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IrememberbeinginthethirdgradeandmymomandIwrotealistofallthegirlsinmygirlsonlyhasidic

Jewishgirls'school.TheschoolwasapartoftheHasidicsectofBelz.Thepurposewastofindmeafriend.
WewentoverthelisttoseeiftherewasanyoneIwantedtobefriendswith.Idon'trememberwhat
happenedafterwewentoverthatlist.However,Idorememberthatclearlynothingwasaccomplished,and
untilIleftthereligionofhasidicJudaismattheageof24,Iwouldnothaveanyfriends.Ithoughtagirl
namedChevywasmyfriendinthe10thgrade,butwhenshehadtotellhersisterthatIwasatherhouse,
shesaid:Myclassmateishere.Irememberbeingstungbyhernotreferringtomeasherfriend.

Itisnow,havingrecentlycelebratedmy5yearanniversaryforleavinghasidicJudaismthatIrealizewhat
myproblemprobablywas.Itwasprobablyduetothefactthatmymom'sparentsareconvertstoHasidic
Judaism,mygrandmotherhadmostofacollegedegreefromBrooklynCollegeattheageof18,ishighly
intellectual,andItakeafterherandstronglyidentifywithmyAmericanroots.Iwasn'tabletohaveanything
todishaboutwithmypeers.Icouldn'tsharewiththemmyloveforreadingbooksontheOlympics.Ilikedmy
teacherMrs.Binetinthe7thgrade.Shewas"cool."Belzwasrightwingenoughtomakeallmarried
teacherswearhatsontopoftheirwigsiftheyworeawigandnotasilkyscarfcovering.Mrs.Binetwas
chastisedforwearingahatabittoofancy.Trendinesswasnotencouraged.Thatwastheaustere
environmentIwasin.

Ididn'tknowthatleavingthefaithwasanoptiontomeuntiltheageof23whenasecularrelativetoldmeI
could.Ididn'tknowthatIwillnevergetmarriedtoahasidicguy.WhenIwas16myuneducatedmom
personallydiagnosedmewithbipolarandgiventhefamilysituationwhenIwas18,Iwasallowedtoattend
collegeandthengraduateschool.ButwhenIwas18orso,IrememberwonderingaboutwhatifIwould
haveaboy?AdayatBelzschoolfrompre1atotheendofhighschoolwasdividedinhalf.Thetwopartsof
thedaywere"Yiddish"(thefirsthalf),and"English,"thesecondhalf.IpurposelyflunkedoutofYiddishasI
knewtherewouldbenoconsequencesastherewereseparatediplomasforEnglishandYiddish.InAugust
2004,attheageof18,IwasacceptedtoTouroCollegewithonlymydiplomaandnotranscriptsashasidic
schoolsrefusetoprovidetranscripts.Buthasidicboysaren'tasluckyashasidicgirls.Theydonotknow
simplemathsuchasdivisionorfractions.Thatisbecausetheirdayisn'tdividedintwo.Theyhaveonly
"Yiddish"allday.IrememberwonderingwhatIwoulddoifIwouldhaveasonandhewouldbesubjectedto
thetortureoflearningYiddishallday.IremembermyteacherMrs.Gipsteachingusthelawsofkashrutand
shewasobsessingoveraccidentallyusingadairyutensilinameatpotandwithoutknowingtheword,
Bullshit,thatiswhatIwasthinking,andfailingthatclassandsomanyotherswasthesmartestthingIdid.
WithoutknowingIwasagnosticIrefusedtostudyrulesthatwereclearlynotapplicableto2001.Thiswas
thesamewiththeLammedTesMeluchosalreadyinthe6thgrade.TheLammedTesMeluchosarethe36
commandmentskeptonShabbat.IrememberonecommandmentforbidstyingknotsonShabbatandmy
teachertaughtusalltheloopholestotyinganduntyingknots.Iwaschastisedtodecoratingmylammedtes
meluchosbookandmakingittoofancy,buttheactualstudyingoftheHebrewwordsthatIwrotesofancily
neverhappened.

IdiscussedtheabovetotrytoexplainwhathappenstointelligentchildrenwithAmericanbackgrounds.
However,IfeelasthoughHasidicJudaismshouldn'texistatall.My3nephewsarebeingraisedinavery
stricthasidicJewishenvironment.Itisn'tfairtothemthattheyhavetolivetheirlivesthewaytheydo.The
mostfuntheyhaveistocolorwithcrayons.EvenifIwouldbeallowedtobeintheirlives,theywouldnotbe
allowedtoplaygamesonmyiPhone.BasicjoysAmericankidsgetonadailybasismynephewsdon'thave.
InsteadtheyhavelonghoursataCheder,whichisaboys'school,wheretheyareforcedtositinoneplace
andstudyJewishlawsandhistorywithZEROtimeforsports.OnTVtoday,IwatchedRogerFedererplayat
WimbledonandtheguyIwaswithexplainedthatthewinnerneedstowin3sets.Ordinarily,Iwouldbelieve

thatmynephewswillneverseetennis...ButIhadaconversationlastnightwithtwofriends,YangboDuand
Jasonthatsuggestsotherwise.

JasonandYangboweretalkingabouthowFacebook,inabrilliantmarketingeffort,createda501c3called
internet.org
whichgivesfreeinternetconnectionstothoseusing
facebook.com
,gettingallthatadrevenue
andmakingmoneythatway.ThenFacebookgetsevenmoremoneybychargingiftheuserusesany
domainotherthan
facebook.com
.IdisagreedwithJasononhisstancethatFacebookshouldn'tbedoing
this.IseehowatheisthasidicJewspretendtobelieveandFacebookistheironlyoutletforspeakingwith
likemindedJews(unlessFacebookistippedoffthattheiraccountisfakeandautomaticallydeletesit).But
rabbisdonotallowcomputersorsmartphones,so
internet.org
couldn'thelpmypeople.Thenextpartofour
conversationissomethingIthinkpeoplewouldfindeyeopening.Theausterelifestylemypeoplefaceof
arrangedmarriages,strictsegregationofthegenders,thewifeshavingherhead,thecouplehavingsexwith
thewifewearingabrainthecompletedark(holeinthesheet,anyone?)butstillproducing13children
generallythroughoutherlifetime,workingforcashonlysothatUncleSamcanhelpwithfoodstamps,
section8,andMedicaidandseeingonaverageworsedoctorsbecausetheyhavetheworst
insurance...Jasonthinksthatthatmightendin20years.

Jasonhasahasidiclandlordsohehadaspecificexampleformetoillustratehislogic:Hislandlordwas3
weekslatereplyingtohisemailaboutabrokenairconditioner.Therefore,hiselectricitybillwasthroughthe
roofandherefusedtopayamonth'srent.Jasonsaidhislandladyexplainedthatshedoesn'thavethe
internetsoshewasunabletorespondtohisemailinatimelyfashion.However,nowthatshelostamonth's
rent,willshefindawaytocheckheremaileveryday?Probablyyes.

Rightnowrabbisarewinning.Oneofthecharacteristicsofacultisacharismaticleader.Thesecharismatic
rabbisaresayingnototheinternet.Butcanyousurvivewithouttheinternet?Iworkedforabout5years
throughoutcollegeformyauntonaparttimebasis.Sheandmyunclearerunninganexterminating
businessoutoftheirhome.Theyfaceincredibledifficultiesbynothavingtheinternetintheirhome.OnceI
stoppedgeneratingareportonchemicalusage,theyhadtheirconsultantdoit.Theirconsultanthasto
physicallycometoBoroParktoputthedataonaUSBdriveandthenshewillworkwithit.Thisisnow.

WhenIhadtorenewmyNYSID,Ididsoonline.whatifin20yearsyouhavetogoonlinetogetabirth
certificateforyourchild.Ihavemineonpaper.Doesthatmakesense?Ahasidicmomwith13children
needsthosebirthcertificatessothatshecouldgetfoodstampsforherchildassoonasthatchildisborn.
Willshegoonlinesothatshecangetherfoodstamps?Ibelieveshewill.Andoncesheisonline,shemight
comeacrossastoryonthehomescreen,andthatmightmakeherthinkaboutherharshlife,whichshe
embraces,butsheisembracingitwithoutthinking.IFPEOPLEWEREALLOWEDTOTHINK,THEY
WOULDNOTBERELIGIOUS.Thinkinganalyticallywhenitcomestobasiclifedecisionsissomethingnew
tomeandsomethingIstillstrugglewith,5yearsafterleaving.