August 9, 2021 Chapter 29
It took days for the shock at how messily things had exploded to wear off enough for us to be able to talk. “Please,” he begged, as if there was one solution. “Shloimele is two. When are we going to have another baby?” Another baby would put us back on track; I understood his feeling that therein lay the secret to normalcy, I understood that he could not, as I did, accept that this would simply have to be a more difficult marriage than we had hoped, if the outer workings of our relationship blatantly refuted that. But I also knew that another pregnancy would amplify my side of the problem tenfold. I found solace in hoping for better for my children, but how would I give them that if I couldn’t even plan the pregnancies when I was ready, never mind plan their lives once they were alive? “Let’s move to Monsey,” I said. “Let’s compromise and raise our family in a more liberal branch of orthodoxy.” Monsey is a community in Rockland County, about 30 miles south of Kiryas Joel, with a flourishing orthodox community. All sects of ultra-Orthodox Jews settle there, mixing comfortably, exposing their families to degrees of stringency from modern orthodox families that date for marriage and adopt many American traditions to Ultra-Hasidic who are as stringent as we are in Kiryas Joel. In Monsey, there are so many religious institutions and yeshivas, I thought we were bound to find our place among one of them. Of course, my parents would never, ever, in a million years consider this a viable option, and neither would his. To our parents, Monsey and the shtetl were the difference between the real deal and an imitation. To them Monsey was simply the very top of that slide called the slippery slope, from where we would take liberties that would, in no time, explode in scandal and sin that would shake the village world.