Hush by Eishes Chayil is a novel for young adults about sexual abuse in the Hassidic community of Boro Park. The story is told from the point of view of Gittel who – as a child – witnessed her best friend being abused. The narrative goes back and forth between the child-Gittel and the teenager who is about to get married.
This novel is quite subtle in that it is not a downright criticism of ultra-Orthodox Judaism but of the cover-up of such stories. Thus the guilty brother is sent to Israel and the narrator is prevented from testifying by her own mother. The narrator’s father is a complex character who obviously loves his daughter but fails to help her when she most needs it.
It is a powerful novel and one which stays with you for a long time after you have read the last page.
More thorough reviews:
– Rabbi Fink’s review
– Velveteen Rabbi’s review
A very poignant post: A Note From a Victim of Abuse
It does sound like a difficult topic. Unfortunately, even though it is a novel, it is probably based on some fictionalized version of truth.
When we heard Dr. Pelcovitz speak a few years ago about sexual abuse, he said the biggest problem in the right wing Orthodox communities is the inability to have discussions about the problem and denial. With abuse of children, there is the issue of lack of instinct – natural instinct has been squelched.
You are right: the novel is based on true facts.
Thank you for sharing Dr. Pelcovitz’s insight; I would not have thought of the lack of natural instinct.
I tried to get a review copy but the agent ignored my letter.
I got my copy from Amazon and you can order it from “The Book Depository”; they ship for free.
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