Monday, December 28, 2009

Sarah Einfeld - A former Gerrer Chassidiya


About a year and a half ago, the 25 - year - old Sarah Einfeld left the Gerrer (Gur) community in Ashdod (Israel). Sarah was born into Gur but at the age of 15, she started reading all kinds of different "secular" novels. She realized that there is a world beyond the world she grew up. A world of the Gerrer girl's school "Beit Yaakov" where she was taught that anything one does wrong, he will be punished for. Either by G - d or the community itself. When a Gerrer Chassid does not function, his children are being thrown out of school etc.

This behaviour, however, is very common among any direction in Jewish Orthodoxy. Maybe less severe in the national religious community but already much stricter in the litvish - haredishe community. A TV set, slightly immodest clothes, secular literature or a movie can already ruin a Yeshiva career or a Shidduch.

The opinions about Sarah Einfeld are split. Many Israelis say that she did the right step when she left Gur. Other say that she, at least, should have remained some kind of modern - Orthodox, Chabad or even litvish instead of running over to the secular, eat on Yom Kippur and travel on Shabbat. I personally see Sarah still in a continuous state of rebellion and it will take her quite a while to get over it. From my personal experience I know that it is not a good idea dreaming about freedom and escape but, at the same time, running over into another frum direction. First of all, you have to get a clear mind and this does not happen when you just jump from one frum life to the next !

For the time being, she wants to enjoy her freedom and catch up all the time she has lost while being a Gerrer Chassidia. Of course, she is looking for revenge but, in the end, she will hopefully finally realize that she is actually hurting herself as well as her soul.

Two days ago, a haredi journalist from the state - owned Israeli radio "Kol Israel" told me that Sarah Einfeld was a "wacko". A nutcase just looking for attention. "If you don't like your chassidic group, okay, so leave and have a nice life. But start your own life and don't act like Sarah Einfeld who is always coming back to the same subject all over again: Chassidut Gur and how much she suffered", so the journalist.

He is not alone with his opinion. Just the opposite because many men react the same way. They see Sarah as someone looking for attention and only using the public because she is bored. She must have deeper problems and maybe Chassidut Gur is right in not referring to her.
According to her own words, she hasn't spoken to her parents since she left Ashdod more than a year ago.

In a newspaper article from October 2009 (Yediot Acharonot), Sarah stated that she always asked herself why her uncles would not even look at her. No one answered her questions and finally she found out that those are the modesty rules of the group. One day, at the age of 18, she came home from school and her mother told her that they found a Shidduch for her. She spoke to this Chassid for two hours and the next time she saw him was under the Chuppah.

In her blog, she quotes some women who said that their wedding night was nothing but "rape". Chassidut Gur has wild sex Takanot and, among others, men and women only uncover the "necessary" body parts (according to Sarah's blog).
Basically you are going into bed with a person you do not even know. Here, she emphasizes, that it is the same (bad) experience for a man and a woman.

"It was a total rape. I felt dirty and I wanted to push him down from my body", this is what many women had told her. Eventually she left the group and now lives with her two children in Ramat Gan (between Tel Aviv and Bnei Brak). In the video below a short clip from her documentary "Soreret" is shown where she explains her 6 - year - old daughter why she cannot see her grandmother. "Because your grandmother does not agree with things I do and therefore she is angry", Sarah explains.

Sarah states that she did not leave Gur because she hates the group; neither does she feel any hatred towards her ex - husband. She left because she did not feel that she could lead a life according to her dreams about freedom in Gur. There, everything is determined and so - called "Madrichim - Guides" even watch over everyone's sex lives.
The TV journalist in the below video asked her how she is getting along in the secular world ? Is it not very hard to live exactly the opposite way now ?
Sarah answered that, of course, it is hard. There are many things and ideologies in the secular world she would never do, agree with and she even tries to keep away from them.

As a matter of fact, there is no perfect society in this world. Each one has its problems and has to cope with them. I read many many responses in haredi forums such as "Hyde Park" or others. The main response there was that Sarah is a kind of nuts and should keep quiet and move on in her life. She is crazy and always was. Others feel pity on her; especially women. Various haredi women like her because she dared to break out of society. Others are too afraid and already have four, five or more children. Where should they go ?

One comment on one of Sarah's blog postings asks how people can help her (Sarah).
How ? Sarah asks back. By not forcing their daughters into the same kind of life when the haredi mothers already hate theirs. Not giving a quick Shidduch to the daughter, letting her go through the same sexual experiences when they (the mothers) already cried out silently during their wedding night. This is the main issue: When countless haredi women hate their lives and society pressure, why do they force the same life upon their daughters ?

I do not know what to think about Sarah ? There are so many different opinions and some family friends even yell that she should be grateful to her parents who even paid for her higher computer education. Who else would do that in Gur ?

I read most of her blog postings and do believe that she is honest. It is obvious that she suffered a lot even when she claims that her husband was a good guy. Is it not in the nature of many men that, as soon as an independent woman shows up, they cannot stand her ? The same with Sarah. At least, this is what I noticed with many male comments.

However, I do agree with that she should go on in life and not only get stuck in her former Gur past. What I do not understand is why she had to make this half - naked photo for "Yediot Acharonot". This is reducing her credibility and every haredi guy can now threaten his wife:
"You want to rebel and leave ? Fine, but look what you have to do in order that the secular society is accepting you. Do you want to pose naked ?"
Definitely not and thus the woman prefers to stay.
No, it was not a great idea having this picture taken. Otherwise she showed lots of courage by leaving Gur and escaping to a society she did not even now.


  1. I saw a tv-programme about Sara and it touched my heart.

  2. B"H

    Believe it or not: Sarah is a very confident woman. She is studying (her college degree), working and taking care of her kids. She does have a boyfriend who is also a kind of runaway. A former Litvak with a Sephardi background.

    Life for Sarah is hard, as she has to support herself but she seems to be great in managing it.

  3. The similarity between ortodox jews and fundamentalist islamist are apparent. Probably the main reason as to why the two groups don´t get along at all. They simply mirror eachothers FEARS. Unfortunately they involve God. Realise: GOD is LOVE.

  4. B"H

    Orthodox Jews keep the Torah and I don't see any connection to Islamist fundamentalist who have a totally different goal in life.

    It is obvious that you don't even know Orthodox Jews but think in a stereotype way.

    By the way: G - d is not only love but He also acts with stringency and justice.

  5. I have an idea what the anonymous commentator meant with saying that fundamental moslems and ultra-orthodox jews resemble each other. (Before taking it as a personal insult, try to put on your objective glasses for a second! Put your own belief to the side and TRY to see what he or she is REALLY saying. The person is NOT saying that they follow the same scriptures!) There is the same connection between them as between all fanatics. The fanatics' first order of business is ALWAYS to treat women like dirt and it happens in ALL religions! Doesn't matter if we are talking about moslems, jews, christians,you name it. Look at the maniac in the US who tried to become candidate for the Republican party. He tried to push women back to the 1800s. We are talking about men who are afraid of loosing control, who feel threatened and who will bully the weaker if religion, politics or something else allows them to. Isn't that why frightened, insecure young men flocked to the SA and Kristallnacht among other things happened? But also, all women in Nazi Germany had to give up jobs, make up, pretty clothes and just start becoming baby machines? Isn't that why terrorists flew in to the the twin towers and Atta, one of the pilots, forbade any woman to even come close to his grave?
    Like one puts eye shields on a horse, so he will not be distracted by the world around him and go crazy, but move straight forward, religious fanatics put on the same kind of eye shields and then they will form their own rules that can not be found in the Koran, the Torah nor in the Bible! Everything to make them feel in control in an uncontrollable world!

  6. B"H

    I think comparing Haredim and Muslims with young Nazis or Mohammad Atta is totally out of place. Neither every Haredi nor Muslim is a fanatic and there are plenty among them treating women in a nice way. What you are doing is putting all the stereotype together and getting mixed up.