Last Friday, Deb Tambor, a 33-year-old woman who left the Skverer Hasidic community in New York, took her own life.
Like me, Deb was part of the growing community of ex-haredim, men and women who have undertaken difficult journeys away from ultra-Orthodoxy. I do not know all the specifics in Deb’s case, but I do know that, like me, she was denied meaningful contact with her children because she chose to leave her Hasidic community.
The particulars of her situation were unusually sad: She was allowed to see her children only once a month, under supervision of a family member who remained within the community where she grew up. She was not allowed to take her children out of the Hasidic enclave where they live. The visits were frequently canceled; the children had weddings and bar mitzvahs and other events to attend, and she could always visit with them next month, she was told. She felt humiliated when they began to call her by her first name, Devorah. She wanted them to keep calling her “Mommy,” but “Mommy” was a title given to somebody else—the Hasidic woman her ex-husband married.