Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Truth about the Mea Shearim girl shown in the movie "Leaving the Fold"


You remember the report "Leaving the Fold" about former Haredim who have left society and now live a secular lifestyle ?

Many of my blog readers actually asked me to get in touch with the Mea Shearim girl who was shown in the movie. She spoke in Hebrew and said that she is from Batei Hungarin (a backyard in Mea Shearim), her sister left haredi society, was seen in pants and beaten by a Chassid from Batei Hungarin. Then the Haredim started a demonstration in front of their house and the entire family had to move out of the neighbourhood.

In the movie, the girl does NOT mention that she, her sister as well as her mother were BAALEI TESHUVA and had moved into the neighbourhood not too long before. The girl rather gives the impression that she was born into society which isn't true. People from the Mea Shearim neighbourhood told me last Shabbat that the family moved in with many problems. The father ran away and the mother got divorced. "Well, Baalei Teshuva always dream too much about our Mea Shearim world and later find out that they don't fit", one former neighbour told me.


  1. Is your list of "many problems" complete, or are there perhaps others?

    Does being BAALIE TESHUVA justify the demonstration? Does a father running? A mother getting divorced?

    Does wearing pants justify a beating? Maybe the demonstration should have been held in front of whoever beat up the girl for wearing pants?

  2. B"H

    For the inhabitants of Batei Hungarin it is already a stigma when a mother is alone with her kids. The same applies to any divorced person raising children.

    The mother got divorced but I am not going deeper into any family business because it not of any importance to the case.

    I said that I am NOT justifying the neighbour's behaviour but as soon as I move into Batei Hungarin I know that I have to behave in a certain way. One MUST lead a particular lifestyle ! If I am not willing to do so, I am in the wrong neighbourhood.

    Whatever it is, the girl should have said that she comes from a Baalei Teshuva family, as this is of great importance.

  3. Which is a bigger stigma in Batei Ungarin, being a divorced woman, or being a violent thug?

    I'm also curious why it is "of great importance" that the family was BTs.

  4. B"H

    I think that Batei Hungarin would say "it depends on the situation". The guy beating surely saw himself doing the right thing; protecting the yard as well as society.

    If a single divorced mother is a Zadeket and frum, I don't think that anyone would complain. Not if the kids are going the same path.

    I don't know how to explain it but among Israeli haredi society it is important to know the background of a person. Just look at the Shidduchim: Usually BTs are getting other BTs as a Shidduch.

    It would have been extremely important mentioning in the movie that the girl only moved in later and that the family became BTs but it just didn't work out.

  5. But since she's no longer part of haredi society, not looking for a shidduch, and the documentary wasn't made for this sector, why is it important that they're BTs?

  6. B"H

    The thing is that she never really belonged to the society but gives the impression she did. I was told that her mother lived only for a very few years in the neighbourhood and, as a Baal Teshuva, your status is always - lets say - not too accepted.

    It would have been extremely important to mention the fact but I guess that the movie sells better with a Mea Shearim participant. No matter if he is real or not.

    By the way: I sent an e - mail to the production company but haven't received a response so far.

  7. Well it's been several months since I saw the movie and I don't remember every word of it and I didn't keep the festival program so I don't even know if I saw the name Meah Shearim before I went to see it and I don't think it would have made a difference in my decision. I saw about ten films at the festival and wasn't just looking for films about Meah Shearim.

    But what I remember about this woman is that her sister was beaten up for wearing pants. That's an outrage. It doesn't matter if it happened to someone with roots in the neighborhood that go back generations, or someone who just moved in yesterday. It doesn't matter if it happened in Meah Shearim or a secular or mixed neighborhood.

    That BTs are "never too accepted" is outrageous, too. It seems to me that if there was a documentary about Sodom, and it depicted the unfortunate plight of Lot, attacked by a mob, someone could object that it didn't make clear that Lot had not been born there, and it was well-known that Sodom was hostile to strangers.