Friday, September 16, 2011
Hush by Eishes Chayil
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Hush is the story of a girl, Gittel, and the aftermath of her best friend’s death at 9 years of age. The story takes place in the Ultra-Orthodox Jewish Community…with all its emphasis on traditions dating back hundreds of years. How does one go about dealing with an all too real monster of abuse and still live within the rules and guidelines of a religion that never dreamt of the horrors around today?
Hush was a tough read for a number of reasons. I grew up around a lot of Moderate and Reformed Jews, attended a lot of Passover Seders, and learned my fair share of Yiddish. I knew the Hassidic Community was Ultra-Orthodox but never imagined how different it was then the friends I had growing up.
This book was a lesson in Hassidic life. It was a lesson I was at odds with many times throughout the book. I’d like to think that I am very open-minded, especially when it comes to someone’s religious beliefs…I couldn’t help but feel so sad for a group of people who are taught that love isn’t important, and that everything is done out of obligation, such as marriage. Marriage isn’t about love but about procreation.
It was also very hard to discover that sexual molestation runs rampant in the Hassidic community and that the author, using a pseudonym, was, in effect, relating her personal story. The pervasive need to keep quiet about these things for fear of being ostracized…that would be the victim and his/her family that fear being ostracized. The predator, if in a position of power is usually moved to a different position of power. Yes, just like priests in the Catholic Church were in the past.
Ultimately, this was a very powerful read and I applaud the author for getting attention on the matter. I sincerely pray that all communities, religious or otherwise, will find the strength to punish these monsters rather than do the easy thing and turn a blind eye, for the children’s sake.
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Posted by Pam Steinke at 9:09 AM