web analytics
April 16, 2014 / 16 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Deborah Feldman’

Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities

Wednesday, April 18th, 2012

Reflection, Rebuke and Reverberations…

An open letter to Deborah Feldman

Dearest Deborah,

Today I witnessed a beautiful event. One of my neighbors had yahrtzeit for his mother and got together with all seven of his siblings, some who had come from as far as Israel, not to mention other states in America.

My memory takes me back some years to when I paid a shiva call to this same neighbor upon the loss of his mother. All of her eight children sat shiva together, all shomer Torah and mitzvos, most of them at the time married with children of their own. It was then that my friend had recalled how his mom would come home from work early on Shabbos day, light a cigarette and relax on the couch before getting up to prepare shalosh seudos for them.

Had I heard correctly? I had, my friend assured me. His parents had been non-observant. I was astounded. How had a non-religious couple manage to raise all eight of their children to be shomer Torah u’mitzvos?

Turned out that his mother had been a rebellious girl from Satmar who had gone off the derech. She left home and went to college where she met a secular Israeli whom she wed.

After their marriage, the couple moved to a remote southern town, where they could blend in and be plain American folk. It was after the arrival of their first child that the idea of Jewish identity began to bother my friend’s mother. This concern grew until she persuaded her husband to move to a more “Jewish” city where they could give their children a Jewish education. All eight children received a yeshiva education, half of them going on to Kollel.

Each child would come home expressing a longing for shmiras hamitzvos. Their mother acquiesced to keeping a kosher home, with all that it entailed — on condition that she and their father be counted out. They had no desire to become observant, even as they were willing to facilitate their children’s spiritual journeys.

This woman left her roots just as you did, Deborah. She had her doubts and issues, just like you. The crucial difference between you and her is that she brought holiness into this world — by allowing her beautiful legacy from previous millennia to continue to survive and to shine through her children.

Unlike you, Deborah, she didn’t malign millions of holy women who love their role as Eim b’Yisroel and didn’t sell out their private and tzniusdik way of life for coffee table talk.

Tonight no less than forty-two B’nei Torah will make a seudah for the neshama of their heilige mama — a woman who scorned her roots, yet brought forth fruit.

Deborah, you can be holy too. There’s no escaping your Jewish soul.

 

Dear Rachel,

A dysfunctional, self-absorbed schnook gets up to make fun of our beautiful holy laws and tradition like we’re some backwards people, and Barbara Walters – along with her staff and audience – applauds and cheers. How appalling!

I humbly suggest that BW interview one of the thousands of baalei teshuvah who have abandoned their secular lifestyle, or one of the many frum professionals – yes, chassids among them – who pursue careers in law, medicine, etc., while adhering to the Torah laws.

We can fill not one book but multiple volumes detailing the accomplishments of our own. Let her visit the hospital’s stocked Bikur Cholim room to start with, and in the process she may even run into one of us mothers of large families, who manage to carve time out of our busy schedules to personally distribute fresh home-cooked meals to patients and their visitors — an ongoing daily practice initiated by none other than Satmar.

My heart aches for Deborah and I hope she wakes up before she wastes her life away. Her disadvantaged background serves as no excuse — a person has bechira and is responsible for his or her actions.

A Proud Bas Yisroel

 

Dear Rachel,

As an avid Jewish Press reader for the past fifty years, and a lifetime resident and member of the Williamsburg Satmar community, I feel the need to clarify that despite Deborah’s unstable parentage, her paternal grandparents are wonderful and very intelligent people.

In our warm, caring and close-knit community we help one another out during difficult times, be they happy or G-d forbid sad, be it with money, time or whatever is needed. How ironic that the widely circulated picture of Deborah, alongside her husband and baby, shows her glowing with chein and happiness! Today she may be giving the impression of being happy with her new lifestyle, but on the inside she knows the truth.

I advise people not to take her book for face value — a lot of it must be verified.

Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities

Friday, February 24th, 2012

A Female Member of the Satmar Community in Williamsburg takes Deborah Feldman to task for her allegations in a recent newspaper interview…

She now calls herself Deborah, but I remember her as Suri. We grew up together and attended the same school from fifth through twelfth grade. (She was actually my younger sister’s grade mate, a couple of years my junior.) She came to Satmar when Bais Yaakov of Vien, the most liberal of Williamsburg’s schools for girls, would no longer tolerate her behavioral issues.

Her aunt (whom she refers to as Aunt Chaya in her book and whom she speaks of disparagingly) was the English principal of our school. A highly respected, refined and with-it woman, she vouched for her niece and took upon herself to give Suri the best possible school experience.

Seems like Suri has repaid the kindness in spades. Based solely on her own dysfunctional upbringing (which has undoubtedly stoked her rebellious streak), she has shamelessly sunk so low as to trash an entire community. It boggles the mind… and sadly speaks for itself. What I can say with absolute certainty is that she did not undergo most of what she claims she did, and I would like to counter some of her blatant fabrications.

To begin with, classy and intelligent people do not grant interviews to tabloid papers, unless they are willing to do whatever it takes to get publicity. When I’ll be in a forgiving mood, I’ll be dan l’kaf zchus (give her the benefit of the doubt) that maybe the paper deliberately twisted her words. But something tells me they were her own. After all, sensationalism sells.

Deception: Suri lays it on thick when asked to describe a bathing suit worn in summer camp: “Picture this really shiny nylon fabric and thick, floppy, long sleeves, and pants covered with an extra layer of material to make it look like a skirt.” The real thing: At most, a “chassidish” bathing suit is a short-sleeve dress reaching mid-thigh, made of thin spandex fabric; quite comfortable, in fact, as well as modest.

Fiction: The subject of (sex) relations was a total mystery to Suri and her husband, she alleges. A bright, open-minded and inquisitive girl who managed to hide books under her bed, Suri would have us believe that she skipped the library’s reading material on anatomy and sex? Even the most naïve of Satmar girls are pretty much aware of what awaits them on their wedding night, so spare us the dramatics Suri.

Falsehood: As a longtime Williamsburg resident and a mother myself, I can attest that children transported in cars are properly buckled into their safety seats and that all mothers take their children for regular visits (and then some) to their pediatricians. If Suri was ever seated in the front of a car without a seatbelt and was never taken to a doctor (both of which she asserts), it could well have been the direct result of her dysfunctional home environment (what with a mentally unstable father and an absentee mother).

Distortion: Contrary to her assertion that at seventeen she was deemed to be on the old end of marriageable age, seventeen is, in point of fact, regarded as being on the young end, the norm being eighteen to twenty-one.

Invention 1: “Deborah” divulges that chassidish women are not allowed to eat out. Huh? I challenge anyone to walk down Lee Avenue in Williamsburg at any given time of day or night where eateries are packed with chassidish women. We may not be eating pork or crab cake sandwiches, but we are certainly enjoying the finest in heimishe food and delicacies. (You’ll find many of us eating out at kosher food establishments outside of Williamsburg as well.)

Invention 2: Curfew for women? That’s news to me. In my Satmar Williamsburg world, my friends and I have frequently returned home after midnight (unescorted by our men), and we have yet to be stopped or told that this is inappropriate.

A transcript of an ABC review of Deborah Feldman’s book has just diminished Suri’s credibility to zero in my book. Her claim of being “subtly molested during a cleansing bath – a mikvah – to ensure her purity” is utterly preposterous. No one gets into the mikvah water with a woman during her ritual cleansing. As for “the entire community” being in on her virginal status after failure to consummate her marriage, well, Suri, that sure is news to me. I had no idea!

Newly married couples in communities such as ours are fortunate to have a support system if and when needed, but at the same time a married twosome can just as well opt to maintain their privacy. Presuming Deborah’s grandparents/in-laws displayed over-protectiveness (a weakness on the part of many parents of married children across the globe), it may have been a manifestation of their compassion for a motherless child.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/family/chronicles-of-crises/chronicles-of-crises-in-our-communities-312/2012/02/24/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: