Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Fainy Sukenik - A formerly abused ultra-Orthodox woman has started a support network to women seeking divorce

“Every culture has its own fairy tales,” she says. “Haredim have their own, too.”[...]

“Our fairy tales promised me a life that would be simple, beautiful,” she continues, flicking the bangs of her well-coiffed wig away from her face. “One marries young, the wife works while the husband learns Torah, children are born right away, and together they build a ‘Torah home’ with not a single want or flaw.” She pauses.

“So I trusted them. I married at 22, had three children right away, but things were not working out for us ... I heard there were other women whose husbands beat them, but who stayed anyway. But I decided I’m not going to be that woman ... I picked up the phone and called the police. That was the beginning of the end.”

Sukenik was then working at a religious seminary for women in Haifa, a fresh-eyed teacher and mentor for young women, many of whom were engaged to marry. With the news of her separation from her husband spreading, voices began to murmur: How could a woman who calls the police on her husband teach the young girls, serve as an example for the next generation of wives and mothers? How can we let her stay here?

“They wanted to fire me,” Sukenik tells me. “They forgot that Sarah Schenirer, the founder of Bais Yaakov [a network of schools for young religious women, founded a century ago], was divorced, too. Later, when I had more courage, I said to one of the teachers that Sarah Schenirer would be rolling in her grave if she heard them. You’re telling me that a divorced woman cannot teach in Bais Yaakov? How does that make sense?”

Letters were sent to the principal by parents concerned about her questionable influence on their daughters, but Sukenik was able to keep her job. “I told them, ‘I am exactly the kind of woman you need as an example for the girls.’ And I stayed. I would cry all night, but wake up in the morning, force myself to smile, to dress well.”

The change began in the quiet of solitary evenings at home, during the two years of separation and another year of the divorce process. With three small children asleep, Sukenik would spend hours reading divorce advice and online forums, looking for people going through similar experiences. She soon became active on the Facebook page “Haredim Naim L’hakir” (Ultra-Orthodox, Pleased to Meet You) and started blogging for the women’s online magazine Saloona under the name “Separated Haredia.”

“One should never have to deal with this alone, and in our community, no one speaks of divorce,” Sukenik explains. “No one knows how to deal with it. Tragedy, yes, death, yes, but not this. No one speaks with you about important things, no one asks if you need help, people don’t want to even get close to you, as if it’s a contagious disease. You become a pariah, people stop acknowledging you, they stop saying hello in the street. No one asked me, ‘Where are you on Shabbat?’ Now, I understand them, I forgive them. People are afraid.”[...]

Several times she repeats the same familiar mantra: “I was naive, naive, I was so naive.” Sukenik smiles sadly. “I was a young girl, and I truly believed in a perfect Torah world: Torah, justice, straightforwardness, judges! I didn’t realize what I was dealing with ... until all this evil came upon me. I began to understand the real corrupt workings of the beit din [religious court], and all I could think was: Where is the religion? It was a crisis for me: I believe in God, I believe in Torah, but when one sees people acting in an opposite manner, one loses faith.”

The waitress brings out coffee and tiramisu, and places it timidly on our table; Sukenik continues, impassioned: “And I couldn’t speak to anyone, to friends, to my parents – what would I tell them about? About the judges, the courthouse, the rabbis, the humiliations I’m enduring? Why make them suffer more? ” Her voice grows suddenly soft: “What would I tell them: ‘Abba, Ima, this world is corrupt’?”[...]

Based on polls and meetings with other divorcees, Sukenik began to build a network that would offer everything a religious woman needs when going through a divorce: assistance from lawyers, psychologists, family counselors, rabbinic advisors and lobbyists, social workers, as well as a growing, supportive community of other Orthodox divorcees and recently separated women. [...]

With the assistance of the Orthodox-oriented B'Asher Telchi organization, supported by some leading figures in that community and run by religious women, Sukenik hopes a woman will worry less about the stigma that comes with seeking help. She has been working tirelessly to secure rabbinic support for her project. [...]

הכנס שיעצים את הגרושות החרדיות, והגרושות שבדרך

פייני סוקניק ובאשר תלכי יקיימו כנס לגרושות חרדיות ובו יעניקו להם כלים מעצימים ויקיימו סדרת סדנאות והרצאות - כל הפרטים וגם הסבר קצר של סוקניק בעצמה

"הכנס יתחיל בברכות - דיין שיבוא לברך את הנשים - מבחינתי מדובר על אקט חשוב מאד.. סוג של 'אמירה' של בית הדין. יש דבר כזה. והוא מעוגן לחלוטין מכל הבחינות. הרצאה של דבורי וקשטוק - איך הופכים חושך לאור? ואחר כך הנשים תשתתפנה בסדנאות - כל אישה יכולה לבחור שתי סדנאות: אימון אישי לקראת פרק ב', אימון אישי לגלות כוחות נפש, גישור- כללי, תקשורת עם ילדים ומתבגרים, סדנת הגנה עצמית, סדנה של ניהול כלכלי נכון בזמן הגירושין ואחריו, ניהול עסקי - בניית עסק קטן וסדנה לבישול בריא ואורח חיים נכון.

:לאחר מכן - ארוחת צהריים מפנקת, ואז מופע סטאנד אפ של עידית לכטנפלד. לבסוף, הן יוצאות עם מתנה כשהן יודעות להביע את תחושותיהן, להבין את עצמן ולהוציא החוצה, להבין שהיא מתמודדת עם אתגר, ותעביר את המסר לסביבתה - ילדיה ומשפחתה".

פייני - "בכנס ישתתפו עורכות דין וטוענות רבניות, פסיכולוגיות יועצות, עוסיות ומטפלות, שגם הן צריכות לדעת אי להתייחס נכון , וגם הן שותפות מבחינתי לשינוי של מבט קהילתי וחברתי אחר".

"זהו יום עיון מקצועי. לא רחמנות, אומללות והסתתרות. אלא התמודדות וחוזק עם תקווה גדולה. לפרק ב'", אומרת סוקניק, "המגמה היא להוציא שכל אישה תצא מהכנס הזה מחוזקת ומועצמת, תרחש כבוד לעצמה, וכך באופן טבעי גם תקרין לסביבתה. כל אישה שהייתה בכנס תהיה נציגה ושגרירה של המהפך – מצקצוק בלשון, רחמים ופחד, להתמודדות ואתגר, עם לימוד איך מאחדים את המשפחה ה"שבורה", ואיך יש, יש תקנה ובעיקר תקווה".

האירוע יתקיים בנר חמישי של חנוכה, יום חמישי כ"ט בכסליו (29.12.) ב"יד לאישה" – רחוב לייב יפה 51, שכונת ארנונה תלפיות ירושלים.

טלפונים לרישום:

המחיר הוא מאה שקלים. נשים שמתקשות לשלם מתבקשות לציין את זה בטלפון(הבטחה של פייני - אף אחת לא תישאר בחוץ בגלל חוסר יכולת כספית!)


  1. Religious support & approbation will not come in Israel.... perhaps among some Rabbinic leaders in America but not in Israel. With hatzlacha!

  2. Her claims of having been abused are being accepted at face value on any evidential basis?

  3. "Tell me who your friends are, and I will tell you who you are."

    Mrs. Sukenik is one of the poster girls for the New Israel Fund.



    Her association with a left-wing organization that systematically encourages boycotts of Israel, opposes the IDF, and funds a litany of anti-Israel causes, makes me worry...

    Red lines must be drawn when providing legitimacy to organizations engaged
    in undermining Israel from within the Jewish community.

  4. Do you deny that physical abuse occurs at all in the chariedi community?

  5. Where'd you see that?

  6. Because you have a knee-jerk reaction to question, without any cause, the honesty of this woman.

  7. It is halachicly forbidden for you, I or others to believe her accusations against her ex-husband. Since her identity is public, it is known to many readers who her ex is.

  8. While it is forbidden to believe the claims, that does not mean that one must disbelieve them. I have no idea who this particular woman is, or who her ex-husband is either. I neither believe nor disbelieve her claims, as I have no information about them. Your knee-jerk doubting of her claims is not required by halacha either. In particular, if the reaction one has when reading of the purported plight of this women is ""but she hasn't shown me the bruises," that indicates unwarranted skepticism about her plight, and the plight of others in that situation as well.

  9. It is halachaically forbidden to accuse her of lying.

  10. Who accused her of lying? If someone accuses someone else you aren't permitted to believe it.

  11. It was forbidden for her to have publicly made those allegations against her husband in a public platform. His identity is no secret.

  12. why? If she knows directly that they are true - why can't she say such a thing? Child abuse victims are not allowed to present their claims in public? People who have been defrauded are not allow to publicize the information?

  13. You could argue that informing the public who sexually abused children has a toeles so the public can protect their children. That doesn't apply to a wife abuser. A potential future shidduch can be informed what he did, l'toeles, but the entire world who isn't marrying him needn't know and may not be told.

  14. You could argue that informing the public who sexually abused children has a toeles so the public can protect their children. That doesn't apply to a wife abuser. A potential future shidduch can be informed what he did, l'toeles, but the entire world who isn't marrying him needn't know and may not be told.

  15. That is abject nonsense. One of the forms of to'eles that allows lashon hara is לגנות עושי רשעה. One who beats his wife certainly falls under that category. People like you, with a totally distorted understanding of hilchos lashon hara, bring ruin upon klal yisrael.

  16. There is a to'eles of לגנות עושי רשעה.

  17. You're wrong. He isn't married anymore. Even if it *were* true (and you admitted earlier it is forbidden to believe it is true), he certainly isn't doing it anymore. Thus it clearly is forbidden to publicly announce an accusation of something he allegedly used to do but long ago stopped.

  18. Once again, you are incorrect. It is permitted to publicize the actions of sinners so that people will learn not to behave in that manner. The fact that the guy is no longer married and lacks the opportunity to beat his wife does not change anything.
    Once again, I have no idea if the allegations are true are not, but the ex-wife certainly does. If she knows first-hand that he is among the עושי רשעה, then, barring his having done teshuva, it is permitted for her to publicize it.

  19. Even *if* the allegations had been true, he long ago stopped, having not been married to her and not committing anything for at least as long.

  20. You're wrong again. If he hasn't been hurting anyone for a long time, even if it were true that years ago he did it, he is not a sinner or a rasha now and there is no basis around the prohibition of publicizing sins he did many years ago.

  21. Well, we will have to agree to disagree on this one. If he is no longer married, and is therefore lacking the opportunity to engage in that transgression, his status does not just simply change.

  22. Firstly, you don't know that the only reason he stopped (assuming again that it's true in the first place) is because he no longer has the opportunity to sin. He may have stopped sinning based on an active decision of his not to sin anymore.

    Secondly, even if he hasn't sinned in years only due to lack of opportunity, suppose someone used to publicly eat treif everyday bfarhesya. Then he moved to an island where there's only kosher food. And for years thereafter he hasn't eaten treif due to lack of opportunity. Will you still consider him a rasha for eating treif years ago? Will you so publicize now, years later?

  23. If denigrating his actions could prevent others from eating non-kosher food due the the opprobrium that would result from it, perhaps. Although I quibble with the example on several grounds, the primary one being that I view wife-beating as a transgression many orders of magnitude more serious than eating non-kosher food.


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