and realizing this kid was sick. We’ve made a lot of progress on how we approach mental illness but not enough. It would be amazing if by spreading Suzanne’s story I could raise awareness and money for schizophrenia research or something.

The following was written by Suzzane Handler:

What would compel a devout Jewish father to take the life of his own child?

On June 28th of this year, The Intermountain Jewish News (IJN) ran a feature article detailing the dramatic events contained in my book, The Secrets They Kept: The True Story of a Mercy Killing That Shocked a Town and Shamed a Family. For your convenience, I have provided the link to that piece below. Chris Leppek, assistant editor of the IJN and the person who wrote the article, has granted permission for his story to be reprinted, with the caveat that his name and that of the paper be appropriately cited. He does so in the hope that thoughtful discussions regarding the stigma of mental illness in our society will follow.

Here is a brief summary of the story: In 1937, in Cheyenne, Wyoming, my maternal grandfather, Sam Levin, shot and killed his 16 year-old daughter. The girl, Sally, had been diagnosed with dementia praecox (mid-century term for schizophrenia) and was to be sent to an insane asylum, presumably for the rest of her life. Declared incurable and a danger to herself and others, Sally begged her father to end her life, as well as his own, in a joint murder/suicide pact. On August 16,th of that year, my grandfather, exhausted and desperate from grief and indecision, finally agreed to Sally’s last wish. The girl died within the hour; my grandfather lived and carried the burden of his shame and sorrow to his grave.

Due to the stigma of mental illness then, as well as now, and the nature of my grandfather’s unimaginable crime, this story remained a secret in our family for over 70 decades. Following years of research and soul searching, I have now, at long last, come to the place where understanding meets forgiveness.

I am humbled that The Secrets They Kept: The True Story of a Mercy Killing That Shocked a Town and Shamed a Family, has sold over 8,000 copies and is currently #1 in Mental Health and #7 in Jewish Interest in the Amazon Virtual Book Store.

Visit Emes Ve-Emunah .

About the Author: Harry Maryles runs the blog "Emes Ve-Emunah" which focuses on current events and issues that effect the Jewish world in general and Orthodoxy in particular. It discuses Hashkafa and news events of the day - from a Centrist perspctive and a philosphy of Torah U'Mada. He can be reached at hmaryles@yahoo.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

One Response to “He Murdered his Daughter”

  1. pamgreen says:

    70 decades?  This blog needs an editor!

Comments are closed.

Binyamin and Chaya Maryles, uncle and aunt of Emes Ve-Emunah author Harry Maryles.
Current Top Story
Pelosi turns her back on Netanyahu and Congress.
Netanyahu Says Israel Can Stand Alone – and Pelosi Turns her Back [video]
Latest Blogs Stories
Doug Goldstein

Why is it necessary to be accountable in business and in life? And how does it differ from guilt?

Americans have a more favorable view of Netanyahu than they do of Obama.

I’d rather you label me a concerned Jew, an Israeli. Someone who cares about the future of my nation

Jeffrey Goldberg

Goldberg chose to believe two impossible things before I had breakfast this morning.

bibi's speech

The State Department claims Bibi revealing details of the bad Iranian deal to Americans would be a “betrayal”.

“Please stop shushing me” They kept shushing! Shushing seems to be how Leftists do Israeli politics!

Labor-Livni post-Zionist party’s campaign based on their claim they know how to keep the US happy

Mentioning genocide in the same breath as Susan Rice crosses a redline about Obama’s foreign policy

What are the ramifications of giving up your US citizenship? Would it effect your visiting the US?

Chasidim believe that Metzitza B’Peh (MbP) is an essential part of the circumcision ritual.

AMERICAN INTERFERENCE in ISRAELI ELECTIONS is IMMORAL and 1000% CHUTZPADIK!

Extremism from Jews is considered a “danger;” Arab extremism and anti-Jewish terror is “legitimate”

It was in fact Israel, not Palestinians or journalists, who began spreading the older photos, in order to generate credibility for the “slander” angle.

Next week we celebrate Purim, more relevant and illuminating in light of current events than ever

“They all attack each other” is how David described campaign tactics. “Welcome to politics, my son,”

Most Israelis think kowtowing to US demands to get on Obama’s “good side” won’t work and isn’t right

More Articles from Harry Maryles
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach

Mentioning genocide in the same breath as Susan Rice crosses a redline about Obama’s foreign policy

brit mila at French jewish community

Chasidim believe that Metzitza B’Peh (MbP) is an essential part of the circumcision ritual.

Lapid is not anti-Haredi; He’s pro-Haredi in his way, wanting them to flourish. and join society

If Bibi is in the US already Pres. Obama MUST meet with the leader of America’s closest ally!

Sherut Leumi is the national service many women choose in lieu of military service-

My understanding of Footsteps is that they have no religious – or anti-religious agenda.

A violent confrontation between 2 groups erupted at the Ponevezh Yeshiva; dozens injured

There should be more information about intimacy disseminated to young people before they get married

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/haemtza/he-murdered-his-daughter/2013/09/12/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: