I have been on a joyride since I started my Instagram account this past December. I have collaborated with some talented designers whom I respect and truly appreciate for trusting me with their designs. Being a blogger has it's benefits can't argue with that but I never started on this journey with that sole purpose in mind, as a matter of fact I had no idea I could collaborate with designers. This journey has introduced me to wonderful people such as Pearl Perri who is not only the founder and designer of her namesake collection but is also a mother. Her story is one of a mother's enduring love and plight to fight the injustice that separates parents and children due to religious differences. Save Penina's Children Charity a non-profit organization was originally founded to assist Penina Perri aka Pearl in gaining custody of her children and now she assists others that find themselves in the same predicament. As some of you know, I live with Bipolar 1 disorder and when I went through my divorce a couple months ago, I was so afraid that my illness would be used against me. Since I did not want my children to be dragged unnecessarily through the court system, I walked away empty handed and my home will be put up for sale in about two years when my daughter turns 18. I walked away from designer clothing, trips, fancy hotels and a lot of money but I kept my children and that to me means more than any material possession. I realized that justice is based on how good my attorney was and because I could not afford to retain one, and no one would do it pro-bono, I was at a huge disadvantage and instead kept what was left of my sanity and my children and never turned back. My divorce has shaken me to the core and I've had to draw strength from people such as Pearl, my loyal followers, God and a deep deep place inside me. After reading Pearl's story I realized how much we had in common. I'm so blessed to have all of you in my life and although I have not personally met you I value your friendship and want to thank you for reading my posts and following me. I promise to always stay true to myself because it's the only way I can survive now.
Photo Shoot Location: Los Angeles County Arboretum, Arcadia, CA
Photographers: Chanel Asfaw
Kimono: L.A. Hearts, Denim Jeans: Bullhead, Headwrap: Free People
Sandals: Steve Madden
Necklace and Engraved Bracelet: Pearl Perri Jewelry & Accessories
I visited one of the most amazingly devoted moms last night as part of my organizations responsibilities, making sure these moms are coping both emotionally and physically. i was so inspired by her strength of character, her ambition, her mother lioness personality, her excruciating pain she put up with.
Nothing would ever stand in the journey between her and her three precious kids. When she lost custody of her kids due to religious intolerance she didn't even entertain giving up, She made sure that the voices of her children and their pain was and is audible through hers. We helped her hire a professional attorney and had referred her to money resources due to the unfortunately extravagant amount of money it legally requires. Last night through the exchange of the conversation she told me that her kids are on the way to retaining her/ the mom they so deserve and yearn for. After loads of pain and ocean of tears, triumph is shining through and the sun is rising once again.
Kelly Myzner we are super proud of you and your strength and cant wait for your kids complete victory!!!
In 1966 the UN passed the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, expanding its prior statement to address the manifestation of religion or belief. Article 18 of this Covenant includes four paragraphs related to this issue:
1. Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right shall include freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his [her] choice, and freedom either individually or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his [her] religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching.
2. No one shall be subject to coercion which would impair his [her] freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his [her] choice.
3. Freedom to manifest one’s religion or belief may be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary to protect public safety, order, health, morals or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others.
4. The States Parties to the present Covenant undertake to have respect for the liberty of parents and, when applicable, legal guardians, to ensure the religious and moral education of their children in conformity with their own convictions.
After twenty years of debate, intense struggle and hard work, the General Assembly in 1981 adopted without a vote the Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief. While the 1981 Declaration lacks any enforcement procedures, it remains the most important contemporary codification of the principle of freedom of religion and belief.
The 1981 UN Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief contains eight articles, three of which (1,5,6) define specific rights. The remaining articles act in a supportive role by outlining measures to promote tolerance or prevent discrimination. Taken together, the eight articles constitute a paradigm, an overall concept, to advocate for tolerance and to prevent discrimination based on religion or belief. While human rights are individual rights, the 1981 UN Declaration also identifies certain rights related to states, religious institutions, parents, legal guardians, children, and groups of persons.
Article 5: Parents, Guardians, Children.
At stake in the implementation of this article are the following rights:
· Right of parents or legal guardians to bring the child up in their religion or belief;
· Right of the child to education in religion or belief, in accordance with the wishes of parents, and the right not to be compelled to receive education against their wishes;
· Right of the child to protection from discrimination and to education for tolerance;
· Right of the child’s wishes when not under the care of parents or legal guardians;
· Right of the State to limit practices injurious to child's development or health.
Its a time of holiday celebration and happiness for many of us....
At the same time it's a time of pain and depression for many of us who are entitled for the same enjoyment yet are sadly grieving over their loss. for the simple reason of שנאת חינם /simple hatred due to custody and religious intolerance which in turn causes parental alienation.
I Just put down the phone after listening to a mom crying bitterly with tears that pierced every fiber of my being . After not seeing her son for months and reuniting hoping to reignite some sweet memories with mom.... all he told her with a cold biting voice "mom life would be much simpler and easier without you"........ (I don't want to go into details but this child has definitely been alienated)
How can a religious community, a father, a step mom who preaches the ten Commandments of" כבד "את אביך ואת אמך brainwash the child to such an evil extent??!!!
How can a yeshiva give a hand of consent to such behavior and Encourage it??!! Yeshiva "Texas torah Institute of chafetz chayim"
IS that the teaching of the Holy chafetz chayim???!!!! (holy sages)
Have you learned the famous story in gemara of DAMA, SON OF NETINA???!!!
What have you gained from teaching religion if you've lost the true value and Essence of the basic ten commandments????!!!
You are all breeding selfish egoistic individuals who are arrogant in the name of something you unfortunately hijacked as religion.
כיבוד אב ואם היא מצוות יסוד ביהדות, בהיותה הדיבר החמישי בעשרת הדיברות: "כַּבֵּד אֶת-אָבִיךָ, וְאֶת-אִמֶּךָ, לְמַעַן יַאֲרִכוּן יָמֶיךָ, עַל הָאֲדָמָה, אֲשֶׁר-יְהוָה "אֱלֹהֶיךָ נֹתֵן לָך" (שמות כ' י"ב).2/ exudos 20:12" honor your mother and father sop that you may live long in the land the lord gave to you"
Has religion become a form of weapon to hurt others??!!!
If snapshots could tell the story of a person’s existence, then by all accounts, recent pictures of Deb Tambor showed only happiness and a complete life being lived to the fullest.
There was Tambor on the beach, in a tank top, as she basked in the sunlight with her friends, and then in synagogue, clad in a tallit, as she completed psichat ha’aron, the opening of the holy ark. There was Tambor next to Elvis Presley and Britney Spears impersonators; protesting abuse at rallies; atop an ATV, in a convertible and cuddling in bed with her small dogs. There she was, nestled in the various embraces of her adoring boyfriend. In almost all the photos, there was Tambor’s broad smile and its accompanying indentations imprinted on either cheek.
But pictures never tell a complete story, and what was missing from these was the deep depression that enveloped Tambor, a 33-year-old ex-chasidic woman who left the Skver community in which she was raised, married and bore three children. Tambor regularly posted about her bitter custody struggles on a Facebook page for the burgeoning community of self-described “Off the Derech” (OTD) Jews; there, she also posted about her increasingly reserved children. Friends testify that it was her children’s alienation from her, orchestrated, her supporters say, by their chasidic father and community, that caused Tambor’s profound sadness.
Tambor sought psychiatric help for her depression, found a new home and partner in fellow ex-chasid Abe Weiss, and forged close friendships with other OTDers. But her monthly supervised visits with her children, who took to calling her Devorah because they were instructed to refer to only their stepmother as Mommy, were too painful a reminder of what she had lost. On Sept. 27, Tambor was found dead in an apparent suicide at the home she shared with Weiss in New Jersey.
The ensuing outcry from mainstream and OTD bloggers on social media and from writers throughout the New York area has shed light on a disturbing trend within ultra-Orthodox communities — the alienation of children from their non-frum parents, and the dearth of resources available in the United States to help them.
“The chasidic community drove Deb to commit suicide, pure and simple,” said Pearl Reich, 32, a mother of four who left her own chasidic community in Borough Park, Brooklyn, two years ago. Reich has since appeared on radio and talk shows like Dr. Phil’s to describe the campaign of degradation the ultra-Orthodox community waged against her and continues to wage against other parents who defect; the community, Reich told The Jewish Week, labels such people as “heretics” and “whores,” and attempts to wrest custody and children’s affections away from them.
“The two most important resources in a battle like that are money and emotional support, and people who leave the community usually don’t have either,” said Reich, who eventually won full residential custody after a lengthy legal saga and with the help of anonymous contributions from sympathizers in her former community. “There were many times where I felt like giving up, and I can understand how a mother who is cut off from her own children can get to a place where suicide seems like the only option.”
Fraidy Reiss had a happier ending when she left an arranged marriage to an abusive ultra-Orthodox man and prevailed in the ensuing battle in court for custody of their two daughters. “I was very lucky that my ex gave up the fight for custody pretty quickly, even though I was openly living as an atheist,” said Reiss.
Mindful of women with less-happier endings, Reiss founded a nonprofit organization two years ago called Unchained At Last that helps both Jewish and non-Jewish women leave arranged and forced marriages and win custody of their children in civil court. So far, the organization has supplied over 65 clients, mostly from ultra-Orthodox backgrounds, with pro bono divorce attorneys and other support services. But the nonprofit has yet to help a formerly chasidic mother win custody of her children and raise them outside her former community.
“I see many of those women go to beit din, or Jewish court, and end up with divorce agreements that say they must raise their children ultra-Orthodox, and sometimes even that they must remain ultra-Orthodox, in order to retain custody of their children,” explained Reiss. “Those agreements are legally binding and very difficult to overturn in civil court.”
While Unchained At Last is the sole resource for women in the U.S. wholly dedicated to helping them leave arranged marriages and forge new lives, it is not as well known as Footsteps, the national organization that provides both men and women who leave their religious Jewish communities with educational and professional training, and emotional and social support groups.
Though its website cites no programs tailored specifically toward helping parents with legal and financial assistance, Michael Jenkins, a psychotherapist and Footsteps’ program director, said 30 percent of its members are parents and refers to a Family Issues Handbook as a “beginning resource to navigating court systems and family supports.”
Lani Santo, Footsteps’ executive director, says that the organization has been doing “much deeper work” to assist members facing the added issues of divorce and custody arrangements after leaving the community, and is on the verge of debuting a pilot of the Footsteps Family Supports project. “People are seeing Deb’s passing as the tipping point for the difficult issues that parents face,” said Santo.
Whatever support OTDers find in one another and in these two support organizations, it is often a weak opponent when matched against the considerable power and influence wielded by the united ultra-Orthodox community; that community raises substantial funds for legal battles and often instigates an operation of intimidation against the opposing parent.
That was the case with Kelly Myzner, a secular Jew who became ultra-Orthodox at age 21, quickly married within the community and had three sons. When she filed for sole legal and physical custody in 2011, the family court judge awarded custody to her allegedly abusive ex-husband, citing her belief that religious consistency carried great weight. Myzner’s case caused several bloggers, such as Shmarya Rosenberg, who runs the website Failed Messiah, to point out that Rockland County’s influential Orthodox community donated large sums of money to the campaign of the family court judge hearing Myzner’s case.
“In places like Rockland County and Lakewood [in New Jersey], the haredi communities use their political influence and money to rip children away from parents who are no longer haredi, or sufficiently haredi,” Rosenberg told The Jewish Week. “That power and influence is considerable and judges are often seemingly much more concerned with what haredi rabbis want done than they are with what is best for the children or with what is ethical,” Rosenberg said.
The considerable political and financial influence of the ultra-Orthodox villages within Rockland County’s town of Ramapo, which includes the New Square community where Tambor is from, has been raising eyebrows for years. When an Orthodox majority won control of the East Ramapo School District in 2007, it sharply reduced the district’s school budget and inspired bitter acrimony among Ramapo’s non-Jewish residents. A 2011 arson attack on a New Square dissident that left him with severe burns emphasized what some see as the community’s totalitarian rule and demand for absolute conformity, and its potential wrath against noncompliant individuals.
Shulem Deen, a prominent blogger who left the Skver community six years ago, recently wrote in Tablet magazine that in Rockland County, “…custody battles required rabbis, community leaders, and Orthodox family therapists on your side. I was unaware that family courts were also part of the local political machinery and that elections and constituencies were never far from a judge’s mind. I was unaware that my relatively meager resources were no match for a powerfully resourceful community with an ideological stake in the future of my children.”
Photos of Deb Tambor in recent years are still being posted, on a Facebook page dedicated to her memory; a virtual commemoration of her life. They paint images of her in happier times, but knowing all we do of Tambor now, one cannot help but look at them, and notice only what is missing.