This is a podcast I did a few months ago. I’d love you to listen to this and get an insight into the mind of a more mature woman who leaves the Hasidic Jewish Community and Judaism.
This was difficult to do. I had to open up about things that are tough to talk about. However I needed to speak out.
I was grateful to be given the opportunity to talk about my own experiences in the hope that it will help people understand what we go through when leaving. I also hope it gives people clarity as to what they want to do with their lives.
I tried posting the actual video here but sadly because it’s 25 mins it didn’t let me do it so I’ve uploaded it on YouTube. Here’s the link to listen to my part.
This may not seem like a big deal to many people. However for women trapped in relationships with a man who refuses to allow her to be free, this is a real moment to celebrate what’s being said here.
I know of women who are separated from their ex husbands for decades and because they are religious they cannot marry again – should they want to.
Being a “Chained woman” for so many years to someone who out of pure wickedness refuses to give his estranged wife a Gett is why this is so important. It is absolutely a form of domestic abuse and coercive control despite them no longer living together.
“This week a review into controlling or coercive behaviour conducted as part of the Domestic Abuse Bill, which enters its report stage next week, was published. It clarified that someone can be a victim of coercive behaviour even if the couple no longer live together.”
“CEO of Jewish Women’s Aid Naomi Dickson said she is “so pleased” this kind of abuse is being acknowledged. “Domestic abuse does not end when a woman manages to leave the home she shares with her perpetrator. Within the Jewish community, post-separation abuse can include get refusal, when a couple are still married in the eyes of Jewish law,” she said.”
“She told the House of Commons yesterday: “The researchers said the reasons behind this high rate of infection are not yet known.
“Strictly Orthodox families have significantly larger households than the UK average. They also live in areas of increased population density and, in pre-pandemic times, had regular attendance at communal events and gatherings.
“The reason why I use them as an example is that this is why it’s wrong for us to mix together lots of different groups.
“Ms Coburn asked: “Benjamin, isn’t there a wider point that actually perhaps the fact that Angela Rayner didn’t immediately recognise previous Jewish political leaders in her tweet underlines the fact that many Jews have succeeded in reaching high political office, and therefore don’t need to be seen as a group needing recognition in the same way as others?”
He replied: “We face antisemitism and racism very clearly. We’ve just seen that with the many years of racism and antisemitism within the Labour party.
“So to suggest that Jews don’t face racism, and therefore we’ve reached such a high office that we’re not an ethnic minority is frankly ridiculous.
“Frankly the notion of this debate is ridiculous.”
“Women’s lives are closely controlled. One woman told me. ‘If people saw me driving, I’d get a phone call from the headmaster of my children’s schools. I was told that I’d be turned into an outcast.”
That exact thing happened to me! When I finally passed my driving test and was part of the Hasidic Jewish Community my ex husband got a call from the headmaster of my sons’ cheder (Hasidic school).
He told him that if his wife (ie me!!) drives my sons to school or collects them at the end of the day I was forbidden from going anywhere near the school. I had to stop around the corner so I wouldn’t be seen.
For them it was an embarrassment and a disgrace that a mother would drive. And from what I can recall I was the only mother who drove from that sect! So yes I did do exactly that! I would park around the corner.
ITV News just prior to Purim discussing the fact that StamfordHill has one of the highest rates Covid19 cases in the world. Not in England. Not in the U.K.But the WORLD!! Frightening statistics.
I know that this year was very different. The hasidic community took Coronavirus seriously and huge changes were enforced. The entire area was heavily patrolled by the Police and people not partying or attending synagogues.
This is Chaya Spitz, a representative from the Stamford Hill Hasidic Jewish Community. She was brought onto BBC Women’s Hour to put their perspective regarding the issue of forced marriage.
I understand it’s uncomfortable to face the truth and the reality that this practice has been going on forever. If a teenager has no sex education, no information about what marriage entails…
When they have siblings a year younger waiting their turn to get married…. when everyone around them is getting engaged… when the expectation is to get married at 18 or 19 then where is the consent?
Regardless of what her family are like, that wasn’t what she was being asked. We need to stick to facts. Not one off anecdotes. It’s hard when “societal norms” around you are such that at 20 you’re considered an “old maid” if you’re unmarried.
It’s hard to grasp that what you think is okay and normal is far from okay or normal if that’s all you know and all you see. But when you’re given facts and figures and are telling listeners that what being said isn’t the truth, that’s hard to deal with.
Once again I have found myself getting frustrated and upset that my lived experiences count for nothing. Mine and thousands of women and men like myself. We are not just a few angry bitter people who’ve left.
We are not doing this because we are “in pain” as she says. The reason why the documents were put together is because we don’t want boys and girls to have to go through forced marriages.
I reiterate – forced marriage doesn’t have to be physical. It’s about coercion and manipulation and what is expected of you and your family and community. You have no ability to say no. You don’t even know about consent.
Please don’t invalidate my experiences. Please stop saying we are a few bitter people. We care and want this practice to stop. However pretty you think your family is, they had no option other than to get married.
What would happen if one of her kids said they were gay? What if they wanted to become a lawyer or doctor? Could they go to university? What about not feeling maternal and not wanting to get married?
If those things aren’t taken into consideration then please don’t tell me they know what they’re getting into and are fully consenting to it all. No they’re not. They say yes because at that point in their life they know no different.
“The choice of the young people in this process is paramount. The suggestion that somehow a truncated shidduch process equates to coercion is disgusting.”
I’ll tell you wants “disgusting”, Chaya Spitz
Lying about what goes on. Lying that what myself and others have been through is not the norm. Blatantly lying about the shidduch (matchmaking) process. This woman knows damn well how it all works and is not being honest about it.
I totally understand that she finds it difficult to hear people refer to what goes on in hasidic communities as “forced marriage”. Of course it’s shocking to her.
If everything you have ever known and you own norm is challenged it’s hard to see clearly and to agree with it. She doesn’t know any different.
To be clear, forced marriage is not only physical force. It is also manipulation, coercion and family or community pressures to marry someone.
“The UK government website clarifies what is meant by coercion:
• You have the right to choose who you marry, when you marry or if you marry at all.
• Forced marriage is when you face physical pressure to marry (for example, threats, physical violence or sexual violence) or emotional and psychological pressure (e.g. if you’re made to feel like you’re bringing shame on your family).”
Teenage girls and boys in Stamford Hill do NOT have a choice about marriage. They cannot say they don’t want to get married. They cannot say they’re not ready when they have several younger siblings waiting their turn.
Forced marriage absolutely and categorically is what happens in the Hasidic Jewish Communities in Stamford Hil, London.
For anyone to invalidate the experiences of thousands of people is “disgusting”. To refer to us as a few bitter people whose lived experiences were “abnormal and what shouldn’t happen” is painful to hear.
I get that she has to put forward a certain narrative. That’s what she’s told to do. But to blatantly ignore what’s being said and to say things that are not true makes me so frustrated and upset.
Why can’t you be honest about your way of making your 18 and 19 year olds get married?