Monday, August 27, 2012
Pearlperry Reich, The New York Jew who wandered from the flock
Women may not wear trousers and many wear wigs to cover their shaven heads, because of the belief that natural hair can be sexually arousing.
In the homes of this suburb, there are no televisions or radios. Here, inside the great city of New York, the world is kept away.
Reich was 18. Sinai Susholz was 27. There was no attraction, but she did not question it. She believed marriage was a holy vessel for the production of children.
“I knew that I had no choice, because I believed everything I had been taught,” she says.
“A girl in our community, at the age of 18, is equivalent emotionally to a 13 year old in another community. We do not have choice. We are told what to do. We parrot everything.
By the age of 24, she’d had four children – a boy and three girls. She worked designing bridal fashion. After her second child was born, she began thinking about a divorce.
She had no feelings for her husband and says he felt threatened by her looks.
“We had no sexual compatibility,” she says. “Nothing doing.” The families intervened and sent the couple to orthodox counselling.
After having two more children, she’d had enough. She took out retraining orders for physical abuse. She says her husband believed she was seeing other men. She says she never did. “I was a good wife, I brought in money, I gave him kids, I was beautiful. What more did he want?”
“There was no abuse,” Sevrin says. “They were mere allegations.”
Reich took her four children and went back to Brooklyn to live with her parents.
She could not get a normal civil divorce because she had been pressured to sign a document which gave the Beth din court power to arbitrate over her marriage issues.
It wasn’t a stunt. Reich says she suddenly just stopped believing, in all religion. She began wearing pants, got a tattoo and did some modelling. “I went to the Museum of Natural History and saw these sculptures and this archeology,” she says. “I was going out of my mind. I’d been told it was all false.”
Another condition is that she collect her children from school in Hasidic-approved attire and observes the Sabbath when the kids are in her home.
Reich does not like the deal, but says she is exhausted from fighting. She says she has no hate for the Hasidic community. “I’m against the leaders,” she says. “It has evolved into a cult and it was never supposed to be that way.”
She says she has connections to a strong underground of unhappy Hasidics who, she says, only maintain the appearance of piousness so their children are not kicked out of schools and they are not shunned.
“Life is harder now I’m not religious,” she says. “I used to get more monetary support. Religion provides security, yet when you discover your individuality, you can’t go back to that security.
She says she watches closely as her eldest child, a son aged 10, who wears the side locks, develops views of women as subordinates.