Saturday, March 26, 2011


Yesterday I finally got hold of a copy of Hush, which I've been hearing about lately in a very quiet way.  By Eishes Chayil (obviously a pseudonym -- it means "woman of valor" in Hebrew), it is a disturbing story written in a very personal way.  The narrator, Gittel, tells the story of her friend Devory through flashbacks and letters, and the tale is not a pleasant one. Among other things, it includes a tragic suicide.  Strictly speaking, it's a Young Adult novel, but I wouldn't necessarily recommend it as one.

This is the first piece of fiction written by an observant Jew that I have ever read which deals with molestation, abuse, and its cover-up in Hasidic society.  I have no way of ascertaining the validity of this account; the author evidently did not feel it was safe to give any clues to her identity or even the sect of Hasidim to which she belongs.  I do wonder how much of this is her personal experience; the reader does come away with the sense that the author has taken some risk in writing this.  I did not, however, have difficulty believing that such things happen, but perhaps I'm naive in thinking that most people do not behave quite as much like ostriches as she describes.  If you've read it, please post here -- I want to hear what you thought about it.


  1. I felt that Hush was an extremely depressing book and would not recommend it to anyone. To my mind, it does not serve any purpose in terms of stopping abuse from happening (what exactly am I going to do now that I've read this--hunt down the parties who are responsible? Try to convince the community not to cover up such things?) When I read a book, I want to escape to a good story, preferably one with a happy ending. This book was not a fun read. If I want to be depressed, I'll read the newspaper.

  2. I can't help but agree with you. Because this has been published in a secular forum (in any case, I don't see any judaic publisher taking this on) it probably won't change anything. As well, this was not a book to uplift the soul. I was so dreadfully depressed after reading it. Definitely not escapism, if that's what you're looking for.