Friday, May 04, 2007

Eliana Amit's Letter
No more "religion" for me!
By Eliana Amit

I don't know if I'm the only survivor of child abuse out here who has tried to feel connected to a Jewish community, yet found that they can't.

I keep reading about all the cases that are breaking in the news, hoping that there is at least one community that is accepting of someone like me. I have never felt comfortable going to a synagogue or talking to rabbis. I've tried going to many and I felt totally out of place. I felt like a hypocrite.

I've been told to say this prayer or that prayer. To stand up, to sit down. When I've opened a prayer book I feel like I'm just reading someone else's words.

I'm told if I keep kosher and Shabbat that I will start to feel the connection. I did that for over a year and I felt nothing. I've been told to "fake it until I make it." I'll be honest with you, I never "made it."
Instead I lost myself. I was not being authentic to myself. No one ever stopped to ask me what I found to be healing. No one seemed to care that being true to myself and being open about my thoughts and feelings make me feel whole.

I don't want some frum person calling me on the phone to argue with me that idol worshiping is wrong. I think that those who worship this rebbe or that rebbe is more or less the same as idol worshiper. Why can't Jews think for themselves? Why do they have to consult with their rav prior to doing anything?

I was abused as a child. My healing has always come from being my own person. I worked very hard in therapy to learn to speak my mind. I feel this whole concept of lashon hara is deceptive. I find that it is used to silence survivors of all types of abuses. I'm sick and tired of those who abuse hiding under the guise of religion. I don't think Judaism is really the right way for me to express my spiritual side. Does one really have to have a religion? Can't we all just do our best to get along and be the best person you can be? I say NO to the Judaism everyone keeps trying to shove down my throat.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Eliana,
I felt just like you do. I'm Jewish, but never was connected to anything growing up. When I was twenty I got involved with Chabad while I was aware at college. I thought they were the answer to not really having a family. They only liked me if I did what they wanted me to do. When I started questioning things people started drifting away from me. It was like loosing my family all over again.

I was looking for answers and no one wanted to answer them for me. Maybe they just didn't have the answers.

The best thing I ever did for myself was to move away. I tried other religions but also had trouble connected with the politics of various church's. I finally just gave up with religion. I figured if there really is a God out there that she just wants us to be good people, to be kind, honest, etc.

May 05, 2007 9:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


No person can force you into religion any more. Once you are betrayed and your world was abused in religion and others turned an eye for the gulity. It is hard to return and trust any person in that world ever again.

Many persons hide in the religious world for protection. It is a way for them to live knowing they will not be exposed because of what is called Lashorn Hora. Most persons in the religious world are not learned in the true laws of Lashorn Hora of exposing sexual abuse or mental abuse and or any crimes.

Go at your own space and time be your own leader of when to return if you ever want to. You are still a religious being forever.

Hashem knows you first because you suffered at the hands of a wicked man.

You are not forgotten nor alone in religion.


May 06, 2007 12:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's not the just the wicked man. . . it can also be the wicked woman.

May 06, 2007 9:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

dear eliana, i totally get your point and i totally think that the outside actions of going through the motions of being religious aren't what makes you religious, even if people seem to think that this is so. i think that being a spiritual being--as in, protecting the spirit in all things, you included--is what we are really called to do, and that all the rest is people's ways to try and make frames for what being in touch with spirit really is. only that the ideas--some of which are actually pretty good, like taking care of the weaker in the community, and loving thy friend as you love yourself, and even taking a day off to check in with yourself every week and rest a bit--all took on a life of their own, people's lives, that is. people who changed them from ideas, to ways to control, to details that took over the ideas themselve and by now are just empty shells.

many people who call themselves religous are empty shells spiritually--they go about doing their halachas (jewish laws) with one eye on their neighbor to make sure that the neighbor is not doing it 'better' and to make sure that the neighbor sees how righteous the are. it is sickening. maybe that is why you couldn't get into it--for most religious people it is nothing but going through the motions.

and many rules have been twisted around to protect power, not the people, and definitely not the weaker people, such as children. lashon hara is one such rule that has been twisted. no wonder it is impossible to feel connected to the religios way of life if it preaches out of both sides of its mouth. sometimes the preaching mouth being the same one with the wandering hands...

i say--and i know it for myself--be who YOU need to be, for who YOU believe is right. i say, we all need to be connected to something bigger than ourselves, be it nature, angels, the creator, whatever. but we can make it in the way that works for us. as long as we respect others--and ourselves in it--and as long as we do no harm, i cannot see how we go wrong.
and whem my day comes, if god says to me: "i'm not letting you in because you didn't wear your sleeves below your elbows" or "you didn't scrub the pot with a separate sponge for dairy and parve", then well, i'll probably figure out i'd rather be in whatever other place it is, where the governing body isn't so petty.

for the record, i don't think god is petty, or cares about three vs six hours after meat. i think god cares more about our REAL conduct.

i agree.

May 06, 2007 10:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From Rissa to Eliana and Others

Yes it can be man or woman your abuser can be anyone you trusted and had access to your life or you could have been a random attack many things could have happen. Nevertheless for my case it was two men I knew and who were leaders of our close net ultra orthodox community so I identify with it as Rabbis/Cantor who are men.

Be safe with your self and be trusting of when you want to return if ever no one can force you. For myself I do not want to return.

But I still live inside my home and where ever I may go I am still with Hashem. No abuser can stop that and this is my power over them they can not take Hashem away from me just the community we lived in which is full of false truths just to control the people and abuse goes along with it.

My experence is you can never do enough in that world because it is a way to control and make you feel guilty. Nothing is never good enough that is how they get to abuse you if you are soft and easy trying to please the community.

Please be careful with your soul and heart this is all I can say.

They have taken everything else away in our life but they have no power over our spritual being with Hashem and never will for they are liars living a false shameful life before Hashem.

The sad part is they belive there own lies and even if they belived the truth and said the truth about there abuse it would never happen because they even if once told the truth they would lie there way out of it. Simple and clear they are liars and false.

The truth fact is they are power liars and enjoy destorying peoples lives and love/worship abuse.

You now rule your own life under Hashem. You are your own Rabbi and enything you need to know there is the internet to read if you need an answer.

You are the stong one because you now lead your with power your own way they can no longer have control or power over you because you now stand strong and block that.

May 06, 2007 12:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I am 54 years old, a survivor of sexual and physical abuse at the hands of nuns when I was a child and I am a lapsed Catholic. I am not a religious person anymore specifically because I choose not to be so.

Religion is a cultural artifact. It exists to reinforce the core values of a society using a Supernatural Diety figure or concept as both the motivator for appropriate behavior in that particular society and the ultimate "decider" on who is good and who is bad. In short, it is a social-psychological "good cop/bad cop" sort of dynamic that we either accept or reject. Both acceptance of a god figure and rejection of a god figure carry a heavy price. There is no free lunch.

It is my personal experience that religion works best and most effectively on people who are "mainstream" and have not suffered the extreme horrors of war, sexual abuse, torture, etc. There are of course, exceptions. Many Jews who had survived the concentration camps retained their religious practices. Some did not. It is a personal choice based on your core value system and what you see as necessary for your spirit to grow.

Accepting or rejecting a personal god is not something to be taken lightly. Either way, you are radically changed from your prior spiritual existence. Unfortunately, people like you and I have been pushed to the margins of society because of our experiences with "religion" and "authority". No one other than a survivor is going to understand your situation. It is that personal.

Whatever you decide, good luck. Know one thing, there is no wrong decision here. Follow your heart and choose wisely.

Tom Barnes
Alexandria, VA

May 07, 2007 11:58 AM  

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