Photo Credit: Jewish Press

Dear Mrs. Bluth,

Regarding your column of July 5 (letter from a marital therapist who took Mrs. Bluth to task over her answer to another letter), you certainly don’t need my defense; you did a great job answering him. However, I feel compelled to respond to J.B. who I can’t believe is actually a marriage counselor, a role that requires objectivity, which he clearly lacks. Apparently, J.B. is a member of the “old boys club,” in which the men stick together and blame the women for every marital issue.

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Once upon a time I volunteered with an organization that helps women with gittin, and I can attest to some of the unbelievable cruelty, both physical and emotional, that took place at the hands of husbands and, unfortunately, at the hands of some batei din. The Jewish Press has been supportive of this issue for years, and the Seruv column (on page 37 of the newspaper) has been influential in the resolution of many a get – as a great number of recalcitrant husbands do not wish to have their names exposed and sullied in print.

A woman once came to my husband for advice. Hers was a terrible story of abuse – she had bruises on her arms and when she went to her rav, he asked her what she had done to provoke her husband. Then he told her to go home and be more subservient; if he hits her once in a while, it’s not so terrible. How would you have handled this J.B.?  Would you have called this husband out as an abuser? Is a man who withholds a get an abuser? Telling a woman that the state of her marriage rests exclusively on her shoulders – that is abuse!

The Rambam in Mishna Torah, in the section dealing with injury to person or property, states that the simple act of raising ones hand to another person, even without actually striking that person, makes the person a rasha, a sinner. Thank G-d we have people who counsel young women to look out for pitfalls and warning signs. I hope that the yeshivas are also speaking to the young men about how they should be treating their wives so they can have happy, peaceful, respectful and loving unions.

J.B. has negated every qualification required to serve as a marriage counselor.

Thank you for listening and wishing you further hatzlacha.

Fay Sladowsky

 

Dear Friend,

Thank you for your kind and encouraging words and for sharing your own ire at the grave injustices suffered by women abused by some batei din after being abused by their husbands. Our denial of abuse emboldens those brutal husbands who operate without fear of reprisal or guilt.

What makes your appraisal and contribution so much more powerful is that anyone recognizing your name knows what a great force both you and your husband have been in the world of injustice! I am in awe of your contribution and hope that I earn the right to your encouragement.

The world has made little progress where the agunah is concerned. Men can still walk into shul on Shabbos, be called up to the Torah, invited and welcomed into homes for kiddush and shown respect and honor, even though they are mesarev to bais din and are withholding a get. They seem to operate with the full support of most of the rabbinic world. They hold their wives hostage in dead marriages by demanding huge sums of buy-out money, all real and monetary property and anything of value, even the full custody of children, so as to make it impossible and unbearable for these women to move forward with any hope of a life.

It may surprise you to learn that I have received a number of letters in support of J.B., from men who benefit from his counsel and support his views. In each of these letters, I am portrayed as a hater of men and a supporter of women – if there was ever such a great backhanded compliment. I accept their critique, yet state unequivocally that I have always been, and will continue to be, an equal opportunist, giving a voice to every man, woman or child who needs a platform to get his or her justified grievances heard. My goal is to enlighten the public on what we need to correct and address in order to become better, kinder and more compassionate, observant Yidden.

Thank you again, Rebbitzen Sladowsky, for your vote of confidence and for giving me the opportunity to remind the klal of the long road we have yet to travel before we can hope to merit the coming of Moshiach.

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