Leah Vincent

Leah Vincent is a writer and activist. A graduate of the Harvard Kennedy School, she has written for the Huffington Post, Unpious and the Jewish Daily Forward and is an advocate for the empowerment of former ultra-Orthodox Jews seeking a self-determined life. Her memoir, “Cut Me Loose: Sin and Salvation After My Ultra-Orthodox Girlhood,” will be published by Nan A. Talese/Doubleday in January 2014.

Shira Mechanic, "Encaged," mixed media

Life and Action

The Post-Ultra-Orthodox Death Prophecy

On Friday, September 27, Deb Tambor, a young mother with bright eyes and deep dimples, killed herself. Deb was a member of the same circle of former ultra-Orthodox Jews that I belong to. Her death, at 33, is sending shockwaves through my community, a sharp reminder of the suffering some of us must endure. Deb went through a brutal custody battle because she rejected ultra-Orthodoxy. Her former community banded together to destroy her children’s relationships with her, using legal muscle, bullying, and religiously fueled indoctrination to reduce her contact with her three children to only one supervised visit a month.

Many have already responded eloquently to Deb’s death with an outcry against the abominably corrupt custody processes that so many former ultra-Orthodox Jews are trapped in, something I care about deeply. Today, though, I’m moved to talk about something else, something more personal for me.

My deepest reaction to this tragedy is not as an activist, but as a fellow former ultra-Orthodox Jew, reminded that so many of us, while moving forward in our lives, are pulled back by a siren call of death.

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