Sunday, July 30, 2006

Dear Family - By Eliezer Eisgrau's Daughter

Principal of the Torah Institute of Baltimore
Dear Family,

You have all turned your backs and walked away from me. My father, my mother, and eleven siblings. All gone.

This reality is very sad. It is disturbing, and incomprehensible all at the same time.

What is the terrible crime I committed that warranted the loss of my entire family? What could cause parents to abandon a child? Siblings to abandon a sister? And a community to collectively turn its back in silence?

I committed a terrible crime. My unforgivable crime is that I spoke the truth about my childhood.

I could no longer keep secret the years of fear and pain. The molestation by my father, and the emotional abuse and neglect of both my parents...

I did try hard to keep it in the family as I had been taught to. I tried so hard to be the daughter you wanted me to be. To be "good" To let it go, and just forget, and somehow be OK... But I was in too much pain. I knew I couldn't continue without help.

I came to you first, remember? But you made it clear that you did not believe that I was really hurt. You made it clear that you would not, and could not, believe me that Tatty molested me nor could you support me. You denied that I had a reason to be in so much pain. I had to go elsewhere for help.

Going outside the family for help and support is a major sin. The louder you shouted that it just wasn't true, that Tatty could never do such a thing, that nothing really happened to me, the louder I had to shout to hear myself over the clamor of your thirteen desperate voices.

Oh, if only It were true, as you say, that a therapist somehow convinced me that the memories are true!!! I would sue the therapist and have my family back!

If only it were true, as you say, that the books I read on the subject of abuse are what put these horrible ideas into my head!! I would burn the books and have my family back!!

If only I were truly sick, or truly mental!! I would then pose no threat and I could have my family back!! Oh, if only I were truly evil and out to "get" my father! But I still love my father in spite of myself. I don't believe that my father is an evil monster. He has caused a lot of pain and refuses to take any responsibility for his actions. He is a human being who has done much good and also much bad. He has a serious problem and I wish he would get help.

Unfortunately It is true that I was sexually molested and abused in our family. If I am real than this did happen. I am a product of YOUR family. Thankfully, there were others who heard and I got the help I needed. I survived and I am doing well! To my siblings and my fathers supporters I say I am none of the things you accuse me of. I am just a women. I have my strengths and limitations just like you. I am a wife, a mother, a teacher, a friend, and neighbor just like you. I play with my children, hug them, kiss them and love them, just like you do. I laugh and cry and feel as deeply as you do. I have a life that is rich and joyful and completely separate from my past, as I hope that you do too. And I have many close friends who truly know and appreciate me for who I am...and know nothing of my past.

But there is no substitute for my family. I miss you. In spite of your denial of my experiences. In spite of your blame and accusations. In spite of you saying that your childhood was idyllic and wonderful...and therefore mine was too. I am truly happy for you that this was your experience and I can not take it away from you. I can only envy you. My childhood also had wonderful moments and happy memories, yet the good memories are overshadowed by pain, sadness, and fear. I wish there was a way you could accept our different experiences, and reconcile.

Perhaps there are those of you who would like to be in touch with me and believe that you can't because Rabbi Hopfer advised you to cut me out of the family. It would be going against "Daas Torah" to speak with me. I am so sorry for your pain. I am so sorry for us that you have chosen a rav who apparently believes that you have more to gain by breaking up our family than by encouraging its healing. Any thinking, intelligent person can see that Rabbi Hopfer's cruel advice, which hides behind the guise of "Daas Torah," sadly, has nothing to do with either.

Tatty, I miss you too.

You have hurt me terribly and I can't fully comprehend what you did to me. I understand why the people who have trusted you do not want to believe me. It is just too overwhelming. I also do not want to believe...I still want to believe that I am wrong. I still want to believe that I have a father who is safe. You loved me and hurt me. You gave me life, and you almost killed me. You will always be the only father I have. I will always need you.

Mommy, I think I do understand why you walked away... You made it clear from the time I was young that Tatty was much more important to you than I was. I believe that on some level you know that my memories of him are true. I believe that you needed him, and still need him more than you ever needed me. You have not been able to let yourself truly see me from the time I was very little. And that hurts. Because I needed you desperately. You are my mother and I needed your protection. I will always need you.

I am a women who was terribly abused as a child. I deal with this reality every day of my life. And because I did not keep the secret, I am now a women without parents or siblings.
With tears and always... hope for the future,

Eisgrau's Daughter.

Note: the president of the board of the Torah Institute is Hillel Tendler, brother of Mordecai Tendler and Aron Tendler.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Has E's daughter written this letter recently? If yes, What has provoked the new letter?

July 30, 2006 9:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I want to start off by thanking "E's" daughter for writing from her heart. I definately can relate to your words.

To the anonymous poster,
Does it matter if it was recent or an old letter? What I think is most important is that she is writing from her heart and her words could have come from a number of us who no longer communicate with our families, either by choice or due to the dysfunction in the family.

I don't know what's worst being excommunicated or having a parent die?

I sort of think being excommunicated is worst because every day you live with the possibility that maybe some day things will be different. If your parents passed away you know that can't happen, and you don't have to live your life with false hopes.

July 30, 2006 9:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I believe your story and many others do as well. You are an inspiration to many. We feel bad that you had to suffer so much. It must have been extremely difficult for you to come forward with the truth. Pay no attention to those weho attack you, to the SHEEP that think that no Rabbi can do wrong. Your former community is blind and naive. I am very sorry that you were dealt this horrible hand, but I admire you and your ability to overcome it all and procced to live a normal life.

July 30, 2006 9:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are better off without them and you are a better person. Thank you for speaking from the heart.

July 30, 2006 9:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We all feel for you. I am not sure whether you feel comfortable responding on this blog, but can you tell us what you know about the connection between Shmuel Juravel and you father?

July 30, 2006 9:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you "E's" daughter!

I hope you write a book about your life. I think it would be so healing for you and inspiring for others.

July 30, 2006 9:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not Eisgrau's daughter. Everyone knows that Shmuel was "one of Eisgrau's special projects".

Why don't you call Eisgrau on the phone and ask him about it. I don't think you should be bothering Eisgrau's daughter with that. I think she's got enough on her plate already.

July 30, 2006 10:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for speaking out from your heart. For every one of us who speak out there are plenty more who can't. It is hard to lose your family anytime but to have them turn you out is terrible. I am glad you have good friends who care.

July 30, 2006 10:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I also struggle like you do. I have a bunch of very loving and dear friends, yet my heart still aches for my parents and siblings.

I had to seperate from everyone because of how toxic it got. I used to feel suicidal all the time, especially after communicating with family members. Since I moved away I hardly ever feel the way I used to.

I still have this fantasy family, which I know they will never be. I mourn that loss on many shabbats and when other people have family get togethers.

It's hard to admit that I mourn what will never be.

July 30, 2006 10:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a heart rending letter.

I hope and pray Hashem will send her the peace and strength she deserves. She has my admiration for speaking out.

July 31, 2006 12:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Eisgrau's Daughter,
What can we do to help?

Would it help if everyone called your brother's, sisters, mother and other relatives and tell them they are wrong and they need to do tshuva?

If you read this please let us know what we could do to help. I don't want to just sit here and tell you I'm sorry for what they did to you, I want to do some thing to make it better!

July 31, 2006 7:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Thank you to all of you for your kind words, support, and validation. Each time I am truly heard it helps heal a small piece of the pain of being silenced and invisible for so many years.

I remember my father trying to help Shmuel Zev Juravel when he was a young teen. If I remember correctly (I'm pretty sure that this was Juravel, if not it was another one of my fathers "cases") He was clashing with his parents at home and rebeling by refusing to eat fish on Shabbos (Something his parents considered a Mitzvah). I Remember my father trying to convince him to "Just eat the fish to make your mother happy." From what I have seen of my fathers work with troubled kids, he does not (know how to) address or deal with the underlying (real) issues, and his focus has been on making parents happy by 'rescuing' their wayward young and setting them back on the 'right track' ( usually meaning,doing what the parents want).
About 10 years ago, I was single and not religious, and Juravel called me up one day out of the blue. He and a friend were crusing around and wanted to know if they could drop by.
I had no relationship with him other than our families being close friends forever.
Having a hunch that he and I likely had something in common, I said yes. I was not living alone and made that clear to him on the phone.
The two guys came over and we sat and shot the breeze a bit and then sat in silence. He looked at me and I looked at him and neither of us was going to come out and ask our questions. They ended up leaving, and to this day I don't know why he came. My questions were "So how did my father help you?" Did he hurt you too?" "What do you want from me?" I didn't ask because I was afraid that my father had sent him.
Don't know if this helps, but that's all I know.

August 01, 2006 3:29 AM  

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