She invites me to spend Shabbos with her and her husband. I explain to her that I'm not so religious, and I tell her why. She listens quietly and then she says, she doesn't mind. I can come to her dressed however I feel comfortable. I show up to Sara's house in jeans, but Sara and her husband don't judge me, and I change into a skirt for Shabbos.
Sara's father-in-law is a close desciple of one of the most revered rabbis of our generation, Rav Pam. I ask Sara to ask her father-in-law, to set up an appointment for me to speak with Rav Pam. He is known as a gadol, a leader of our generation. If he is a leader, let him lead me. Maybe he can help me figure my life out. Maybe he can help me deal with my father.
I'm disappointed when Sara's father-in-law says that it's impossible to get an appointment. Rav Pam is getting older and very busy. Appointments are scheduled months in advance.
On Sunday, before I head back home, I call Savta, who lives in the neighborhood. Maybe she wants to see me. Maybe, just maybe, she will support me. That is a far stretch, but I want to tell her about Tatty, to see her reaction. I remember Tatty telling me that she used to slap him, and hold his nose and force feed him. I hold her somewhat responsible for how he turned out.
"I heard that you left home." Savta says, her voice pained, "Tatty needs you at home. You're his best girl. I'll give you anything if you go back home! What can I give you? A diamond ring? A car?"
"Savta, I can't live at home." I try to say it gently. "Tatty molested me when I was little. I'm really not doing well. I can't stay there anymore."
Savta begins to wail, "Tatty?! No! He needs you! You're his best girl! He's a tzaddik, a tzaddik! Go back home! I can't talk to you." She hangs up the phone.
I look up Rav Pam's phone number in the local phone book, and call his home. His wife answers. I explain a little about my situation and ask her if I can speak with her husband. Yes, she says. Come over at ten, in half an hour. So much for appointments. I go over in my jeans.
Rav Pam is a tiny man with a white beard, and a sweet, kind face. He asks me where I'm from and where I went to high school. I tell him. He looks at me kindly,
"What is a good Bais Yaakov girl doing dressed like this?" He asks. His question is kind, without judgement.
"I'm not good, and I'm not a Bais Yaakov girl," I respond, my eyes on his desk.
I tell Rav Pam about Tatty and Zaidy. He tells me there is a rabbi in my community who is also a psychologist. "Speak with him. He will help you."
The person Rav Pam is advising me to speak with is one of the first people I turned to and I already know it is a dead end.
A rabbi who is also a psychologist sounded like someone who might actually be able to help.
I met with him and asked him if it is considered lashon hara, evil gossip, to speak about what my father did to me. I told him that I don't know if my father was still abusing children. I hoped he wasn't, but it was possible. The rabbi/psychologist told me that the only person I should be speaking to about my memories is my therapist, otherwise it would be lashon hara. He also offered to connect me to a woman in his community who he said would support me in my healing process.
Did he believe me? I don't know.
Did he do anything to ty to protect the future generations of children my father would continue to molest, ...some who weren't even born yet at the time we met?
Standing in front of Rav Pam, disappointment squeezes my chest and rises into my throat.
"I don't think he can help me. I already spoke with him. He is a friend of my father."
It is difficult to speak. I am so alone.