in the spirit of Tisha b’av
Oy, Faigy.
Another sister gone, lost to suicide.

They ask:
But WHY? Why did she die? (whose fault)
Was it mental illness?
Her family and community who shunned her
for leaving her Hassidic life?
Her Hassidic life itself, as she indicated in a letter?
Pressures of the tech sector?

I didn’t know you and I never will.
Your wry smile fills the interwebs and bespeaks layers of things you knew.
So many things I want to ask you now.
What is it like to grow up Hassidic? How different is it from what I know?
In some ways we have our religious practices in common… in other ways I feel like we never actually lived the same life.
You went from Belz to… secular? Traditional? Atheist? I don’t know. And I can’t ask.
While I grew up joyous and happy in my religion of origin (lite-yeshivish?) and continue to raise my children along those lines.
What did it feel like to be shunned? I can’t even imagine being shunned by family. To not have home to come back to? Every human being needs love and belonging. What torture. What isolation and shame. What sadness.
How did you learn English? When? How and when did you learn social media? How and when did you sort through what about your upbringing had value and what didn’t? It’s a process I continue to go through and I’m 40.
Did you know that people like me would have cared about you?
Did you know that people like me who are not Hassidic, and don’t plan to be, still find beauty and value in much of it?
Did you know that you could keep parts of it?
Family of Faigy, oy.
I understand your pain. To have a child leave the life you painstakingly tried to raise her in? That you believe in with all your heart and soul? What torture. What isolation and shame. What sadness.
I can’t judge you for shunning because I don’t know you and have never been you. I’ve been taught to never, ever shun a child no matter what, no matter how far afield their values have strayed from yours, no matter how bad, how evil, no matter how shameful or embarrassing. But maybe you weren’t guided that way.
I’ve been taught that the relationship is always the most important thing.
But I refuse to judge.
Not the mental illness or how it was handled.
Not the family or community of Faigy.
Not the tech sector.
Not Faigy, for leaving.
What this world needs in the aftermath of the loss of Faigy is ultimately what would have helped her in her life: more compassion, more tolerance, more acceptance. More seeing people who are really, really different from you in every way as humans. More bringing down barriers and opening conversations and getting past stereotypes of people who are religious Hassidic ultra secular goyim fanatics heretics.
More putting relationships first.
Faigy, I will do it for you.
For your memory.
For your soul.
Who’s in?