When she was 18, her parents introduced her to the man that she would marry. She has suffered from his abuse since. Now, she's blowing the whistle on some of the ridiculously abusive, harmful and abhorrent practices of some ultra Orthodox communities. Many people in Orthodox circles have been shunning her both publicly and privately, dismissing her as just an angry woman who doesn't care about her kids or have their best interest at heart. A man who wasn’t even from Pearl’s Satmer community attempted a "shame on you, Pearl". This is incredibly disturbing. How in the world can a self-proclaimed "Jewish brother" tell a woman, who has suffered at the hands of her husband and been harassed and abused by rabbinical authority, that she should be ashamed of herself for simply telling the truth. By shaming the people who have the chutzpah to expose evil, one only condones the evil and will stand on the wrong side of history.
With all the exposure of abuse, sexual abuse and violence in other extreme fundamentalist religions, it's no shocker that people in these communities are similarly harmed. What's happening now — what inspires me every day are people like Pearl Perry Reich taking bold and brave stances. She is trying to put an end end to the silence, a deafening silence that destroys the lives of so many people who are forced into marriages without any choice. Just as even the mainstream Orthodox community has shunned the extremists in Israel for spitting on little girls that weren't dressed according to their standards of modesty, we should do everything we can to make sure that diversity is tolerated and that such practices are stopped before others are hurt.
While some people lambasted her and attempted to shame her for being truthful about her experiences, others took issue for her still bringing up her children in a community whose beliefs she does not share. Given her circumstance, she should not be judged for doing what she believes is in children’s best interest. By denying her a real divorce, the rabbis are only continuing to enslave her and her children to uphold their standards, or suffer serious consequences.
Over my dead body would I ever send my kids to the school I attended — a school that didn't teach us even the basic skills of reading, writing, spelling, math, science or history. Bible related study was the only education I had until I was 17. If I were a parent, I would do everything in my power to make sure that my kids had a better upbringing than I did.
Pearl should have the right as a mother to provide her kids with a richer, fuller life — a life in which they are not segregated from the opposite sex, deprived of basic education, sheltered from the outside world in every sense of the word. No "secular" books, no TV, no non-Jewish music and definitely no friends that do not share the beliefs of the Satmer. That’s the life she had, and, at the tender young age of 18, she was forced to marry someone that she hardly knew and now cannot get a divorce from her abusive husband.