Sunday, May 31, 2009

Divorce & Chareidi women


She left an encouraging meeting with the matchmaker and waited patiently for her daughters, aged 7 and 6, to finish their art therapy workshop. Aliza (not her real name) is a 27, ultra-Orthodox, and she is sharp, self-confident, with a ready smile. She received her get, or Jewish bill of divorce, a year ago, but she separated years before from the man she had married young and is raising their daughters alone. Like all the women interviewed for this article, she brings her children to the Em Habanim center several times a week, mostly in the afternoon. She recently participated in a series of psychodrama sessions "to increase consciousness in preparation for remarriage," and will soon complete real estate agent training, in preparation for a second, more lucrative career.

On one recent morning her daughter cried all the way to preschool. Aliza overheard the teachers telling each other that there is nothing to be done, that's how it is with girls whose parents are divorced. "Sometimes I feel as fragile as an egg, and yet I must soldier on, be strong, be the mom and the dad," says Aliza. "Shabbat is the hardest. Even though I have a warm family and friends and today there is much more openness toward divorce in Haredi society, nothing can make you get used to the feeling of loneliness on Shabbat."

For Aliza and more than 300 other Haredi women who belong to Em Habanim, the nonprofit organization is more than a recreational center. Some of the families here spend Shabbatot and holidays together under its auspices, and the women operate a social group that continues long past the center's hours and includes Internet forums for divorced Haredi women.

"Coming here is a joy. It doesn't solve my problems, and doesn't increase my child support payments. The main thing here is dealing with things together, and the fact that the staff put their hearts and souls into it. It's a heavy load; it grows much lighter together," Aliza says. During a hallway chat, one of the staffers unthinkingly uttered the phrase "broken home," and it was clear he was referring to family, any family, post-divorce. In Haredi society, and also outside it, this term is still part of learned explanations as to why a boy from a "broken home" will not be admitted to a sought-after educational institution, or why another boy is not excelling in school, and why both are likely, in a few years, to marry women who likewise came from "broken homes." [...]


  1. There is an epidemic in my neighborhood of "orthodox" men leaving their 35-40 year old wives and children for younger Gentile women.

    They are financially well off and supporting Chabad which accepts them and what they have done. They get "married" by "orthodox" Rabbis after they "convert" the non Jew.

    They do not pay child support, even though they are well off. If they do pay child support, it is a pittance because they are self employed and do not show assets.

    The children end up in public school because the mothers cannot pay tuition. And there is no money to make much of Shabbat and Yom Tov. The children go from affluence to poverty overnight.

    The children are forced by the courts to have to have visitation with the intermarried father, whee the father makes them eat the Gentile wife's cooking in order to prove to himself how "kosher" she is. The children often refuse to eat and come home starving after visitation.

    I would estimate that in my neighborhood there are more than 100 women who are religious and alone with 2-7 children.

    Far from being ostracized, these men get their names on Chabad houses everywhere; they are the ones who are helping Chabad take over Orthodox Judaism.

  2. I see you chose not to post my remarks about the reliability of the information regarding this forced divorce. Clearly you are a feminist who doesn'r teally hold of Halocha and a phony like [names delted] etc. you will be sitting next to them le'achar meah ve'esrim. keep away from [name deleted], you have no shaichas to an odom godol.[expletive]


please use either your real name or a pseudonym.