Thursday, January 14, 2010

Meeting Sarah Einfeld


So, how is she this Sarah Einfeld ?
About a year and a half ago, Sarah Einfeld left the chassidic group she was born into: Chassidut Gur (Yiddish: Ger) in Ashdod. Since she has been living together with her two children in Ramat Gan (next to Tel Aviv). For the past two years, she is running her famous Israeli blog called "Chor Ba'Sadin - A Hole in the Sheet".
This hole in the sheet is a synonym for the "rumour" that some extreme Chassidim have sex with a sheet. A man throws a sheet with a hole at a particular place over his wife.
However, although this is a widespread rumour, it is mostly not true.

Sarah Einfeld also made a movie (see video on the bottom) against gender separation on haredi busses and she spoke about her experiences within the Gur community.

Only for about the past two months or so, I have been reading Sarah's blog. I received the address through someone else and since I have a subscription. Sarah's blog writing is very talented and she should take into consideration writing a book or further professional articles. Her articles are most about Chassidut Gur and its female members. How she left the group, divorced her husband and how she left with her two little children. Since she left, her parents refuse any contact with her. A behaviour which is not easy to deal with and causes Sarah distress. Nevertheless, sometimes in life one has to make a decision and Sarah stated that she is very happy with her "new" freedom.

Why did I meet Sarah Einfeld ?

First of all, someone convinced me to write her. It would be good for her and me to talk about our experiences in haredi society. So, I sent her an e – mail and she responded almost instantly. Making some inquiries because I may have been a haredi spy or someone from Gur. She obviously has experience because Gur threatened kidnapping her children.
I a kind of identified myself more in detail and we set up a personal meeting which took place in Ramat Gan last week.

The first thing I noticed when I met Sarah Einfeld was how young she looks. Much younger than in the videos. Almost like a teenager. It looked like she was more curious than me because she immediately sat down and started asking me questions bout my life. She is extremely hyperactive but her permanent moves here and there did not bother me at all. I told her that I find it very unusual talking to a chassidic woman who does not look chassidic anymore. Sarah has a tattoo and a piercing. She wore tight jeans but spoke like a Beit Yaakov girl.
This was very strange to me, as I am used talking to women with wigs (Sheitel), modest clothes and all this. Sarah did not look like it but I could definitely tell that she still has this certain way of behaviour. Could be that she does not like to hear that but this is how it is.

I met her because I also expected some answer for myself. It is always good talking to another person with basically the same experience. Sarah's life has been very different from my indeed but I am curious to see how other "runaways" are managing their depressions and emotions. I suppose that Sarah was curious about me because I am still in touch with the haredi community and report about them more or less extensively.

No, she does not speak Yiddish but she understands it.
Nothing unusual in Gur !

No, at the moment she is not sure whether there is a G – d because how could He allow so many women in haredi society to suffer.

I told her that there are many positive sides in haredi society and not everything is a terrible mess. She acknowledged that. However, Sarah does not intend to return to Gur. The first awakening in the morning and the first few minutes of the day only belong to her. Both of us enjoy looking at the haredi society from the outside. I spoke to quite a few male Haredim (from different chassidic groups) about Sarah and almost all of them agreed: Sarah Einfeld is still a "chassidic daughter".
She can do whatever she wants. Tattoos, piercing, not keeping Shabbat but she cannot really leave the chassidic world. Never, ever, because she was born into that.
The "being born into" makes a huge difference and this is what the two of us makes so different from each other.

We only met for two hours in a café. Not enough to talk too much. I felt that she is quite sad about the fact to have lost touch with her parents. A fact that hurts. They let her know that she can come back to Gur. To Gur and only to Gur. She has to wear a Sheitel and dress modestly. Including regretting the picture of her in the Sukkot edition of "Yediot Acharonot" where she was not too modest.

I have to admit that I admire her.
We had ordered some food and she stuffed it in. Without washing hands or saying blessings.
Maybe she secretly did in her mind. I do not know …
I, on the other hand, would have a hard time overcoming my guilt feelings. I think too much and she just does.

Despite all the behaviour, I am sure that Sarah has her bad regretting moments. Moments of depression.
Unfortunately we did not have enough time to speak about this issue in detail. She had to pick up her kids from Kindergarden but we keep in touch and hopefully meet again.

Her Ex only allowed her to take one suitcase. Maybe she has not a perfect life yet. It is hard to support a family and earn a living. Her case was intensively discussed in haredi forums. Many many comments accused her of misbehaving. Being a drug addict, insane, whatever. Those are the typical justifications from certain parts of haredi society. As soon as you do not function according to the community rules, you are nuts. A rebel. Drugged and crazy.
Instead of realizing and dealing with the problem, many Haredim and their Rabbis / Rebbes are totally unable to deal with this social problem. They mostly ignore it and thus, making it even worse.

If Chassidut Gur had dealt with Sarah in a different way, maybe involved social workers looking for tolerant solutions, she may have stayed. Just marrying someone off with the first Shidduch is definitely not a solution. Haredi society still thinks that it is possible to marry problems away. "Once you are married and have four, five or six kids, you will not think about rebelling. You just calm down, adjust and shut up".

Can this be a life ? What about one's personal feelings ? The unhappiness and depression ?
Do I not have a right to be myself ? To find my inner self; the ME ?

As the Arizal (Rabbi Yitzchak Luria, 1534 – 1572) based on a Midrash stated:
Not every Jew is alike. When the Israelites crossed the Red Sea, there actually where thin separation walls in order to separate the different tribes. Ruven is not like Menashe and Gad is not Levi. Otherwise G – d would have created us alike. Our challenge is to see something special in every Jew but understand that each of us has a special and different soul root. Not everyone can be chassidic, litvish, whatever. Knowing how to deal with this is the big challenge before Meshiach is coming !

Sarah Einfeld in her movie "Soreret - Rebellious"


  1. Its not a big surprise about women wanting to leave Ger. Their takunes relating to intimacy, etc are very strict. At least it is becoming more publicized now, so much so that gerer bucherim are having hard time with shddichem. See this post.

  2. B"H

    Many of them cannot just leave because they have children. And even without, many of those women do not have the courage !

  3. You are correct that many cannot leave because they are already tied down with children, but the point i was trying to make is that due to the greater exposure of the takunes, etc, hopefully less women will be in einfeld's position in the first place. either that or the pressure of so many unmarried gerrer bucherim will cause the system to blow up (or scrap the takunes).

    1. There are min 8000 married Gererrs and most of them are happy married as myself. I dont judge Einfeld but I can tell you, its not the takunes or way how they got married. Its their will to have it worked out... no marrige Chassidik, litvish and sfardim, if there is no will no matter on the world will make it a happy marridge.

  4. B"H

    I once heard the following:

    There are people in Gur who marry and both marriage partners secretly agree to have sex in different ways but not according to the Takanot.

    I personally believe that this would be possible but you have to find the right spouse. And the question is: How can you search for such a Shidduch because one cannot just ask his Shidduch whether he / she insists on keeping the sex Takanot or if there is a chance of having "normal" sex and not telling anyone ?

    As in most haredi societies, Gerer Chassidim emphasize a good reputation in society. In order to find a good school for their kids as well as appropriate Shidduchim.
    Not too many have the guts to go against society or any rules. They may do at home but less publicly.

    By the way, in case you live in Israel and are connected to YES:

    Tonight at 10.00 PM, Yes shows a TV report about American and Canadian Chozrei Be'Sheelah. How the born Haredim left their society, if they still have connections to their families and about all kinds of problems by entering the secular world.

  5. No unfortunately I do not live in e'y. Anyway you can TiVo or DVR record it and post online? :)

  6. B"H

    I don't have YES and I don't know anyone who has it. However, I will try to get it over Youtube or one of the haredi forums.

  7. Hi, I live in new york. I'm chasidish. I can only say one thing. I think she is right. if anyone wants to ontact me, you can... my email address is