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October 17, 2009

"A Hole In The Sheet" Saved My Life, Former Hasidic Woman Says

Sarah Einfeld The 25-year-old former Gur Hasid and mother of 2 said in an interview in last weekend’s Yediot Aharonot that she was choking in her life, “a carbon copy of masses of other ultra-Orthodox women, all about kids, cooking, husbands, and meeting friends to talk about kids, cooking and husbands.”

Fomer Gur Hasid: 'A Hole in the Sheet' Saved My Life
By Elana Sztokman • Forward

Sarah Einfeld

Sara Einfeld says that “A hole in the sheet” saved her life.

The 25-year-old former Gur Hasid and mother of two from Ashdod said in an interview in last weekend’s Yediot Aharonot that she was choking in her life, “a carbon copy of masses of other ultra-Orthodox women, all about kids, cooking, husbands, and meeting friends to talk about kids, cooking and husbands.”

Then she discovered the Internet and began blogging anonymously at “Hor Basadin,” literally “A Hole in the Sheet.” That, she says, “was when redemption came.”

In the past two years much has changed for Einfeld, the article reveals.

She ran away from home, got divorced, earned driving licenses for auto and motorcycle, started a job as a messenger, got a few tattoos, was disowned by her parents, and became something of a virtual guru for other ultra-Orthodox women.

Her blog grapples with issues around Orthodox women’s restricted lives, including depression, frustration, confusion, and forms of rebellion. “Ultra-orthodox women always want to please,” Einfeld writes. “First their parents, then their husbands, but mostly God. But really, they don’t really know what they want from their miserable lives.”

Einfeld’s rebellion began while a Bais Yakov high school student when she dared to wear thinner socks than usual and read non-Jewish books. At 18, she came home one day and her mother told her she found a match for her. Einfeld spoke to the boy for two hours, “and the next time we met was under the huppah.”

Over the next four years, Einhorn did what she was expected: had two babies, and lived the hasidic life, but battled depression. To cope, she began to blog in early 2007, and discovered many women felt the same way. A year later — faced with the harrowing prospect of a third pregnancy at the age of 23 — she decided that she could no longer live a double life and, taking her two children, ran away.

Einfeld is now not at all religious — “I drive on Shabbat, and eat on Yom Kippur, but I cook a Friday night meal and light candles,” she reports — and her blog attracts throngs of readers. While some attack and others to “return” her, many express a sad yearning, commiseration, and immense gratitude for the forum.

Last weekend’s public “coming out” in Yediot, which included a provocative photo of her upper back with nothing between her skin and the camera other than a shoulder tiger tattoo, a nose ring, and her snood, caused a huge stir in Israel.

Hasidic writer Eliezer Hayoun calls it “The Sara Einfeld Carnival” and claims that she is really on her way “back” to being a Hasid. Tali Farkash, a religious writer at Ynet, wrote, decries “the nasty habit of confronting the past by turning all haredim into miserable people in a closet,” which “has become a bit pathetic.” Though Farkash concedes that, “contrary to what the many haredim who read the article will say about Sarah, every word there is true.”

I’m sure there are many happy Haredi women out there, whatever happiness means. But the debate over whether Orthodox women are “happy” always reminds me of the “Happy Slave” from Plato’s “Lysis,” — the idea that even in oppression some people seem to be okay does not take away from the fact of their oppression.

Einfeld concludes her blog with a heart-wrenching poem written by one of her readers (translation here from Hebrew, as throughout this post, is mine).

I still cry when I remember
Me
A young women who tried to explain to a yeshiva scholar
Who sat across from her
Next to the dark wooden table in the living room.

Who made charts and asked, So what’s bothering you?
And wrote down:

That we don’t pass objects from hand to hand
That you don’t call me by name
That we have intercourse according to predetermined times because that ruins everything.

And then I was embarrassed
To tell him that I want
Him to hug me tight, to give me a little kiss on the lips and say,
I love you.

And when I tried to tell him, I felt dirty.

And how I cried one day so hard until I banged my head against the wall over and over again
Harder and harder.

And he
Closed the steel door quietly
And in fast steps with his hands folded behind him and his face locked to the ground

He went to the Shteibel
Learned Gemara, or an hour of halakha.

And I wanted to die, I wanted to die, I wanted to die.

Because our sages (or rather, his sages) also said, “O hevruta o mituta,”
Either in a pair, or death


Einfeld responds to this poem: “There are women in this country who have never flown on the wings of love … Everybody thirsts for love.”

[Hat Tip: Joel Katz.]

Comments

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"and, taking her two children, ran away"

TAKING HER CHILDREN


How typical. For an "ultra orthodox" woman, she sure knows the universal gender routine of discontented women quite well. It's down to a science and it doesn't exclude any subgrouping within the female sex apparently, even including the hole-in-the-sheet variety.

Btw, I thought 'hole in the sheet' was a myth? It's not?

anyone living a double life, a life where they are not content yet somehow feel forced to continue, will be sad.
How many secular Jews feel the meaningless of school, college, career, marriage, kids, divorce, kids in college, career, marriage, kids, divorce.
The press is beginning to pick up on the obsession that we all have with chareidi weaknesses, and I hope that it will become less of a sensation over the next few months.
What we have to learn is that we all need to be authentic. we need to be real. But we also need to accept that for others, their authentic living might well mirror the lifestyle we have chosen to reject.
we need to be tolerant of those who choose differently to us, and not assume that they are all living with the same pain that we were.
they might be happy. and we should celebrate that, not try to label them as all the same.

Shamarya,

You advised me to stop bloging some years ago, (re: an anti reform blog) and I took your advise. I advised you to do the same. Peter's post, "But we also need to accept that for others, their authentic living might well mirror the lifestyle we have chosen to reject. We need to be tolerant of those who choose differently to us, and not assume that they are all living with the same pain that we were.", should sear into your soul. I knew you from the Old City when you were frum. I advise you again, take a long break from bloging. The world will continue. "Justice" will be done. Hashem has many "shluchim".

Right.

God has many people exposing the child rape and abuse rabbis have covered up for years.

I'll just leave it al to God.

Right.

To be fair there are people who are Orthodox, some might even call us Haredi, who are against child abuse. Who do what we can to stop it. Who do what we can to expose it. Who are working to gain position to make changes from the inside.

Shmarya if you ever want to hear my honest opinion about it you have my email. There are simply somethings that some of us cannot currently say publicly, but we are working to change.

Mekubal, this is so typical of Haredi - working from inside and fearing to go public with your opinion. I've heard the same thing from several haredi rabbis and this is as disgusting as it gets. I haredi world even Rabbis have no freedom to express their opinion for fear of being instantly considered to be on the outside and therefore irrelevant. Kol va homer the regular haredi Jews.
Do you realize Mekubal that you just described Haredi world as opressive dictatorial system with no freedom of expression?
You are right hadedim are opressed whether they realize it or not and even Haredi Rabbis are opressed, but they don't like to admit it.

Shmarya, please don't stop, nobody will fill your place. The "old friend" is wrong. Things don't happen by themselves, it is people who do them.

How many secular Jews feel the meaningless of school, college, career, marriage, kids, divorce, kids in college, career, marriage, kids, divorce.
The press is beginning to pick up on the obsession that we all have with chareidi weaknesses, and I hope that it will become less of a sensation over the next few months.


You have a point. If a scular person does not want to college he is looked at as a nobody and it's hard for him to fit in as well.

Why is it when charedim go off the derech they go right off the edge of normality? Would it not have been enough for her to maybe not be charedi, but still keep judaism? She says she cooks a friday night meal and lights candles, but doesn't keep shabbat or yom kippur. To me she sounds very confused and doesn't know who or what she is.
I often wonder if it's because these sort of people are extreme to begin with. So they live their lives on the extreme right and when they go off they can only go to the extreme left, there is no middle ground.

'Old Friend': I assume you're a person of faith, maybe orthodox? Allow me to point out to you that your suggestion that Shmarya quit the blog, with the addition of the deceptively faith-based assurance that "God will take care of everything" is precisely that: deceptively faith-based, and in truth the antithesis of faith. It is the height of arrogance and indifference, much like one who, witnessing a person drowning, walks past and says to himself, "God will take care of him". You're supposed to care enough about your religion and your people and your world to desire to purge it of its hypocricies and ills and crimes. Not look the other way. Moreover your suggestion that Shmarya look the other way is a double-deception, as you're coating your suggestion in a deceptively faith-based reason which is really deceptively fear-based, since many ills have been uncovered by this blog, and it's not quite as easy any more to hide things under the rug.

Maybe G-d is the one that is inspiring Shmarya to keep going. G-d uses people to do his work.

I saw a funny thing about the shelo asani thing somewhere that changed it to שלא עשני סאטמאר. Modify it as needed for the sect in question.

To R:

You have to understand the way she was raised. She has been told all her life there IS NO other Judaism but Chereidi. It is the rare few of us who turn from ultra orthodoxy but stay with observant Judaism. The UO Rabbis and teachers pound it into kid's heads that MO, Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist, etc., Secular or Athiest Jews are ALL going straight to hell. The Rabbis say that they are the ONLY authentic voice of God and they are empowered to rule in his name - no other authority, not even the Bible, exists. This makes it hard for them to realize they can tell the Chereidi Rabbinate to %*^&*$ off but still have a covenant relationship with God at home alone or in the congregations of other sects of Judaism. They have to learn that it's not an either/or thing and many rebels and apikorus NEVER find that place. They are too angry at the Rabbis and blame God for their experience, instead of realizing God is looking forward to frying the corrupt power-mongering social terrorizing Rabbis, not their helpless victims or those who turn away from them.

Hole in the Sheet. I noticed some criticism of the name of her blog and the insistence that this is not the Jewish approach to sex.

However, let's keep in mind that we are talking about Gerer hassidim, the only large hassidic groups which has a set of rules for their members that do constitute a rejection of sexual pleasure.

Their brilliant Rebbe has issued special rules like women always on bottom, no foreplay, basically wham bang for children) and only a few times a month.

Yeah the guys also lose out but for women this amounts to sanctioned marital rape.

So while I am not assuming a sheet with hole (though I wouldnt be surprised with Ger the title of her blog does capture a culture which is particularly insensitive to women. Like all hassidic groups it is our way or OTD. For purposes of Kiruv they may give you time to acclimate, but if you are FFB, there is no flexibility once you deviate publicly.

Ahavah: nice. Love what you wrote toward the end: "...Instead of realizing God is looking forward...", etc. Good stuff.

I also thought it was a myth. And when I googled the name of the blog, I got umpteen hits saying it was a myth. When I found the blog, I fount this: Link

So, you tell me. I can barely decipher it.

Effie: is that link for real?! or some sort of parody?

Maybe G-d is the one that is inspiring Shmarya to keep going. G-d uses people to do his work.

I hope he has a PayPal account!

Congratulations Sara, on having the courage to live your truth. Those who are not aligned with their truth live a slow torturous death, ruled by fear and never realizing the truth of who they are. Who is a religion to tell you who to be? Religions rule by fear through politics - it's a power game always with men at the top. Follow your heart, be who you are, know yourself, fear not. Your courage will be rewarded by your fulfillment of yourself and as an example to others.

Live Life Happy!

harold:

Did you send a check to the homeless yet?

Asa: I believe it is meant to be parody, but the fact that both of us aren't 100% sure, tells you something -- about them, not us. :-)

Ah, very, VERY true. A second look at the title of the blog made me suspect, and then I checked out another section--the one about the egg-roll halachas, at which point I figured this couldn't possibly be serious. Then again... *Sigh* I give up.

"Ba’al HaShtuss" " Masechet Baba Meiseh." etc...

It's obviously a parody/joke page.

Thanks for the link, it hysterically funny.

it IS hysterically funny. Sorry for the typo.

Shmarya: The link to the Forward article is bad.

This is the right link.

http://blogs.forward.com/sisterhood-blog/116979/

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