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August 29, 2014 / 3 Elul, 5774
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The Other Side Of The Mechitzah (Continued)

Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

Last week I shared the first part of a letter from a divorced man who complained that when it comes to divorce people generally are biased in favor of women. Our letter writer suffered for several years in an untenable marriage. His wife was emotionally ill. She needed constant medication, which she often neglected to take. There were two children involved and they were being damaged by the chaos in the home.

Here is the rest of his letter, followed by my response.

My situation became so unbearable that I realized I no longer had a choice. While I wanted to stay in the marriage because of the children, I also saw the children were suffering terribly, and would continue to whether I stayed or not. My wife’s mood swings left them battered and scarred.

Initially I did not want to burden my parents with my situation but once they became aware of it they encouraged me to leave. After much soul searching I concluded that if I did get a divorce, at least I would be able to take the children to my parents’ home so they might see a normal family and bask in the love of adoring grandparents.

A serious problem was my status as a kohen, which meant my chances for a second marriage would be limited. Yet to go on this way was impossible. I decided I had no option but to get a divorce.

My wife’s parents are wealthy and well respected. They have pull in the community. The get and divorce were accompanied by much stress and the kind of expenses I could ill afford. I did not have money, nor did my parents. I did not have a lucrative job. We lived day to day and depended on my wife’s family’s help. Nevertheless, I forged ahead and do not regret my decision. My children, baruch Hashem, are doing much better. They love Shabbos with their bubbie and zaidie and are thriving in school.

I have tried to date, but once the shadchanim learn I’m a kohen, they usually tell me they’ll do their best but that I should realize the options are very limited. “This lady would be perfect but she cannot marry a kohen” – I’ve heard that mantra again and again. I cannot deny it has been depressing, but despite everything the children are much better off and I have more peace in my life.

A few weeks ago some of my friends who are also divorced told me about the Shabbaton for frum divorced people where you were scheduled to speak. They urged me to join them. “A gathering of divorcees?” I asked dismissively. “For sure I will not find anyone there for me.”

Nevertheless, I was persuaded to go. I went without expectations but had an amazing surprise – your talk. You reminded me of my purpose as a Jew, which is so easy to forget in our tumultuous times. Avraham Avinu was charged by Hashem with an awesome mission – “Be a Blessing.” No matter where life takes you, no matter many how many hardships, no matter how many failures, be a blessing to others.

I am writing this for two reasons. One, to thank you; and two, to make people aware that it’s not only mothers who suffer when a divorce takes place but fathers as well.

I have not given up hope. I know that B’ezrat Hashem I will find my bashert and build a bayis ne’eman b’Yisrael. I extend my appreciation and berachahs to you, Rebbetzin. May Hashem enable you to continue doing your vital work for many more years. I do not expect a response. I just wanted your readers to know and understand the voice from the other side of the mechitzah.”

…………………………………… My Dear Friend,

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One Response to “The Other Side Of The Mechitzah (Continued)”

  1. I love Rabetzin Esther she is so sweet and wise!

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