We encourage women and men of all ages to send in their personal stories via email to email@example.com or by mail to Rachel/Chronicles, c/o The Jewish Press, 338 Third Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y. 11215. If you wish to make a contribution and help agunot, your tax-deductible donation should be sent to The Jewish Press Foundation. Please make sure to specify that it is to help agunot, as the foundation supports many worthwhile causes.
* * * * *
I would like to respond to your comments to Fearful for my Friend (Chronicles 01-01-2010). You seem to bypass and brush off one of the fundamental issues that Fearful raises: the fact that the man her friend is involved with is married. You answer with a simple “why any woman would choose to be in a relationship with a married man is beyond baffling.” Not just baffling, but BEYOND baffling. Well, let me “un-baffle” you because you, and The Jewish Press for that matter, seem to sweep the issues of Jewish infidelity under the proverbial rug of the Jewish Orthodox psyche.
Do you think married men and women have lost their sensual desires? Or even tempered them? Do you feel married individuals don’t venture out into the superficial center of American Jewry called Brooklyn and don’t get attracted to beautiful men or women any longer? Do you feel that the allure of a married individual would NOT be more desirable than the 30-40 year old singles who walk our streets like lepers in pariah-land, branded, in fact, to be lepers by the high standards of Jewish matchmakers and dating society? If you do indeed think that cheating is not a FACT of Jewish life AND that there won’t be married men and women interested in cheating, YOU are a baffling person. So let me educate you.
Perhaps you are unaware of the cheating epidemic that has encapsulated the Jewish and Chassidish world. People cheat for many reasons – to bring joy to themselves amidst a joyless marriage, to escape an abusive spouse, to escape an abusive or confusing sect of Judaism, to bring excitement to their everyday lives, or because they can, or because they want to. If I am curt about the reasoning, it is because there is nothing baffling about this. There is no uniform reason for cheating – you can cheat once for one reason, and the next time for another reason. In fact, the only matter that is and will be baffling to me is whether Jewish matchmaking by Chassidish Jewry (aka a 3-Date Courtship – a Meet, an Engagement, and You’re Married), which I attribute as a direct cause for cheating, will actually continue to thrive as we get deeper into the 21st century.
Jewish society puts higher marks on a married individual than a single individual even if the marriage is a marriage from hell. And women and men used to give into that mentality and stay in a bad marriage for fear of being branded “divorced” or “someone with past marriage issues” or “a bad catch.” And of course, their kids are branded as well. Now, through cheating discreetly, men and women can remain unstigmatized by those negative labels and still get pleasure from their inherent sexual needs and desires (or even desire to be loved).
And to answer why a woman would want to get involved with a married man, the answer is quite obvious: The married man is coveted by someone – his wife. He has good-enough qualities to deem himself “marriageable material” or “a good catch” or whatever the shadchan term is these days. Since he is indeed a “good catch,” he is a more desirable date than the other men who are not a good catch – or, as Fearful described them, “weird or had something seriously wrong with them.” A married person who is seemingly taken will never be considered “off the market” by single individuals. It is also a “Forbidden Fruit” appeal – women and men want a man or woman who is seemingly “forbidden.”
So, if you want a crisis to deal with, try the Chassidish matchmaker crisis, a direct cause of Chassidish infidelity. (Why be loyal to your husband if you know another man just as well or even better than your husband?)
I highly recommend you publish this letter because eventually your “rug” that you sweep this under will become quite obstreperous. In fact, I venture to guess you are a person who stays behind a computer most of her days, one who is not in the real world, one who does not “see” and “listen” to the streets of NYC and Brooklyn and discern what is really going on. You hear but don’t listen. So therefore I feel you are unqualified to deal with a crisis of the “real world.”
And if you want to ask about my qualifications, I cheat. I’m happily married and I cheat. I’ve started groups that have attracted like-minded cheating individuals. I have met people like me in cafes and restaurants. I speak from experience, I’m educated and I speak bluntly. In fact, perhaps I should be writing a column about dealing with crises in our community because I’ve actually walked the streets of the community.
Reply to follow