Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Buy my memoir online!

https://store.bookbaby.com/book/The-Price-of-Truth1

Unkept Secrets

ONE TINY VOICE OF TRUTH IS MORE POWERFUL THAN A MILLION LYING VOICES." 
That is the thought that came to mind watching myself, and fellow warriors in the film "Unkept Secrets" this week at the Jerusalem Cinematheque.
 I hope it becomes very clear to Baltimore's Heinemann, Hopfer, Tendler, Weisboard and other's like them, that if you try to hide the truth about childhood sexual abuse by killing someone off, like you did to me, and breaking apart families, like you did to mine, not only will you fail miserably but in the end more people will know the very story that you tried desperately to deny, and the very person you desperately tried to silence and destroy, than you ever dreamed possible! 
The film is playing this Thursday, 7:00 pm at the Jerusalem Cinematheque.


 https://youtu.be/GhQ2lFYNFQE

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Reclaiming My Religion (from my memoir The Price of Truth )


Reclaiming my religion 

I have a membership at the local aquarium and I often walk over there on Shabbos. I have my card and don’t have to use money. I don’t like handling money on Shabbos. There is a religious injunction against using money on Shabbos, the Sabbath. And the truth is, I’m not so good at this “off the derech” thing – literally, “off the path”, a euphemism for being formerly-religious. My soul is too connected to Torah to just let it all go. No matter how far I try to run, it is a part of me, my identity, my soul. I know in my heart that this is just a stage in my journey toward healing.
I hear the squeak of the dumbwaiter as they pull up our dinner from the basement kitchen. My nose tells me that tonight I will be eating cornbread and lasagna. Tonight, I will eat dinner because it is not meat or chicken. Although I am officially off the derech, I still can’t bring myself to eat traif, non-kosher meat. I don’t know if I ever will. The cornbread is soft and moist, and the cheese in the lasagna melts, creamy on my tongue. When I leave the bathroom, I start to automatically recite asher yatzar, the blessing you make after using the bathroom. I quickly catch myself and remind myself that I am off the derech and not saying blessings.
Going off the derech is not simple for someone with my intensely religious background. But it is necessary. I think that religion should be a physical manifestation of our spirituality. Religion should be about our connection with a Higher Power. Unfortunately, I think that many times, the religion becomes more important than the connection with self and with God. That is when it begins to seem fanatical, oppressive, and stupid.
In my parents’ home, I always felt like religion was above protecting people’s feelings, or caring about them for that matter. God came first, before people or feelings. Damn it, I get so confused. How do I know what God really cares about? I don’t want to measure anything against what my family believes. I always felt separate from them. Like the real me didn’t exist among them spiritually or emotionally.
To sort this out I need to separate Torah from my family, and that means I am taking a break from it.
This is easier said than done. On Shabbos, I hear the lamed tes milachos song, a song about the 39 types of work that are forbidden on Shabbos. I taught my pre-one-A boys this song when I worked in the preschool. The song plays over and over in my head. I know every melacha, forbidden work, that I am violating intimately. After all, I taught them. I can’t get away from it.
And there is something else that, if I am honest with myself, I have to admit causes me crushing sadness. I miss Shabbos. I miss the family time, the sense of connection and belonging. As excruciating as sitting at the Shabbos table was, because of my misophonia, my phobia of eating and mouth noises that I struggle with since I was seven. I miss belonging to something.
 I wonder if God is angry with me for needing to leave religion for a while. And then I have an epiphany: I realize that God likely doesn’t mind. A loving God wants me to heal. A loving God wants a genuine relationship with me. God created man on Friday and only afterwards He created Shabbos. First man, then Shabbos. This proves to me that first you must be a person before you can bring religion into your life and serve God. You have to exist first in order to recognize God. Right now, I am learning to exist. I am just becoming a real person.
I share with a friend that I miss Shabbos, and she suggests that I contact an assistant rabbi in a nearby suburb who she knows to be open minded. We speak on the phone a few times and I explain my ambivalence about religion. Rabbi Fried listens and validates my conflict. He is warm and supportive. He assures me that there are many ways to be a religious Jew and that my family does not own the Torah or religion. He promises that his community and its culture, although Orthodox, is as different as night and day from my family.
After a few months of speaking on the phone, Rabbi Fried gently encourages me to join his congregation for the upcoming holiday of Rosh Hashana. It is an appropriate time to begin something new, he tells me. I go anxiously, and I am amazed to discover a brand-new kind of Jewish community that is diverse, and open minded, as well as committed to Torah and halakha. One main difference between this community and my family is that culturally they are completely American. No one here is obsessed with how people dress, how much Torah they learn, and what “yichus” – a well-connected family name – they have. No one judges anyone else religiously. We are all on a journey to come closer to God, we are all growing and learning. We are all different. Everyone is treated with equal respect regardless of their job title, how much money they have, or their gender.
I encounter many warm and wonderful families of religious Jews who are not afraid of the real world, and are in fact an active and empowered part of it. My jeans and shorts don’t bother them. The people who wouldn’t dress this way assume I have my legitimate reasons. In fact, one of my new friends takes off his black hat when he sees me because he knows the sight of it makes me queasy. The Torah is not his hat. He is not his hat.
This community is diverse. All the way from black hat and wig, to shorts and no hair covering. Some of the members don’t look so Jewish on the outside, but the prayers they say, the Torah they read, the Shabbos they keep is the same one I am familiar with. It is a perfect bridge for me between two worlds and I am so grateful to have found somewhere I can belong spiritually.

Sunday, March 3, 2019

About that Child Molester who Ties Tzitzis* in Jail...


There is a guy sitting in prison right now for molesting his daughter, tying tzitzis and selling them to, um, guess who? Apparently, us!
A friend asked me what we are going to do about this. How can we allow this to continue?! Who wants their husbands and sons wearing these horrible tzitzis?

I am going to think out loud about this for a moment.
You may think I'm crazy, but I think its great that this guy is sitting in prison for molesting his daughter tying tzitzis. I actually think it should be the image of teshuvah for our generation. I really like this idea! If it was a rabbi who told this man to tie tzitzis in prison, I applaud him.

If you are a guy wearing tzitzis, you should be aware of why you are wearing them, and why tzitzis hang down around your sexual organs. My understanding is that the mitzvah of tzitzit is to remind Jewish males why they have a body and a sexuality in the first place, and what its mission is in their lives. Whether you are wearing tzitzis, or not, and if you are using your sexuality on a regular basis for personal gratification, for hurting others, or disconnecting from healthy relationships, then, yeah, maybe you should be sitting in jail tying tzitzis as a tikkun. Because the fact is, emotionally, psychologically and spiritually, you ALREADY ARE in jail if you are molesting someone, or using your sexuality in any way that violates another, or even yourself and your integrity. And yes, I am fully aware that some sexual deviances are obviously worse than others, and some prisons are obviously worse than others.

So guys, when and if you put on your tzitzis, remember that they are part of Judaism's great message of mindfulness, and sexual health. They actually might have been tied by a guy sitting in prison for molesting his daughter, and if nothing else that should be a powerful reminder of what your tzitzis are for, and what we need to work on as a society and a community.

Here's the thing; I suggest that instead of focusing on the guy in prison tying tzitzis, we think about how we use our own sexualitity.  We all need to focus on working towards using this powerful gift  for connection, for holiness, to bring us closer to our spouses and to ourselves, and of course, to our Creator who put us here with specific instructions about what to do and not do with our sexuality.

...Call me crazy, but that is just my two cents.

*A four cornered religious garment worn by Orthodox Jewish males.

Monday, February 25, 2019

The Younger Part

I'm standing alone on a small hill near my home.
The cool morning wind washes over my skin and fills my lungs. The sun is just peeking
over the surrounding hills, and my large white furry dog is sitting alert at my side. My
terrier, Lucky, leaps like a small brown rabbit, through the dense green growth, the grey,
black, and yellow speckled rocks, spotted with pink cyclamen, red anemone, and purple,
pink, white and yellow wild flowers of Israel whose names I haven't yet learned.

This is where I go almost every morning to pray, meditate, and expand my consciousness
by connecting to the source of this magnificent beauty. I am convinced that this hill was
put here just for me. I feel safe and held here by a higher Being of love and truth. My mind
and heart open and join with every other being alive on this complex planet of ours. I
overflow with gratitude, joy, and often almost in the same moment, with tears of pain and
sadness for so, so many of us who are suffering, confused and in pain.

This hill, my hill, is where I expose my soul to my Creator, and put in my request for the
kind of day I want to have. I express deep gratitude for the power of free will. For the
choice of how to start my day. For the power to choose my thoughts and desires. I have
experienced how powerful my thoughts are when I harness and focus them.

D'jango's white ears go back suddenly, and his nose shifts and points to a tiny dot in the
distance. Perhaps a deer, or a jackel, I think. Lucky has stopped leaping and is also
staring at the same tiny dot, which is now moving closer. I can hear now, what alerted
them; a faint haunting wail, the cry of a wounded animal. I wait for D'jango and Lucky to
bark, but they sit by my side silent, alert, watching the dot move toward us. Perhaps it is a
cat. Cats can sound so human.

I can see now that it is not an animal, but a person, running, straight towards us.
Sometimes I encounter other people out here on my hill. There are the regulars: a teenage
boy who come here to walk his dog almost every morning, and the man with the tallis bag
over his shoulder who walks quickly by me to his hill, or his tree, in the distance, to pray.
There are Arab laborers building houses nearby, who sometimes come up on the hill as
well.

This person is none of the regulars. As she approaches I can see now that it is a child, a
girl, in a torn dirty dress. and she is running, wailing, right at me. Her face is twisted in
terror and she is racing forward over the rocks and bushes, faster than seems possible on
the uneven ground. She doesn't seem to see me, or my dogs, and she doesn't slow down.

I cry out in pain as her head cracks against my pelvis and we both fall to the ground. I feel
my head hit a rock and I try not to cry out again, aware that I could easily have cracked my
head open. As I gasp for breath, I feel the child's nails clawing painfully at my arms,
grabbing, digging into me. She is still screaming, and I wonder at how she can run and
scream at the same time. I can't move or breathe well, and I am flat on my back with the
child on top of me.

Even as I recognize her, I let myself think for a second that she must belong to the
Bedouin family who graze their sheep on the other side of my hill in the spring and
summer. I have never seen a child this terrified I think, and then I admit to myself that, no, actually,
I have. I know this child and I have seen her before many times, although it is hard to
admit. I sit up carefully, and hold her, trying to ignore the pain, trying to breathe, and
process the agony in my pelvis, and the agonized desperate child in my arms. Her hair is
matted and her dressed, streaked with dried blood, is so old and worn I can barely see
what color it once was. My maternal instinct kicks in and I hold her small rigid body close
and try to calm her.
"Sh...sh...sh...sh...sh..." I rock her, and I make the soothing noise all mothers make when
trying to calm a screaming, hysterical baby.
She continues to cry and wail and claw. She doesn't seem to see me. She won't release her
grip on my forearms.

We sit there on the ground together, for the next few hours. It takes her that long to calm
down, to stop screaming and focus her eyes. I try to breathe, and stay with her in her pain,
to breathe through my own pain as I did in childbirth, and to remind myself how much
patience it takes to help children who are this badly hurt and scared.
I have done it before and I can do it again. I have been blessed with a special strength just
for these moments.

When she finally begins to quiet down, I tell her that I understand why she ran to me now.
I know it is because of the book I just published about her.
Precious, beautiful child,you can finally, really, trust me. I wrote down your story in a
book that people are reading now. You are not dead, little girl, even though your family
and their rabbis tried with all of their might to make you and your story die and disappear.
You can stop running now, because you are finally here in the present, together with me.
You do exist, and you will always exist, long after we are both gone, because there is a
book documenting what happened to you. You matter! What you went through matters! I
will hold you and protect you forever. You are here for a reason. Your story is a gift of
healing to the world.

It takes time for her to calm down enough to hear me, and to relax. It seems like days
before we can get up and hobble home together. She lets me clean her up and hold her, and
show her how beautiful and safe the world is now.
She goes everywhere with me. Sometimes still clinging, but more often than not, looking
curiously out from the safety of my arms, and engaging with her new safe reality of
existence and purpose.

We are fortunate to have recovered from our experience. Sometimes we still need to cry
together for all of the loss. We have both healed, but the scars are still visible and may
always be there. Faint marks on my arms, a slight pain in my pelvis when I move the
wrong way, and invisible scars on my heart and soul,
that remind me what it felt like to be her.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

My Parents

 I think about my mother.  I love her and miss her.  I wonder what it is like for her to have a daughter that remembers and must talk about being abused by her father and husband, and to desperately need to keep that secret. 

 I wonder what it is like to have a daughter you are sure betrayed you over and over again every time she speaks about it. I hope I never know.  It must be so painful.  I wonder what it is like to have lost a daughter. It can't be easy. It is probably harder than losing a mother.   

  I think about my father, and I wonder what it must be like to live with the knowledge that you destroyed a family, and so many innocent children.  I don't envy him, his life today, and what awaits him. If I had to choose, I think I would rather be a victim than a perpetraitor any day. I have faith that truth and love will win in the end. 

Justice is the reality that I am publishing my story. Justice is my healing.  I wonder if my father will ever admit to his mistakes and take responsibility.  Probably not. I pray for him, that he repent and change his ways in this world.  I don't want him, or anyone to suffer eternal hell.  There has been enough suffering.  It is time for healing and redemption.  

Sunday, February 10, 2019

An Endorsement for The Price of Truth by two Trauma Therapists

Genendy, through enormous courage to write her story, has provided a platform to share in, what often times, is an isolated and secretive world. By creating a community of validation and support, she offers a path of healing for survivors of sexual abuse. Her honest authenticity, exposes the tumultuous whirlwind of pain and suffering felt by survivors at the hands of seemingly close, trusted and respected members of their own family. Genendy, has written a groundbreaking book, which makes a tremendous contribution to survivors and professionals alike. 


Rachel Ackerman, MSW

Joan B. Kristall, MSW

Friday, February 8, 2019

The night I finished the manuscript, I had a dream that the words of my book in gold letters flew down from the great beyond, where they had until now been only an idea, ...a dream, ...a story not yet told... In my dream I watched the gold letters fly down and settle in the blank pages of an empty book, filling them with my writing. I awoke with a clarity that I have God's blessing. My book is finished, and will be allowed to manifest in this world as a physical reality.  I was reassured that it will be for a blessing and for good.  

When I have doubts, I remind myself of this dream.

 Yaakov hid his daughter Dena in a box so that Eisav wouldn't see her.  He hid his most vulnerable and beautiful family member from the evil eye of his brother. 

 Our sages tell us that Yaakov made a mistake.  Dena had a soul with the power to transform Eisav.  If Eisav would have seen her he would have changed because of her goodness and beauty, and Mashiach, world redemption, would have come in that moment.  

It is a huge risk to expose the most vulnerable and authentic parts of ourselves.  But these are the very parts of us that are transformational for ourselves and for others. 

 By sharing my story I am allowing myself to be seen and vulnerable. And although it is so scary, I pray that God will protect me. 

 My hope is that it will be transformational.



Monday, February 4, 2019

Endorsements for my memoir by Rabbi Blau and Dr. Miriam Adahan

“The Price of Truth” is extremely powerful, simultaneously disturbing and inspiring.  It should be required reading for anyone who wants to understand the struggle of an abused child to confront incest and  to function normally.   The author describes what it meant to grow up without any support from her family and her religious community.  Yet this not an attack on Judaism.  Genendy emerged a committed observant Jew an educator dedicated to transform her community in confronting abuse.  It is also a love story proving that one can survive abuse and live a meaningful spiritual existence.
Rabbi Yosef Blau, spiritual supervisor of RIETS, Yeshiva University, and president of the Religious Zionists of America


It took great courage for Genendy to write this wonderful book. Her insights will help the many abuse victims to overcome the shame and emotional paralysis that plagues them. It is the abusers who should feel ashamed; but abusers don’t experience shame; they are too busy making up excuses, lying accusing their victims of being crazy and “imagining things.” Thus, the victims tend to carry all the trauma and scars on their own and are often vilified, rejected and ostracized by those who either refuse to acknowledge that abuse exists or who seek to cover up their own crimes. May this book be a healing for those who have suffered.
Dr. Miriam Adahan, author, psychologist, and founder of EMETT ("Emotional Maturity Established Through Torah")   


Thursday, January 24, 2019

Sometimes You Have to Walk Away...

After years of living with his evil uncle Lavan (Lavan means "white"), Yaakov still manages to hang on to truth, goodness, kindness, and his faith.  Lavan is a trickster, passing himself off as clean and "white."  He treats Yaakov as shameful and wrong, when Lavan is actually dishonest and abusive to his nephew.  It is so hard to hang on to truth in the face of denial.  Especially when a family member is abusive.  How did Yaakov do it for so long, I wonder?  His courage gives me strength.

We can't change an abuser, and we are not meant to.  Yaakov could not change Lavan, even with all the years he lived with him, and all the power of truth, faith, and goodness.  When we are dealing with an abuser we have to face the reality that if they are not open to change, we can not change them, and eventually we must part ways.  We must leave and not look back.  It is hard, and painful to leave. We have roots.  We wish things could be different. It causes rifts in the family. But it is part of truth's mission. You can not change an abuser!

As my book is about to be published I resonate deeply with the sentence in the Torah Where Yaakov is about to enter Eisav's territory and confront Eisav head on.  Yaakov is humbled by all of the kindness and truth God has shown him, in helping him cross the river (of life) safely.  Then Yaakov begs, "Please, save me from my brother!"   I am humbled by the kindness and truth that God has shown me.  I am amazed and so grateful to be in a place I never imagined existed.  A place of love and safety.  A place of empowerment.  But now I am going out on a limb, by publishing my story, and I am about to confront my brother, eleven siblings actually, and perhaps their wives, husbands, and children too, who already resent me and feel I am stealing something from them by my very existence. It feels dangerous, scary, and painful. 

 I have prayed for years that I do God's will and nothing else. I have asked God to prevent me from publishing my book if it is not His will, and if it will not ultimately bring goodness and healing to this world.  My goal is to bring light, hope, and healing to a broken and hurting world.  A world that is suffering.  There are so many children and adults who have been through similar experiences to mine and who desperately need healing.  There are so many survivors who need to know that they have a voice and they are not alone.  They need to hear my story so that they know that healing is possible!

 I run a peer led support group for women survivors of severe trauma.  Connection with others who have been through abuse is so important!  Fellow survivors, you are not alone!  You have a voice that is important and deserves to be heard.  Your suffering has meaning and purpose, even if you can't comprehend what it is right now.  The world cannot exist without you...And the proof is that you are alive!  Each breath that you take has value and meaning.  God does not create anyone extra.  All of who you are, with all of your humanity, limitations, strengths, and faults, is vital to this moment in time.  
Never give up hope!

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Rav Pam and the Rabbi/ Psychologist

I am twenty-two. My childhood friend Sara, who I babysat with when I worked my first job as a ten year old, is now married and living in Brooklyn.
 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.
Ouch.

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.



Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Denial

Denial is powerful and evil.  We all have it to a degree.  Denial is what allows us to ignore the existence of our divine soul, and therefore the divinity of another human being.  Denial is what allows us to ignore who we are and what we are.  Denial is what allows us to treat ourselves and others badly.  It is what allows abuse to happen and continue to happen.

When I think of  Denial and Truth, I think of Yaakov and Eisav, the polar opposite twins in the Torah. The brothers  were born with a mission. Eisav's mission was to overcome his tendancy toward the physical, dark forces.  Yaakov's mission was to support Eisav in transforming darkness into light and overcoming these tendancies.  We are all Yaakov.  We are all Eisav.  Yaakov is truth.  Eisav is the denial of truth.  Eisav could not accept his mission.  He wanted Yaakov's blessing (and mission), not his own.  Instead of accepting his own reality he resented and hated his brother. Accepting the mission we were given is key.

 I know what my mission is. I have to publish my book and tell my story as painful as it will be for my family.  Will my siblings accept this reality, or hate and resent me for it?  Will they want to kill me?

  Denial is a strange and powerful beast. Denial hates truth, and those who represent it. It takes a special kind of courage to overcome denial.  To accept reality.  To transform and transcend.  It requires focusing on self and not other.  It requires an acceptance of the reality of the other, no matter how limited, and the clarity that we each have a different and unique mission on this earth. 

Saturday, January 5, 2019

My Upcoming Memoir Publication

 I'm thinking about my upcoming book publication with excitement, dread and with hope.  Sharing my story with the public is something I have needed to do for twenty five years.  And now, it is finally almost a reality. 

Publishing The Price of Truth feels like a mission, a responsibility, a relief and a risk.  I was given a difficult mission.  The fact that I am here today is a miracle. The purpose of my memoir is to offer healing.  To hand my story over to others to hold with me is a relief.  It is a story to big and heavy to hold on my own. The risk is in facing the denial I'm sure it will trigger in many who are not ready to hear it.

I spoke to a Rabbi recently about the publication of my book.  He read my manuscript and told me it is an important book, but suggested I change the setting to another country in another time, in order to hide the identity of my family, and community.  He told me he believed my story, but thinks that the average (religious) person might not believe my story because I was so young when I was abused.  And because of cognitive dissonance.  

I can't change the story.  It is a true story. The time is now.  The setting is here. The people are us.  This is the story of our families, our community today.  It is our challange to own our story, as painful as it is, and allow it to transform us in a positive way.