June 15, 2024
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Navigating Divorce, Strengthening Bonds and Rekindling Hope in Our Jewish Community

As I am sure many of you have been experiencing over the past two weeks, I have an unshakable feeling that our lives are now forever divided into two time periods. There was the time before Simchat Torah, and now, where we are living in the nightmare of our new reality. There was normal, everyday life, and now, where there is only tumult of living with the unthinkable and tragic loss of 1,300 of our brothers and sisters. There was the notion of acceptance of the Jew in the global world, and now there is the feeling of despair and abandonment from those who we believed were some of our closest friends and neighbors.

To be frank, I struggled to put pen to paper this week. In the shroud of such extreme hardship and suffering in Israel, it feels almost too trivial to discuss case law, asset division or custody disputes. But as I turned my reflection inward, contemplating ways in which I have witnessed how divorce truly impacts my clients in the frum community in unique and significant ways, the words and emotions began to flow.

When we think about the individuals who struggle through divorce every day, it reminds us of the silent battles fought by members of our community. Divorce is not just a legal process; it’s a life-altering experience that often brings an overwhelming sense of loss and uncertainty. For those going through it, every day can be a struggle. There are single parents who don’t have a Shabbat meal, fathers who miss having their sons next to them in shul, and divorcees who feel like they are on shaky financial ground, unsure of how they will afford a lulav and etrog, let alone the mounting costs of yeshiva tuition.

The emotional impact of divorce can truly be profound. Feelings of grief, anger, guilt and loneliness can be a daily battle. Coping with the loss of the marriage, adjusting to a new family dynamic, and explaining the situation to children are all emotionally draining and result in a traumatic experience for all involved.

Divorce can also lead to a sense of social isolation, especially in the Jewish community where the nuclear family unit is regarded as sacrosanct. Friends and family may take sides, or relationships may change, leaving divorcees feeling lonely and disconnected from their former support systems.

In times of division, be it on a global scale or within the personal realm of divorce, it is essential to recognize the pain and difficulties that many in our community endure. The emotional turmoil, the shattered dreams and the feelings of isolation can be overwhelming. Just as we seek unity and hope in the face of our broader challenges, let us also extend our compassion and support to those experiencing the trials of divorce.

As we cry for our brothers and sisters in Israel, we must remember the brothers and sisters also crying in our own backyard. In this era of unspeakable horrors, just as we seek unity and hope in the face of our broader challenges, we should also extend our compassion and support to those experiencing the trials of divorce.

Resilience, the cornerstone of hope, is a quality that Am Yisroel has demonstrated throughout history. Despite the divisions and difficulties, our community has shown an unwavering spirit and the ability to endure. It is through this resilience and the support of one another that we can find the path to healing.

As we navigate these impossible times, we need to remember what makes us so quintessentially Jewish; unity, empathy and unwavering emunah are essential in finding hope and healing, whether we are facing profound challenges as a community or as individuals experiencing the trials of any hardship, including divorce.

Eliana T. Baer is a partner in the family law practice group of Fox Rothschild LLP, representing clients statewide in divorce, asset distribution, support, custody, domestic violence, premarital agreements and appellate practice. Baer has been selected to the Best Lawyers in America (2024), Super Lawyers—Rising Stars (2014-2023), New Leaders to the Bar by the New Jersey Law Journal (2018), “Top 10 Under 40” list by the National Academy of Family Law Attorneys (2017), and “Trailblazers” list in Divorce Law (2016).* Baer appears in both civil and rabbinical court. You can reach her at (609) 895-3344, or [email protected].

*Award methodology available at https://www.foxrothschild.com/eliana-baer/honors-awards.

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