Losing her religion - and her children
A rabbinical court granted 'Ayala's' husband custody when she lost her faith. One woman's struggle against the religious system.
Curiosity is a celebrated trait among the secular, but is considered dangerous in the ultra-Orthodox world. And God, if he exists, is Ayala’s witness that she possesses plenty of it. According to her husband, a pious yeshiva student, that curiosity is the mother of all sins. It is the reason he is demanding that Ayala be forbidden to see her six children − so as to ensure that she will not transmit even an iota of her inquisitive nature to them.
For close to a year, she has been waging a battle in a rabbinical court to get her children back. Because all the cases in rabbinical courts are heard in camera, Ayala has to use an assumed name for this interview. She is a beautiful woman, smiling, energetic and warm. It’s hard to imagine her stuffed into a wig, obedient and prudish. But everyone who knows Ayala is used to seeing her shift between the exterior codes: when she meets with her children, she dons the guise of a Haredi woman.
Her story begins in the usual way for a girl growing up in a Haredi home: schooling in a branch of the Beit Yaakov educational network for Haredi girls and an arranged marriage at the age of 18 to a yeshiva student from one of the extreme sects of the Sephardi segment of the Eda Haharedit. His occupation: Torah study 14 hours a day, from 9 in the morning until 11 at night. Their first child, a boy, was born nine months after the wedding, followed by five other children at approximately 18-month intervals.
And more in the article. Please note this rabbinical court is an official organ of the government of Israel. It is not an aberration.