Saturday, September 23, 2006

Happy New Year? by Tali Zahara

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L'Shanah Tovah
© (5767) by Tali Zahara


Happy New Year is what I should be saying, but I can't. I am so angered and sickened by the way our rabbis and community leaders have been handling cases of sexual abuse I don't want to have anything to do with Judaism any more. I can't imagine myself entering my shul to daven.

My rabbi left a message on my voice mail inviting me to come to his home for a meal. A few years ago I would have jumped at the chance. I would have felt so honored. This year I feel completely different. I'm having an extremely difficult time wanting to do anything related to being a Jew. I no longer say my daily prayers. It's very seldom I say bracha's prior to eating or doing anything.

I hate to tell you how many times in the past I went to my rabbi and other rabbis looking for help. I hate to tell you how many times a rabbi told me they did not believe me that I was sexually abused as a child. I'm sick and tired of feeling that our rabbis care more about protecting sex offenders or their own assets then they do about helping those of us who have been sexually victimized. I'm tired of the ignorance. I can't even imagine walking into my shul. I can't imagine davening with people I no longer can connect with. I think I will feel better if I just go camping.

13 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tali,
I can relate to what you are saying 100%. I became observant when I was in my late 20's. I have since left. I felt the same way you are describing. I remember how difficult it was for me make the final decission that the frum lifestyle wasn't right for me.

I know this will sound pretty silly, yet the way I did it was the same way you would break up with a boyfriend you were going out with for a long period of time.

Relationships are comfortable, even relationships that are not healthy for you. It's hard not to return the phone call or to not get together with people you have a long history with.

It's hard to step out of the comfort zone that a haredi community can offer. My problem was that I stopped growing. I mean I stopped being me. I stopped listening to my inner voice. I started to allow others make choices for me. I became very depressed. I started to believe that if I did what they suggested that my childhood memories wouldn't matter.

I'm sure you can understand what I'm trying to say.

Tali, you need to listen to your heart. You need to think for yourself and decide what is the best thing for you.

September 21, 2006 12:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tali,
I grew up in Williamsburg. I left ten years ago for similar reasons. I've only gone back to visit twice.

Listen to your heart!

September 21, 2006 12:13 PM  
Anonymous Hadassah said...

Hi, My name is Hadassah. I'm in recovery from my charedi childhood. I am from a pretty sheltered childhood. Right after high school I went to a trade school. While I was there I was molested by someone who worked in the school.

I grew up in Lakewood, NJ. I really didn't know anything about sex at the time. Right after it happened I called my mother. I was so shamed by her for allowing man to touch me. We haven't spoken since.

After about six months I finally told someone else about what happened. They gave me the number of a rape crisis center. I called and my life really began to turn around. It's been over 5 years since my assault. I switch schools and got a BSW. I'm now working on my MSW. My goal is to help other women who have had similar experiences. Lakewood is not a safe place for children to grow up in. You may be sheltered, which could be good for some, yet if you are ever sexually abused you will become an outcast overnight. It's something no one ever prepared me for.

I no longer consider myself as frum.

btw, Tali - thanks for having the courage to write what you did.

September 21, 2006 12:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi,

While I can sympathize with you over your horrible experience, IMHO I don't think quitting saying brochos over food is the solution. After all shouldn't you still thank Hashem for providing the food for you?
On the larger 'plane' : there is terrible failure of some individuals in your life to live up to the real Torah values. But it does not invalidate G-d or His Torah. And it's up to EACH of us to continue carrying His light in this world in spite of some terrible events in our life. I know it's hard, especially when some people who you've thought were 'G-dly" turned out to be ... fake. It happened in my life as well. What helped: find a real tzaddik, the one that not just preach, but LIVE Yiddishkeit. After all we are toughed that only because of the real tzaddikim the world is still up.
I have a zhus of meeting a woman who spent her formative years in Auschwitz. -She was freed when she was 17. One cannot even imagine what she went through. Now, she is one of the happiest old ladies I've ever met.
and yes, she is still saying her brochos and tfillos and looking foreword to Rosh HaShono.
And she has lots of frum great grand children!

May you have a great experience this year, inscribed for a good life full of Yiddishkeit - in the best sense!
Moshe

September 21, 2006 4:41 PM  
Anonymous Penny said...

Moshe,
I don't think you get it. When everyone around you is a fake and they are the ones who push you to say prayers that have no meaning to you it makes no sense to say them.

From a clinical perspective one might see the prayers as transitional objects. Something given to you to represent goodness. When you learn the person who gave you the present is not what they represent, what does that make those prayers?

It's like when you go out with a guy for awhile. Then you break up. What do you do with all the photographs you have of him? Do you keep them on your nightstand? Do you put them away in a scrap book? Do you tear them up into little peaces and use them to start the next fire in your fireplace?

Being burned by people who are observant and have been your mentors can feel like learning your boyfriend or husband has been cheating on you.

It's obvious from your comment that you don't understand the issues. Thank you for trying though.

September 21, 2006 7:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm reading all of the comments posted here and am so sad.

I'm wondering how can we turn this around? Does anyone have any ideas?

September 21, 2006 10:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is Erev Rosh Hashana and I'm so sad. I want to have a family. I have many friends and neighbors who are going to "be with family" for the holiday's, and when I hear about it the sadness comes welling up and hangs over everything. I try to enjoy the holiday. I have close friends who are like family but it is not the same.
Even if my frum family would talk to me like they used to, (before I refused to promise never to say what happened to me and Rabbi Hopfer told them to cut me off,) I doubt I would feel much better. I still want a relationship with them even though having one is in many ways harder than not...
I know that every time we speak there will be parts of me that have to be compartmentalized and hidden away for their own protection. Parts that my parents and siblings have never been able to accept or allow to exist. Parts that I have now embraced and nurtured and helped to heal... in spite of my family.
These are the parts of me that suffered when I was a child. The parts that I pushed into a back room were they lived in terrible pain, hideing in back rooms of my mind cowering in a black hole. There they waited for a big strong man to come and hurt them and shame them and then act like nothing happened while they lay bleeding in the darkness. Knowing it was going to happen again...because it always did, and not knowing how to stop it. Wanting to die. Wanting to go back to Hashem and be safe...except that Hshem would not keep me safe and would probably want to touch and shame my body too...(Hashem is a "He" after all and isn't that what men do? Especiall men who are supposed to be like a father?) How can I daven to Hashem as a father on Rosh Hashana? It makes me angry. Killing myself was not even safe. I Wanted not to exist... There was no escape.
As much as I love and miss my family
It is hard to think of facing their denial and their self rightous rejection of me and my pain. After all from their perspective I am a terrible sinner. I have gone against "Daas Torah!!" I have rejected the authority of their Rav, and the authority of any other Rabbi who has not educated themselves about this pressing issue.
"How convenient" they say. You won't listen to anyone unless they believe you. Well...if you know something happened to you, something awful and shameful like your father molesting you, and a Rabbi won't believe you, would you listen to them?? I hope not.
This is a hard day for me and, I imagine, for all Jewish Survivors.
Eigrau's Daughter.

September 22, 2006 7:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Eisgrau's Daughter,
I feel very much the same way you do. I have not seen my family for many years.

I am not frum. I did not group up religious. I am a Jew though.

When I was 13 I became pregnant by my father. A friend of the family did the abortion. No questions asked.

When I was 15 I tried to kill myself. It didn't work. I tried many times after that, failing each and every time. I finally quit trying.

It was me I wanted to kill. I was the memories, the flashbacks, the denial of not only my family but the community I lived in.

This time of year is horrible. I tried for a long time to forget it was the high holidays. I would purposely plan vacations and go to exotic places. But I still knew deep down what time of year it was.

Now I just do what I can to get by. I don't go to shul, I don't go to anyone's home for meals. I just try to figure out for myself what it is that I need to do.

My family is loved by many. They are of course pilars of their community. I am seen as their troubled child. An outcast.

There are usually no witnesses when a child is being molested. It is often his or her word against the parents.

I am seen as a liar. I am seen as being mentally ill.

In my new world I am as seen as mother, wife, survivor and attorney.

I wish everyone who is a survivor of childhood sexual abuse all the health, happiness and healing that is needed in the years to come.

September 22, 2006 12:39 PM  
Anonymous miriam said...

I though I didn't believe in G-d. HOW COULD G-d allow these things to happen to little children. I was a baby I could not of caused my father to do what he did to me night after night.
I grew up and tried to live life with my secret buried deep inside. I became frum. It was a safe world the men and women were separate. They were warm and accepting. Everyone makes mistakes and can do Teshuva.
I liked the idea of a personal G-d who is interested in everything we do, say, think, eat, and dress.G-d is our father our King our protector. But i no longer believe that. Hashem (G-d) allowed those things to happen to me. He still allows those horrible things to happen to children. I don,t want to crown as my king something that can't or won't protect little children.
I teach children that it is important to say a Bracha to thank Hashem. That he listens and helps and cares about us. I don't blame
him for what my father did but how can Hashem allow that to happen. I have children living in Israel. When my non frum family asks how do I let them go my answer is When it is their time to die they will no matter where they are. When a person is meant to die they will, weather in a war or crossing the street at home.
I think I am begining to see that I do believe in Hashem. I am so angry at G-d. I don't want to talk to him (Davon)and I certainly don't want to crown him my king. He still doesn't protect the children.

September 23, 2006 12:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why can't people listen. I was invited to various peoples homes for meals today and tomorrow. I kept telling everyone I already had plans, but thank you anyway.

I just don't want to deal with the holidays. I want it to be a day for myself.

A few of my friends know that I am planning on spending the day shopping or doing things I would do on any other day of the week. The goal is not to think about it being Rosh Hashanah.

Last night and today they have been calling to check in with me. They are acting like I'm depressed. I'm not. I chose not to do the holiday. They are making it impossible to go about my day. I finally turned the ringer off on my phones.

I know they call out of love, yet I'm getting angry.

September 23, 2006 9:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Was just talking to a friend of mine who is also Jewish, who also just ignores today.

It's great there's people out there who are ignoring today.

September 23, 2006 12:09 PM  
Anonymous mara said...

Just a few more hours to go and Rosh Hashanah will be over. I spent the day at a mall miles away from home. I live in a Jewish community. There was no way I could stay here today. I was doing great until I got back close to home. I should have stayed away longer. On the way back I saw people doing tashlich (throwing their sins away in a river). I got so angry at them. I kept thinking what hypocrites they were. They really believe they can throw away their sins of molesting their children? Or their friends children? Do they really believe they can throw away their sins of standing idly by doing nothing when they suspect a child is being abused?

What about all the rabbis who help to cover up these crimes? Do they think they can just toss their sins away too? Hypocrites. That's what they all are.

September 24, 2006 4:27 PM  
Anonymous Mara said...

I just found this list. I was wondering what kind of bread does a child molester throw into the river? or what about a rabbi?

"Occasionally people ask what kind of breadcrumbs should be thrown," the e-mail reads. "Here are some suggestion for breads, which may be most appropriate for specific sins and misbehaviors:

For ordinary sins..................White Bread

For complex sins..................Multigrain

For twisted sins.........................Pretzels

For sins of indecision...................Waffles

For sins committed in haste......Matzah

For sins of chutzpah..............Fresh Bread

For substance abuse......Stoned Wheat..."

September 24, 2006 4:31 PM  

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