dinsdag, november 07, 2006


My friend...


is one person I admire. She's not beautiful, far from that. She's not super-intelligent, far from that. She's not adorable or overfriendly, far from that....

but she's got survivor's instincts.

She was born and raised in a religious family somewhere here in Israel. She got married to a religious man from her own environment as being streamed into such marriage, since in those circles that's the path to take.

But then, after having 4 children and feeling more and more suffocated - she made a decision. Divorce.

She left the house with nothing. No job, no money, not even her share of the house's value, since she left that for her kids - so they wouldn't have to undergo extra changes and get them even more upset if they'd have to move.

She left Nethanya - got herself a job and rented worn-down, very depressing flats in Tel-Aviv - one after the other since every time a new obstacle arose and she had to leave. I visited some of those flats and felt gloomy...

Then, since she did want to 'live' she started participating in trips for singles. In those 3 years I've seen her going from hope to (almost) tears (she never cries). "It is suuuuuuuch a nice guy... soooo sweet." And then: they found themselves other girl-friends.

Her last boy-friend left her because her money ran out. She'd taken loans just to survive and participating on trips around the country -with him. Soon as she told him she couldn't afford it anymore, he dumped her.

Now she's taken up 3 jobs to start re-paying those loans, that she took in the first place to get rid of the overdraft and the bank was very pleased to supply her (grrrrr).

She's working from 07:00 am to 23:00 pm and when I asked her if it wasn't difficult she said "of course, but that's what there is". I asked her if, with all the problems and while not loving her husband that time she was satisfied with the present situation rather then enjoy the 'good life' under those terms, if it was worth it.... She replied without one moment's hesitance: "I'm free, of course I prefer this".

It is extremely difficult to unchain yourself outta the religious community -especially when you're born into it. It must have broken her heart to leave her children (no way a divorced woman gets custody of her kids if her husband is religous here). It for sure has landed her in the most depressing flats to live in since then. It got her in financial debt. She's still single, no boy-friend. She sees her children once in 2 weeks at her mother's place where her husband allows their children to see their mother while she puts on her headscarf and 'decent' clothing (meaning all-covered-up clothes from toe till chin).

All this and I keep thinking:


but I admire her for controlling her feelings. I would have broken down completely already, I know for sure....


It is extremely difficult to unchain yourself outta the religious community -especially when you're born into it.


interesting ...

Over the last few years i ve been watching an opposite process - one of my friends has been chaining himself into the religious community with an unexplicable enthusiasm. And by the way one of his explanations was that it gave him internal freedom!!
I know, Nobody. My daughter has done the same. But the opposite direction from within to the outside seems to be extremely difficult. They (they religious communities) even seem to be sitting shiva on their children when they step outta faith....
Frankly i was close to seating shiva on this guy because he was a close friend of mine. Maybe not seating shiva but giving up on him completely. In two years after he started, his fundamentalism reached its peak when he was all about Kahana Hai politically and "everything that not Judaism is satanism" spiritually. I rememeber our endless arguments. I am myself a very confrontational and stubborn person and we argued endlessly until we split.

He though mellowed very much later and we restored our relationship and surprisingly some of his general arguments has become later my own views, like the necesity to practice self restraint in life, self discipline... a sort of mild ascetism. But I never accepted the religious part and never saw any need in this. There is something in Judaism that I never could stomach.
I don't know that much about Judaism since I'm a convert and brought up without religion and the understanding that religion is the work of man wanting to drill large communities of people. My father came from a heavily religious catholic family and that's what gave him those ideas. Which is a pity, because he threw out Believe with religion, mixed them up - probably. And, I found out I'm a Believer. But this distance from religion (any religion actually) is in my blood - and with my husband and daughter becoming more and more religious all the time you can imagine I'm not in a comfortable position right now. I am of the opinion that in every religion you have the choice of two paths: either the good (peaceful, humane) of the bad (egocentric, concentrating only to the benefit of the specific religion and nobody else).

I've read aish and like it. I read the weekly parasha at ynet and I like it. I read the things fanatics like kahana or other hilltop rabaniem write and I simply hate it thoroughly.

You had a friend that became religious and I have a home that's becoming religious.... without me. And, although we started out with the best of intentions and planning it somehow turns out to be impossible.
I don't know much too as I am from 'russian' community and secular 'russians' are usually ferociouly anti religious. At least people i know ..

But I had been living in Jerusalem for many years and so i always had something to ask if I had questions. But I didn't like many answers though I admit - Judaism has a great intelectual beauty. You can really see that it's a Jewish religion ;)

I have a post about Beit Hanun on my blog if you find this subject interesting
This sounds like the books "The Awakening" by Kate Chopin and "A Doll's House" by Isbin. Have you read either of them? If not, I highly recommend them. They are about the liberation of women from their respective domestic prisons.
What is seating shiva?
Cedar, I think it's akin to a wake, where you spend several days (usually a week) mourning for the recently deceased.

I don't know how this would work in the Jewish community (especially with relation to kids) exactly, but I can give you some insight as to how it worked with me (and my Methodist upbringing).

It involves quite a bit of guilt, just a tad of familial rejection, the thinly veiled references to religion and being part of a community of believers, bringing up faith at the dinner table, having the Pastor come to dinner on a whim.

Essentially, you do what is necessary to recapture that lost soul, including applying as much communal pressure as is possible in any particular situation.

On a side note, it's good to see you posting again Tsedek. :-D
Am also impressed with Hanna, tell her there is some one out there who prays for her to get what she wants, I love my freedom and would never sacrifice it for a man, H have religious societies in being so negative and suppressive to self esteem!!!

Sarah Matar
Saudi Arabia

All my respect for Hana, true, freedom is priceless and it's never easy to give up things and mainly people to get there especially when you grow up having religion infiltrated in every aspect of your life. And by that I mean freedom even from the religious ties, ties as in the practicality and implementation of the religious beliefs ... I am a believer in the spiritual meaning of the world while doubting very much the methods religious institutions imposed with time.

On another note, thank you for always visiting my blog :-)
word not world.
Thanks for the lovely comments here :) I will most certainly convey all positive messages to Hana.

Drewcatt, you described it exactly: a shiva is a kinda wake after someone dies for one week. So, in principle, that member of the family that left faith is a soul that has been lost. And yes, it happens towards someone's own children as well, in very religious families. Unfortunately.
Thanks Drewcatt and Tse.
And I echo Drewcatt nice to you back online Tse :)
There is an organization here in Israel that help people leave the Haredi community. Their site is:

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