Date: February 15, 2012 02:44AM
There's a lot of emotional abuse and exposure of sexual abuse in the Hasidic community recently. It has all the sicknesses that any culture has where connection to the modern world is repressed and sanctioned.http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=99913807
The people Oprah interviewed are very much the apologists, the most articulate and best prepared. Men divorce women who are infertile as a common practice in their community.
Okay this is really bad...
I grew up in Miami Beach during a time when there were many Hasidic Jews (many Yeshivas and synagogues.) My best friend was the regular babysitter for the Hasidic family next door. (The children spoke the very beautiful Hebrew...) They had certain rules about places we could not touch in the kitchen (because of Kosher rules). You couldn't mix milk and meat or allow them to be on the same plate, etc.
We were goyim (gentiles) to them that's why we couldn't touch certain places in their house. My friend and I babysat together one night, and the first thing we gentiles did was...touch every place they said not to touch and then take the milk and make it touch the meat, etc.
OK, we made a mockery and that was bad but we were 14 year old gentiles!!!
The wife had a separate bedroom for her time of the month. (2 weeks of the month, actually.)
There's a really beautiful movie starring Isabella Rosellini called Left Luggage about a Hasidic family in Europe in Belgium. It will break your heart if you really are interested in understanding them a little more.
But getting back to our 14 year old mentality, I just remember my sister and I watching the men walking the streets to and from synogogue on Saturdays in those long beards and heavy dark coats and hats in the Miami Beach humidity and heat. Yes, they wear those coats in Miami Beach in the summer! It's enough to make you pass out from heat stroke just watching. They're not allowed to turn on lights or drive cars on the sabbath so they walked and lit candles at home. The outfits are frozen in time to what they wore in cold Poland in the early 19th century or even earlier.
Chaim Potok's novels are really powerful depictions of the pain of growing up within that community. The Chosen is the best one. I feel very sorry for them for the same reasons I feel sorry for any religious group living a restricted life believing it keeps them close to God.