A Judaic woman flees misogyny and mind control
One Hasidic Housewife's Inspiring — and Unusual — Journey to College and Beyond
By Frimet Goldberger
Jewish Daily Forward | January 9, 2014
= Excerpt =
The lives of Satmar women weren’t always so cloistered. My mother was among the first generation of Satmar-educated girls in America. She grew up in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg, the daughter of Holocaust survivors, in those early years when the Satmar community was finding its footing. Her academic and cultural experiences were radically different from mine: New York City public school teachers staffed the English department of Bais Rochel, the Satmar girls school. My mother spoke English with her siblings and peers, read secular literature, visited the library regularly, attended movies occasionally, listened to the radio and dressed fashionably.
As the Hasidic community shifted rapidly toward extremism, so did the curriculum in Satmar schools. Gone were the qualified public school teachers, replaced by recent Satmar graduates. Yiddish replaced English as the language spoken in school. My classmates and I were taught Judaic studies, starting with the aleph-bet in kindergarten and continuing with the weekly parsha, or Torah portion, stories in Yiddish. In maintaining the traditional ban on substantive Torah lessons for girls, biblical studies in Hebrew were forbidden, and knowledge of Hebrew texts was restricted to prayers.
Secular studies were limited to the rudiments, and focused on practical learning for becoming a successful balebuste. Math, beyond simple home budgeting, was considered unnecessary; Shakespeare and other classic or contemporary literature a waste of precious time that could be spent learning how to keep house, and science — aside from raising difficult questions about creation — an abomination. We had no access to the library, the Internet or any secular materials. Our textbooks were highly censored with permanent markers and crayons to block out material perceived as a threat to our sheltered brains.
...One snowy morning in December 2008, my husband and I packed our fragile belongings into our old, tan Buick and headed onto the road. Our destination was Airmont, N.Y. — just a 30-minute drive from Kiryas Joel, but truly a world away.
Our move was the culmination of years of questioning our radical community and the complete conformity required to live and breathe there. The friendships we’d forged with Orthodox couples living considerably less stringent lives outside Kiryas Joel also catalyzed the modest, incremental changes toward our more progressive Orthodox lifestyle. But the straw that broke the camel’s back was an incident the summer before our move, when a group of Satmar modesty enforcers threatened to expel my 3-year-old son from the only boys school in the community if I didn’t shave my head. I went home that night and buzzed off my long hair. But it was too late to go back to a strict Satmar lifestyle. The following morning, my husband and I decided to leave...
[Emphasis supplied] Read more at: http://forward.com/articles/190267/one-hasidic-housewifes-inspiring-and-unusual-j/
Michael Hoffman's AfterwordFrimet Goldberger writes that the Hasidic Judaics "shifted rapidly toward extremism" after having risen from the ashes of World War II. Actually, the zeitgeist of the 1940s and 50s in America created pressure on the Hasidim to broaden their horizons, just as Goldberger describes. The extremism that was later imposed was a return to what Talmudic Judaism had always been before Christians and gentiles pressured Talmudic Judaics in Europe in the late 18th century to abandon the Talmud's superstition, misogyny, and hatred toward goyim. The result was the "haskalah" and the rise of Reform Judaism. Consequently, what Goldberger witnessed growing up in Satmar was not an anomaly. It was what every Talmudic-observant ("frum") Judaic woman experienced from the mists of antiquity.
Frimet Goldberger writes of her entrance into an allegedly more liberated Orthodox Judaism. Granted, modern Orthodoxy is more permissive and less suffocating than Hasidism, but as long as the Talmudic laws of Niddah are imposed on Judaic women (as they are even among the modern Orthodox), women who are captive to those rules remain slaves of one of the most severe and oppressive forms of micro-management of female behavior on earth. This is another taboo area where the self-censoring establishment media choose not to tread. (Cf. Judaism Discovered, pp. 729-748, for documentation concerning the Orthodox rabbinic laws of Niddah).
The Zionist media, from the New York Times on down, has nurtured a feminist resistance movement inside Christianity and Islam. They have published many stories undermining Islamic fundamentalism, while much of the establishment media's focus on Talmudic fundamentalist Judaism has consisted in supporting it against critics, and whitewashing its overwhelming misogyny. (Cf. Judaism Discovered, pp. 41 − 44, for documentation of this media double standard).
Evelyn Kaye in her classic, now out-of-print book, The Hole in the Sheet, and Deborah Feldman in her recent work Unorthodox, offer further documentation of the misogyny and mind control of Talmudic Judaism.