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Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities – 5/14/10

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Dear Rachel,

 

I don’t really know where to begin but I must unburden my heart, and here I know I can do it safely and anonymously.

 

To all eyes, we would appear to be having it all. We live in a quite comfortable home with Baruch Hashem enough room to house our own family as well as guests comfortably.

 

             But what would the casual observer know of what really goes on behind our closed doors (or any closed doors, for that matter)?

 

The economic downturn, or meltdown, has affected many families, so maybe we won’t generate much sympathy on that front. Besides, we don’t look like we’re suffering too badly. Affluent neighborhood, beautiful home, delightful children what would anyone know about our inability to pay our mortgage; our mountain of debt; the weeks we literally have not a dollar in our pocket to buy food with; the numerous times we’ve had to face our teenaged children and tell them that they couldn’t join their friends for a pizza or that they’d have to endure wearing their tattered sneakers for now.

 

My husband is a hard worker, but when the real estate market tanked and banks mercilessly yanked the credit out from under their long-time trusting clients, those who had their funds (and others’) tied up in investments with the hope of garnering decent returns had their money and dreams wiped out virtually overnight.

 

Needless to say, the “investors” who were only too eager to part with their extra cash cry foul and stick their heads in the sand, failing (or refusing) to recognize that an investment is not a loan and that we may be hurting more than most of them – first, because we have been left bereft of a livelihood and with literally nothing to fall back on (while most had invested only some of their spare cash); second, because it is not a pleasant thing, to say the least, to be the object of disdain and, in some cases, outright hatred. (At the same time, it must be said that some “losers” have been very understanding of the unfortunate situation and have, to their credit, not resorted to lashon hara and motzi shem ra.)

 

What else is new, you might be asking. Plenty!

 

You see, Rachel, we – my husband and myself – have always had our doors open. Anyone passing through town has always been welcome in our home, for as long a time as needed. We have a longstanding motto of “mi casa, su casa” – our home is your home. Most of the wayfarers who enjoy our hospitality have no inkling of our dire circumstances; we share whatever we have and somehow get by.

 

A local family had been having serious shalom bayis problems (which entails more than can possibly be said in a letter). In brief, the woman, suffering years of emotional abuse by her spouse, found an ear and an open door with us whenever she had the need.

 

One particular day, this woman showed up at our door in an emotionally distraught state. She had finally had enough of her husband’s mental and verbal assault and had nowhere to go. We quieted her down and settled her in our basement guest quarters.

 

Little did we dream that the safe haven we were offering our needy guest would soon prove to be not so safe – when her husband forced a window open from the outside and barged into her room catching her unawares. We were alerted to the commotion and the poor woman’s screams as she came running up the stairs, her husband in hot pursuit threatening to kill her.

 

             My husband called 911 and we then set about trying to diffuse the situation. Police officers arrived within minutes and the wife made it clear to them that she was unwilling to go with her husband and that she feared for her safety.

 

We, on our part, refused to press charges for breaking and entering (he was a fellow Jew, after all, and we felt that he would have enough on his plate to deal with).

 

As expected, he was booked for threatening his wife. As for her, we summoned her close kin (who live a distance away) and they promptly came to be by her side and to see her through the difficult coming weeks.

 

Of-course there is much more to this story, but the details left unsaid are not relevant to the matter at hand. More to the point, when my husband contacted the Rosh Yeshiva of our boys’ school to relay a message on behalf of this woman regarding her children, he was bombarded with scathing criticism over this whole affair. My husband, a composed individual, was aghast at the personal insults hurled at him from a so-called educator and a highly respected community member.

 

If readers have not guessed it yet, this man (who threatened his wife and broke into our home) has been a generous donor to the yeshiva and so how dare we, my husband and I, cause him all this “trouble and aggravation.”

 

My husband tried to explain things but the Rosh Yeshiva would not let up his blistering attack. Shocked and shaken to the core, my husband finally gave up. Needless to say, our children would no longer attend this yeshiva.

 

The bottom line, Rachel, is that money talks. Whether a person is a mensch or not, whether a donor abuses his wife or not, it’s all about money.

 

Nothing surprises us anymore

* * * * *

We encourage women and men of all ages to send in their personal stories via email to rachel@jewishpress.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.

About the Author: We encourage women and men of all ages to send in their personal stories via email to rachel@jewishpress.com or by mail to Rachel/Chronicles, c/o The Jewish Press, 4915 16th Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y. 11204. 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.


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