Thursday, May 9, 2013

I Asked My Father to Go With Me To A Gadol

Erev Yom Kippur 2012:

I spent the last couple of days feeling so angry about the lack of justice in my situation...It always comes up at this time of year, around the chagim, when I miss my family the most.  I decided that this year, instead of stewing in anger and torturing myself, hating Hashem, the rabbonim, and the Torah, I am strong enough to go straight to the main cause of my anger.  My father. 

I called my house and my mother answered.  She told me my father was in shul and would be home in about an hour.  My mother was about to hang up.  She never stays on the phone very long with me.  I waited quietly to see if she would hang up and she didn't.  She asked if I was still there. I was. She asked me if I wanted to hear a mashal about how much Hashem loves us.  

She told me about a two year old at a Bar Mitzvah with a dirty diaper.  Someone changes him and hugs him and kisses him.  No one is upset with him about the smell.  That's how much Hashem loves us. 

The message I got?  Don't worry, even though you stink, Hashem still loves you. 

I called back an hour later.  This is what I said to my father after nineteen years:

Tomorrow is Yom Kippur.  You have a whole day to think about what you did.   Letting the family cut me off, and letting people think I'm crazy in order to protect your image and reputation is something I can only forgive you for when it stops.  Only afterwards Hashem can forgive you.  Neither of us are going to live forever.  You will have to deal with this in this world or the next. This is not going away. We are both mature adults.  Let's find a way to sort this out together.  I'm not dead and I am not going to disappear.  How are we going to resolve this?  You have at least equal responsibility to make peace. 

My father said, "If you want this to go any further talk to Rabbi Hopfer.

"I called you Tatty.  I want to talk to you."

 "I'm handing the phone to mommy."  
The conversation was over.

 He and my mother both betrayed me and abandoned me.  My entire family continues to betray me and abandon me every day.  This Yom Kippur I am asking Hashem for some justice.  Some peace.  Healing for my whole family.  

Chol Hamoed Succot 2012

Dear Tatty,

It's been19 years since we went on our last walk. I'm wondering what you remember of it.  Here is what I remember. 

 You told me that you heard that my therapist was convincing me of things that never happened. You wanted me to stop seeing her. You threatened to take my therapist to a bais din. You told me that you were the only one who really loved me and that if I wasn't paying the therapist she would throw me out in the street. You told me that I was headed down a dangerous path and that I was destroying my life. You offered to take me to speak with any gadol, or rav in the world. You seemed scared and upset.

I don't remember saying anything. I was surprised at your denial of the molestation. I didn't know how to respond and I wasn't ready to discuss it with you, nor with a gadol or rav.

 I didn't trust you or myself. I wanted so badly to go along with you, but I couldn't ignore the impact that the memories were having on me. 

They were so disturbing then, defrosting as flashbacks in my mind with an impact as fresh as the moment they happened. I was still in shock at the realization of what I was experiencing. I was afraid of you. I knew that you were far more powerful than I. My survival depended on you. 
That was the day I left home for good.

19 years of therapy and introspection later, I am finally ready to respond. I would like to connect with you in a way that is meaningful and respectful to us both. I would like to speak to someone with you as you offered so many years ago. A rav, a gadol, an arbitrator, a frum therapist. My goal has never been to hurt you and I would like to believe that neither is yours. Everything I have done that has caused you pain was, and still is, only in order to survive and to heal.

Tatty, I understand your need to deny the truth because I have the same need. You are my father. I am your daughter. Neither of us want this to be true.

I believe that with Hashem's help, we can together work through this and sort things out. Hopefully we will reduce the suffering and bring our family closer to peace and healing.

I respectfully ask that you come to Israel to meet with me together with one or two people of your choice, and one or two people of my choice. 

Thank you in advance for having the courage to take responsibility for your role in our problem and agreeing to participate in a respectful dialogue.



Dear Gnendy,

Thank you so much for your call and your letter.  It is my fervent tefillah that we should be a family again, a truly loving mishpacha.

You suggest that we meet together for "a program of healing and sharing responsibility", Gnendy, what purpose can there be in meeting together to "discuss what happened" as what you say "happened", never took place. 

If there is to be a relationship, which I am mispalel (praying) and waiting for, it should begin from now.  How are you and the children?  Mordechai must be coming close to Bar Mitzva.  As to mommy and me, we are sort of back in "shono reshona", (first year of marriage) it is usually the two of us except for Shabbos.

Hoping to hear from you.

With love,


Dear Tatty,

I can understand your desire to turn back the clock twenty-some years and have me go back to  pretending that nothing happened.  I too have a desire to have a relationship with you but I can't do it in the way you ask. 

Something did happen Tatty.  We both know I'm not crazy.

Something happened when a daughter and sister is cut off for years and treated as dead, and her parents refuse to acknowledge or discuss it.

Something happened when a daughter finds out third hand from an acquaintance that her grandmother died, because no one in her family bothered to tell her. 

Something happened when a sister has no idea which of her siblings is married, has children, and has no idea why she is wished "mazal tov on your brother" by virtual strangers on the street. 

Something happened when a family who believes themselves to be "loving"  cuts off a sister because she remembers being sexually abused in her family as a child, and needs to talk about it. 

Something happened
when these "untrue" memories affect her life in such real hurtful and damaging ways so many years after they "never" happened.  

Something happened when not one person in her "loving" family will discuss it or try to help her figure out what really did happen.

Something happened when a mother refuses an invitation to meet her grandchildren and plans to wait "until after mashiach comes"  to meet them.

Something happened when a rav's cruel advise to cut off a sister is accepted by a "frum" "loving" family as "da'as Torah."  

Something happened when a daughter suffers alone for years and not one family member can acknowledge her pain or reach out to her.

Something happened when a father can not admit his own fear of the past and wants to carry on pretending, as he always has, that nothing ever happened.

These are only some of the very hurtful things that I say happened and are still happening, Tatty.   

What do you say happened?  



  1. Open letter to Ganendy's Tatty

    Something doesn't make sense. Why would refuse to meet with your daughter to try to find out why she has these memories. Clearly these terrible memories have a source. The fact that so many years later you are still unable to sit down with your daughter, you still have not told your family to contact her - seems to imply that you are really uncomfortable and unable to do this. If as you say nothing happened what are you so scared about. Why are you unable to help you daughter have some closure - seems to me you have a deep dark secret that you really don't want discussed. Are you guilty as charged? If not, PROVE IT! PROVE IT LIKE ANY LOVING FATHER WOULD - if its untrue you would sit through these painful memories and help your daughter. You would not cast her out like a rounded animal to cope on her own.
    A friend of your Genendy.

    1. maybe an answer would be that he tried many times when she began to accuse him at age 19. why go back to what clearly did not work?

    2. Because that's not the answer. If you look at publicly published letters from him and other Rabbonim, he denied it and everyone else told her to just forget IT. There never were any tries to discuss and work it out.

    3. "Why go back to what clearly did not work"???

      Because she is CLEARLY in a different place now. that logic he should have given up on the ignoring her thing along time ago- b/c that is clearly not working for him or her or the rest of their broken family.

  2. Genendy,
    The letters are in the mail. Let us hope that it will bring out the Emes and therefore bring Shalom to all. May we continue to work on the refuah and brachos to all of klal yisroel. Have a Gut and Simchadike Yom Tov.