Libby Pollak: A Star is Born — And With It A Revival of Hasidic Yiddish

Libby Pollak is no ordinary woman. Three years ago she was a newly hitched young veibele in Williamsburg, lost in the shuffle of thousands of Ultra-hasidic couples who get married and settle there annually. Now her star is rapidly rising with hordes of followers from the Hasidic community devouring with relish every word she utters on her various online forums, including her flagship self-titled Facebook Page .

Her string of media exposure culminated several weeks ago with a return to the non-judgemental all-accepting Chulent that incubated her and set her out on a course of liberty and exploration several years prior. She lectured on the topic of obscure Yiddish idioms and witticisms. See video of the after-event.

In a typical Facebook Post last month, she posted a photo of herself wearing a beaver hat and quipped (in Yiddish): For those who wonder what hat the Rebbe wears on the holy head, here you have the tall beaver hat; and from this hat of sorcery I draw forth my sophisms. A familiarity with Hasidic Yiddish culture is necessary in order to get the humor, as evidenced by her fans and followers who gave her 21 “likes” for the post.

In another recent post, Libby shows off her variegated fingernails and remarks: Every color, after every son of the evil Haman.

Libby’s allure lies in her knack for weaving in Yiddish aphorisms and lore into workaday life. She always has some witty Yiddish idiom or Talmudic adage to share. The fact that she’s a single woman and of diminutive stature only adds to the bemusing quaintness of it all. Is it possible that such a young, ostensibly docile girl would be so conversant in Rabbinic sayings? Is it conceivable that she has actually pulled herself up by her boots, outfoxed her detractors and trailblazed a new path in her life and in the lives of everyone on the Hasidic fringe — all in the course of a year or two?

Her journey started at the ripe young age of six when she one day “discovered poetry”. Her mother encouraged her to cultivate her flair for poetry, bragged about her to her sisters and extended family members who then commissioned the young girl to write poetry for them. In later years the school recruited her for all sorts of writing projects: creative writing, yearbook editor, weekly newspaper and lyrics for camp songs. She was even elected GO president and color war captain, at different points in time. “I was known as the poet”, she recalls.

In her Vizhnitz elementary school in Williamsburg she had relative freedom to pursue her talents, directing skits and plays and helping out with choirs. For high school, however, Libby wanted a better school and so she was sent to the Belz girl school in Borough Park, then under the principalship of the wife of Rabbi Hayyim Leib Katz, Satmar-Zalman Dayyan in Borough Park. “Vien [in Williamsburg] was considered too modern to my mom.”

But as fate would have it, the Borough Park school wasn’t at all liberating. The principal attempted to establish new strictures such as the requirement that pupils wear stockings WITH seams as prevalent in Satmar. Singing was banned, there were no extracurricular activities and the distance between pupil and staff widened. Libby was taught that wearing a heart necklace is equivalent to giluy arayoth (incest) and any form of sheitel (wig) –even the shpitzel— is a grave transgression. Only complete removal of anything that even looks like hair is acceptable apparel for a married Jewish  woman, she was taught.

To Libby Pollak’s creative and free-ranging mind, conditions at the school were stifling. “I hated school; it felt like a prison to me. I used to get heart palpitations. My stomach was literally turning once when I went back to retrieve something years after graduation.” It’s not that her academic credentials and artistic talent went unnoticed; they, rather, refused as a matter of principle to allow her an expressive outlet.

Ms. Pollak on her recent Passover vacation to Florida

After high school, about half of Libby’s class took on elementary school teaching jobs in the community. The pay was a meager $125 per week (hours were about 3.5 per day for 4.5 days) which was sometimes paid partially in the form of food vouchers, and the job grueling. Why do it then? “They teach only for the shidduch (match)”, Libby explains.

Eager to chart out an alternative course Libby opted for an office job with the newly emerging Satmar-Aaron bureaucracy at 76 Rutledge St. It was a 9-5 job for which she was paid $265 per week, half of it in food vouchers (USDA food stamps?). But she did not find her place there. Girls were admonishing her not to utter even a single word –such as imma (mom)– of the unclean language “Ivrit”. Their ameratzus (ignorance) was revoltingly glaring, such as misquoting the verse in Proverbs 9:1 “the wisdom of a woman builds a house”, as hokhmas binah banethah (wisdom of understanding builds…).

One year after graduating from school, Libby was pushed into an engagement she detested. “He was an exceptional loser, chain-smoking, very controlling –he demanded I cut off contact with my family. He called me all day that he was depressed”. When she complained to her family about it, they advised her that “love follows” and that “only a blind or lame person would marry you if you break the engagement.”

Libby then managed to enlist the sympathy and support of Rabbi Benjamin Zeev Fleisher, a Vizhnitz dayyan and activist in the community, and the green light was given to break the engagement, preferring that to one of the alternatives that were bandied about by friends: why don’t you get married and get divorced?

At this time the possibility of leaving the system altogether had yet to cross her mind. “I wanted to have 20 children”, she recalls. A new match was thus promptly arranged for her with a boy who had likewise a broken an engagement. Family and friends rejoiced in it being a true inve hagefen be-inve hagefen –grapes of the vine intertwined with grapes of the vine, love has met andy hardy.

But the match proved foreboding once again. Her fiancee showed signs of mental instability. He would bounce around strange suggestions regarding his desired venue for the wedding, ranging from a boat to a restaurant to “not being sure he wants to get married at all.”

Activists once again intervened and explained to her that it’s “completely normal” for Hasidic grooms to be nervous. He was put on psychotic meds and she was urged to proceed with the marriage. Even her backer on her previous marital mismatch, Rabbi Fleisher, wouldn’t support her quest to bail out this time.

It quickly turned out, however, that the boy had zero interest in an amorous relationship. During the height of her wedding celebrations, the sheva brakhot (seven blessings on seven days), the groom was still preoccupied with chasing prurient material online, even taunting his bride that “she would die to look like Bar Rafaeli”. Libby realized that she had been duped once more. Even though she had conducted her own investigation prior to her engagement to him, trusting the reports of mutual friends who knew them personally, it turns out that they had deceived her concealing things from her out of pity. It became apparent that the boy, an Israeli, married her merely for the green card.

After enduring “four months of hell” they finally separated. At first her husband took off with all her personal documents and withheld granting a get until a ransom of $30,000 was paid. After some haggling back and forth, a price tag of $15,00 in cash was reached as the price of the divorce.

Those were harrowing days for Libby. She still “didn’t even talk to men” and wouldn’t dare entertain the possibility of violating Jewish law to remarry without a religious divorce. She was forced to collect money from friends and acquaintances in the community who would sympathize with her, a poor agunah (bound woman), leashed to her husband who would not surrender his property without due remuneration. “The agunah concept was the first thing that made me realize that the system is rishus (evil) and bullshit; very sexist and very open to abuse”, she recollects.

In the meantime, Libby kept herself busy holding down respectable jobs in the community. When she first got married she was a hair stylist. But then, For the Pesach 2009 season she began working at a local Matzah bakery under the management of one Naftali Schwimmer, 50.

After all the agony surrounding the attainment of her freedom from a husband whose only exercised marital function was his extortion of her for the right to be free of him, Libby needed a break. In May 2009 she went on a short vacation to Miron, Israel to partake in the renown international celebration at the grave of R. Shimon bar Yochai on Lag Baomer. A new job prospect, offered by her previous boss Mr. Schwimmer, was waiting for her upon return to the states: working as an assistant at a communal summer camp office.

One day her supervisor approached her with an earnest plea: his doctor “instructed him that it’s very good for women to play with him 4 to 5 times per week.” Upon her retort “why me?” he responded: veil di bist aleins (you are alone, a.k.a. single). Libby declined.

With sexual harassment in her workplace, Libby wasn’t going to take it lying down. Activists, including such members of the KJ “modesty committee” as Yaakov Kelner, got involved, ostensibly to help her. Mr. Kelner chatted with her hours upon hours over the phone, spilling all the dirty secrets of intra-communal disreputable escapades in the process, seemingly in a bid to get close to her. Mr. Kelner encouraged her to report the harassment to secular governmental authorities but he wouldn’t promise to back her up publicly or provide testimony in court if needed. With the threat of being left holding the bag in such a fraught situation, Libby chose NOT to report it to authorities. “He (Mr. Kelner) acted creepy. He wanted to stay in touch with me. I was very vulnerable.” Mr. Kelner did, however, get Mr. Schwimmer to quit phoning her and begging her to “come back to talk to him” after she had quit the matzah bakery job.

Her next gig, seemingly an outgrowth of her sexual harassment ordeal, was manning a sexual abuse hotline in the community, called SOVRI, in preparation of which she underwent a rigorous 45-hour training course. Additional exposure to more modern cultural paradigms was gained through a stint working in “Pesach hotels”.

By 2010, Libby was no longer married to a man, had relocated to the more modern Borough Park, was free to dress as she pleased, read whatever she wanted and pursue a career of her choice; but she did –for the meantime– remain married to her wig as customary in the community, notwithstanding that halakhically she is not required to cover her hair now that she was no longer married.

It was the 2011 Birthright Israel trip that finally jolted her from her stupor. When she arrived for the trip she assumed that she looked fashionably modern. “I was MO-dressed, with leggings (as opposed to stockings) and a short skirt. I was still wearing the sheitel, [albeit] with hair underneath. I took off the wig at the airport and never put it on again in my life. That was a critical point. I felt like a free bird; I felt five years younger.”

The BRI folks were very sensitive and supportive of her evident transformation unfolding in front of them as the trip progressed. “My mind burst open. I suddenly allowed myself to think. I had a million questions. I realized that I’d been living my whole life by default. There’s shomer shabbas, shomer negiah, so many different types of Judaism; and who said Judaism is the answer?”

"One must be vigilant with regard to the Seder plate egg -- it could be an easter bunny!

With spring 2011 came a renewal of sorts on a personal and communal level when she first encountered the Thursday Night Chulent community, a ragtag confederation of intellectuals, artists, yuppies, hasids, atheists and misfits. Through her new acquaintances at Chulent she was referred to the modern secular Yiddishisten such as Alec Burko and Yankel Peretz who work at the Forverts and preside over a “Yiddish House” on he edge of Williamsburg wherein only Yiddish may be spoken by resident and visitor alike.

Another community and resource, one that she initially met with tepid success is Footsteps, whose stated mission it is to ease a transition to the mainstream for haredi individuals who choose to leave their communities. When employing her Yiddish humor in among Footsteps participants she was greeted with sneers and derision by some individuals, to the point of bringing her to tears. “The staff is extremely cordial and I have many friends at Footsteps, but it’s not made for everyone”, she reflects, adding that “most of my fans are within the system. I’m all for art, language, culture, zemiros (songs), delicious food and tradition; I am NOT for organized religion.”

Libby first started posting her humorous musings, typically drawing on Rabbinic or Yiddish maxims and lores, on her personal Facebook wall about a year ago; and the Hasidim instantly went gaga over her. At one point, when she was first “discovered” by the plugged-in Hasidim, they reportedly spent five hours straight on their blackberries discussing the newly minted Yiddish literary genius. Who was she? Was she really a woman? how can she possibly know so much?

Ms. Pollak lecturing at Chulent on Yiddish idioms

The key to Libby’s phenomenal mastery of Rabbinic and Yiddish literature and the very Yiddish language itself is no secret, however. As she explained on Yiddish Voice, a Yiddish radio program from Boston, she avidly perused Yiddish books in her youth, nothing else being available or permissible to her. By reading anything and everything that came her way –which in the Hasidic community is bound to be religiously-themed– Libby not only became keenly proficient in fields typically limited to men but she also developed a literary Yiddish, one that comprises words that are virtually never used in the colloquial Hasidic Yiddish, known derisively as “Yinglish” — an adulterated argot containing many English and onomatopoeic words.

What she triggered in the Hasidic community as evinced by the overwhelming acclaim and interaction with her FB posts was nothing short of a new renaissance-like epoch in the community’s attitude towards Yiddish. Whereas secular, unadulterated Yiddish used to be regarded –even among those with deep roots in the community– with disdain, Libby showed her followers that Secular Yiddish need not be devoid of any Rabbinic or religious references or vice versa. By inventing a whole new genre of literature whose aim it is to couple a pure Yiddish with Hasidic mores and references, Libby has fueled a new interest in studying and using the language correctly. It suddenly “became cool to speak Yiddish”.

In December 2011 a small cadre of die-hard New York secular Yiddishist survivors took note. Desperate for some fresh blood and eager to bridge the gap between the dying breed that is Secular Yiddish and the thriving Hasidic Yiddish, they welcomed her with open arms as the missing link in the continuity of the Yiddish language. She was interviewed by Rachel Schechter from the Forverts and featured in a subsequent article.

From her Chassidish Yiddish (201 members) Facebook page which she helped build along with its founder, Frieda, she moved on to the Kava Shtiebel (210 members). The idea was to keep the discussion in the former focused squarely on the topic of exploring the etymology and meaning of Hasidic Yiddish expressions and allow all sorts of cultural dialogue and gossip in the latter. Then, in a quest to consolidate all her precious wisdom into a single place, the self-titled Libby Pollak Facebook Page was created. She scored 100 followers overnight (twice as many as HN currently has!) and is currently “liked” by an impressive 434 persons, with “121 talking about this” (whatever that means — ask facebook).

Now, with a degree in Psychology in the pipeline, Ms. Pollak’s future looks bright. Independent and appreciated, soft-spoken and confident, she is poised to take on whatever life throws at her and is determined to shape her future in accordance with HER values and her unique talents. We wish her good luck and thank her for sharing with us her frank, heartfelt story, which we are confident will inspire many within the community and without for years to come.

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85 Responses to Libby Pollak: A Star is Born — And With It A Revival of Hasidic Yiddish

  1. Shulamis the Queen says:

    Libz from Libtown – you are a revolutionary! I can’t wait for all the other ladies to toss their shpitzels and stash away their thick stockings for the Summer 🙂 I’m davenning that it happens soon, amen.

  2. TheHasidAnswers says:

    Twas a long read but was totally worth it,
    What makes you really different is that fact that you are perusing a career, and a lovely one indeed (I’m also wrapping up my psychology degree.)
    As far as the followship part goes its kinda BS, less then 1% of people that are actively following and engaging with you are actually doing it for the ‘Yiddish language’ part but because they are hoping that one day something might spark here and they will get ‘lucky’ with you
    My little study that i did (seriously) shows that a Hasidic dude has an average of 13 Machshooves Zoores/impure thoughts per day, and with married man it’s slightly higher
    Anyways I wish you best of luck in your journey. I can see you being big one day, bigger then you can possibly even dream of
    -20 Y/O Williamsburg teenager

    • shauly says:

      Ha! This actually got me rolling with laughter.

      “My little study that i did (seriously) shows that a Hasidic dude has an average of 13 Machshooves Zoores/impure thoughts per day, and with married man it’s slightly higher”

      Funny shit.

      um, just out of curiosity, what did you use as a control group? How did you double blind your experiment? how did you ensure an unbiased test environment with no outside influences on the subjects behavior? think the results of the testing are accurate and will stand up to analysis by other members of the scientific community, or was your rebbi agreeing with you enough?

    • says:

      Hasid: I agree with the other reply to your comment. You have NO IDEA why men are on her sites. Unfortunately, this is what I have found, again and again, with members of all ‘extreme’ belief systems. THEY know the truth, no matter what. Please try to be open-minded; you may be right, BUT you may be wrong. HaShem gave us a brain, to think, & free will. There is a reason for this.

  3. Levi Keller says:

    Great story, well written. Cheers.

  4. Libby's Friend says:

    I remember Libby back in the days, when we used to laugh at how our seamed tights were misaligned and joke about being misfits because our parents are divorced.
    We kept in touch over the years, I vividly remember her trip to Israel, and when we couldn’t shake loose the fear of wounding up in hell.
    Libby is an unbelievable person, she’s been through so much and only grew from it, turning into the smartest, funnest, adorablest girl I know. I’m proud to call her my friend.

    • Sephora says:

      @Yoelyg Lol. ur comment is really not worth one type on the keyboard…but where was ur oh so warm heart when she was struggling, before she caught fame.. and for the record she’s still Jewish.. last time I checked. But seriously, ur comment made me smile out of the sheer stupidity. Thanks for that

  5. Sephora says:

    You go girl! I’m so proud of u!! U’ve come such a long way since these bluming neini days..

  6. YOELYG says:

    Mrs pollak: I know you went true a lot in your life, but being a goita wouldn’t make you more happy, just come back to yiddiskeit we all waithing for you & will accept you with a warm heart, you are probebly now the unhappies’d lady in the world

    • OTD and Happier than YOU says:

      You stupid idiot. How do you know she is unhappy? Didn’t you read the whole article? She is doing great and from what I understand happier then any of you crazy hasidic men can ever make her!!!
      Yes, I left. You know why? Because of men like you who think they know everything, they are better then woman, smarter then any woman can be. I have news for you: You are all crazy idiots pushing women like me away from religion!!!
      And yes, I am happier than I had ever been in my whole life!!!! I’m in school, doing great! About to graduate with a 3.9 GPA, with a degree that has potential of landing me a nice figure income. In addition to the other two degrees I already have. I can make money, not TAKE money!!! I am free and happy!!!!!!
      Don’t talk before you’ve walked a mile in the other persons shoes!!!

      • anon says:

        I know MANY MANY frum chassidish people with degrees and making nice figure incomes! Don’t bring this BS to such a level!!

      • Nice says:

        Dont think you can say this about females. Females from the community the author grew up in.

      • anon says:

        U don’t think? Well i do know! My mother, mother in law and brother have graduated and pursued/pursuing careers and guess what, in the same communities the author is talking about! No they are not the only ones!

      • hendl74 says:

        Thank you. I think it depends on WHAT chassidic sect one belongs to – Lubavitchers are NOT Satmar, etc. But I have talked to women who told me if they pursued a degree that their daughters would not make a good shidach, or marriage.

  7. Chaimy says:

    Libby, I’m glad I got to know u on a personal level. And I’m really glad to see u went from being an unsung hero, to a sung hero. Leaving everything behind and struggling to keep ur sanity, definitely took a double dose of courage. Keep up ur great work and stay strong..!!

  8. RB says:

    Libby, I have to say reading your story was truly inspiring, it’s incredible to hear that no matter how much you endured you are now becoming a strong beautiful independent women who freely expresses herself, who is being recognized for who she truly is, so many people appreciate your humor and talented writing including myself.. I always enjoy reading your posts even though I don’t comment much I really do..

    Your article mentions a Yaakov Kelner getting involved to help you (if this is the Yankel Kelner originally from Israel) I have to say just hearing the name Kelner makes my blood boil, I lived in fear for years because of him, when I was only 11yrs old my parents hired him to interrogate me for hours over the fact that I was sexually abused, supposedly he was going to be my friend and help me through it right? the reality was that he was there to make sure that I don’t talk to any of my friends about (SEX) he threatened an 11 yr old girl that she will get beat up If I she speak to anyone about her experiences.. Talk about “Vad Hatznius” helping innocent kids who get sexually abused… Mmm… let’s put fear into their minds & hearts to keep them quiet.. wow that was helpful…!!

    • Shmoitefuna says:

      You have it right!
      This is the Yankel Kellner that fled Israel to KJ where he now continues with that sort of terror.
      It’s rumored that he fled Israel after choking a person to death.

  9. moshe weiss says:

    by posting only the comments what is Pro your article means that you are not sure with your articles

  10. Huh? says:

    I don’t get what the big deal is here. I know a woman that was divorced three times! and can write and speak and make jokes in Hungarian fluently.knows how to talk dirty in hungarian and its so funny want to interview her?

    whew what a star

    • hendl74 says:

      You don’t understand. Was the Hungarian you know a Chassid or former Chassid?? This makes ALL the difference, as this article focused on that.

  11. RB says:

    Yankel Kelner is a seriously sick guy, when he questioned me about my abusers he wanted to know every little colorful detail like how and where they touched me was I standing laying on the bed did my abuser use one or two finger.

    When a child gets abused you don’t ask them such questions, Yankel Kelner joined “vad hatznius” for his own personal sexual perverted needs, he never looked to help anyone If he ever did help anyone it was at least for him to get some sexual gratification out of it.. he lives on terrorizing and manipulating people and innocent kids get them to talk to him about their horrible experiences so that he can get off on it & telling them he wants to stay friends and how they can always turn to him.

    I don’t know what he is up to these day’s but I find it hard to believe that even the ass holes in K.J would have a guy like him involved in kiruv or vad hatzinus work!!

  12. RB says:

    Some of the comments here are just so utterly pathetic gosh I’d like to slap you guys above your heads, I’m proud of Libby and pf people like her that took the step to leave their whole life behind and start from scratch after all the horrible experiences they went through they left their communities & even in some cases completely lost touch with their families, why? because they are now not accepted for who they are and for how they choose to live differently then what they where expected of them.. to live honestly and openly with integrity & self respect, to create something of themselves other then being a baby making machine or preparing gefilta fish & cholent for shabbes(not that I have anything against gefilta fish or cholent but please you people need to go post your stupid comments and negative remarks somewhere else, why are you here commenting like stupid children? do you have what it takes to come out and be honest with who you really are? to be real and open to your friends and family instead of hiding behind screens or nice frum cloth? watching movies behind close doors so that g-d forbid your kids wont have bad shidduchim? and the list goes on.. you come here and put Libby down for being courageous for not giving a damn what you think? for being talented, bright & ambitious? what is the point of this stupid comments I don’t get it..

    • hendl74 says:

      I basically agree. There is so much awful stuff that goes on VERY MUCH ‘behind closed doors’ in some of these communities. It is VERY non-Jewish to condemn this woman (it is LaShon Harah) for doing what? For being who she REALLY is. I have nothing against women in Chassidic communities who truly CHOOSE that lifestyle, but to be FORCED into it, that is horrible. btw, the book ‘Unchosen’ is excellent, re: people who have left that community.

  13. moshe weiss says:

    @RB sorry but its a free country and everyone is allowed to write what they think and what they want…

  14. RB says:

    @Moshe go ahead knock ur self out comment away.. Its a Free country indeed even free enough to make a complete fool out of yourself.. Got nothing else to add, peace out brother..

  15. Oi Vei says:

    A new star is born. Pathatic. She is nothing but a loser with a boys figure and its all going to her head. She still behaves like a williamsburg asshole. She has nothing going for her. She absolutely would’ve been happier had she stayed in the chassidic community and made babies (pathatic ones). I once spoke with her, and admitted that she’s not happier in this lifestyle.

    • pearl reich says:

      what a low life???!!! this is how you open your dirty mouth to another human let alone another jew sister!!!

      • YOELYG says:

        Mrs pearl reich: & when you open your mouth by dr’ phil show against jewish humens thet was right? You are aloud? Go back to your night clubs & dressing naked & live us alone, & hope you will lose your kids in court, sham on you

      • shauly says:

        Perry dear, you really think you can reason with people who coward in the shadows, afraid from reason and logic and what it might do to their fragile brains??

        Of course you are bound to stimulate pieces of literature ranging from “when you open your mouth by dr’ phil show against jewish humens thet was right? You are aloud?” to “Go back to your night clubs & dressing naked”. i wonder if this guy can apply for a Pulitzer prize with this broad and deep, comprehensive response on a subject totally indifferent to what is being discussed.

        Every time i think I’ve seen the bulging edge of insanity, along comes another uneducated frummy to prove me wrong. Its like some of them suffer from this haunting fear that someone somewhere may be happy (and since their imaginary all-powerful friend is powerless to stop it or fend for Himself it seems, they have no choice but to take on the holy duty of acting deranged for Him)… Pathetic.

      • hendl74 says:

        Pearl – the previous replies to your comment are incredibly sad. I really enjoyed your interview on Dr. Phil; it is important NOT to hide oneself, and to be honest re: who one truly is. I have both modern & ultra-Orthodox members on both sides of my family; I have seen incredible happy people in those communities, as well as miserable ones. The replies are chock full of LaShon Harah; and they simply denote what some Chassids think about those of us who are not – that we swing from Chandeliers, have orgies 24/7, and use all our funds to buy drugs. They don’t realize – in EVERY group, there are people raised in it who DO NOT belong. Let them go – HaShem is everywhere, and looking over them also.

  16. moshe weiss says:

    @RB realy?! If she is the new STAR… Than I’m happy to be the new fool…. And btw thank you for your permission.

  17. tobym says:

    Shulamis, I know that I’m replying alittle late, but I can’t hold myself back…. I really don’t know why somebody would daven for something like this to happen. Daven for something better, please! We are all jews and we r one big loving family, where is the respect to one another?! Everybody is entitled to do whatever they want, but never put down another jew. Hashem wants us to be one, and we should love each other, that’s it!
    And about libby, I can never judge her for I didn’t go through what she did. But I still DAVEN for her that whatever she does in her life she should only make the right move, and she should be happy with her life!

  18. Sephora says:

    @Rb couldn’t agree more with u. And@ these stupid ass ppl commenting here I just wana know Y it bothers so much? Is it cuz ur not as courageous? Or is it cuz ur a bunch of depressed losers who cant do anything right in life?? Seriously. Stop putting others down and go create a life for urselves! Ur the pathetic ones.

  19. Isaac says:

    @SEPHORA. What exactly are you doing NOW if NOT putting down others??? Everyone’s entitled to their own opinion as you are to yours. What makes one be a “Depressed Loser” by voicing their own thoughts Just like YOU are!!

  20. YossiG says:

    Reading the article made me wonder what’s so bad with the hassidic communities that many are leaving it. Well, the comments here explained a lot. I mean, take a look @ the hate, how the ppl can’t accept a person for who she is, and how the ppl have to humiliate others. It is nothing more than a reflection of their “unhappiness”.. Libby never said that it was easy and fun to leave everything behind, but it was definitely worth it. It was worth to get rid of such hateful ppl like u, assholes, and get around ppl who accept her for whoever she is.. It’s sad, but true.. I’m not generalizing, but there is definitely a pattern. Libby must love u haters for making her famous.. She may not be a superstar but she definitely caught more fame than she had in her past community. She’s not 30 or 40 years old to say u got nowhere in life. She’s a real young lady who’s still pursuing her career and she definitely has a bright future. Suck it up haters, u remain locked in ur cubicles with ur double life of pretending to be frum and browsing porn sites when no one sees u, while Libby thrives freely..!!

  21. Jerry Grossman says:

    Libby definitely had a difficult life and had some bad people take advantage of her. It seems her family wasn’t too helpful either. But in no way does this condemn the lifestyle and choices of the tens of thousands of Hasidic families living with complete happiness. Almost all ‘arranged’ Chasidic marriages have happy endings. Usually parents will not force or coerce their kids into marrying someone they don’t care for.

    Some might say that Libby is now free and she is happy now that she has thrown off the ‘restrictions’ placed on her by Orthodoxy. If that would be correct, why is she not living amongst non-Jews and socializing with them. Why is she tweeting and writing in Yiddish and gravitating for the attention she gets from Chasidim on the fringe. She is definitely not happy with her life, and most likely wishes that she can go back and live the quiet fulfilling life of a loving Chasidic wife/mother.

    • Chaim Shalalala says:

      This precisely is what bothers those miserable haters about Libbis freedom.

      She still uses Yiddish as a life language a real expression in art music poetry and writing singing and so fourth, while the hasidim want to use Yiddish as a tool to isolate and numb their children to a imagined cultist devotion to live like rats, with thousands of kids and no life. Yes the rats in the sewer system are happier than in Willi or KJ but they don’t see Libby smile and live those Kave Shtible internet porn addicts with the red rusty beards they do understand the life of freedom Libbys so vividly lives publicly and they die in jealousy. They use Internet and it forces them to face life. Thats why they hate Libby and call her ugly like a man and pathetic… Libby thanks for giving them hell they will one day kiss your feet in gratitude that you forced them out of their hell holes you shine upon them the bright rays of freedom and all in Yiddish, their language.

      We love you holy and sweat sister!

    • Here’s a woman who has suffered a lot at the hands of the chasidic community who is trying to pick up the pieces and put her life back together and you people have the chutzpah to judge her, to call her names, and to opine on her happiness?! If anyone here is giving the chasidic community a bad name it’s you. What a chilul Hashem!

    • shauly says:

      Jerry, do you give your psychiatric assessment of people you never met, and gauge their happiness, for free?

      She writes in yiddish because she loves yiddish. She doesnt wear a black rag lekuved shabbos because she hates black rags. She eats chulant Thursday night because she loves chulant and doesn’t give a fuck about your pshetel about the chulant or how many nitzoytzes you are bringing down with the kishka.

      We moved on even though we were punished painfully for it by our close ones and the community at large. We got new jobs, made new friends, discovered new families, got ourselves the education we were denied, fought for our individuality, built new lives on top of the pain, and you want us to give a fuck about YOUR taste about our chulant plates? Hellz no brother. We have fought way too hard for our freedom to let your definition of religion cramp our style!

  22. Rivkah says:

    @Jerry. So very true! Couldnt agree more!!

  23. Groynem says:

    What’s anyone’s happiness got to do with anything? You seriously believe that only chasidic Jews are happy? What if she were happy, would your faith weaken? And if she were unhappy, how does that excuse a society that treats its weak and vulnerable this way, a community where it’s leaders takes advantage of innocent young souls when they’re down? How dare you utter such despicable and vicious hyperbole? You should be ashamed of yourselves!

    Since you’re paragons of virtue why don’t you answer these questions: What kind of a society makes a young girl pay a $15,000 bribe just for the privilege of freeing herself from a doomed marriage she was forced into in the first place?? How can you even live with yourselves when such cruelty happens on a daily basis right under your holier than thou noses?

    Go into a quiet room and think about some of what I’m saying, maybe, just maybe, you’ll come to have a tiny bit of compassion for those YOUR community chewed up and discarded like trash.

    How dare she try to be happy, right? She’s supposed to just curl up and die just so your community can go about their sick ways without consequence. Wake up morons!

  24. Sue says:

    Libby, you sound like your adorable and funny young woman. Too bad I cannot read Yiddish but I doonly understand it. I spoke Yiddish to my grandparents. Could you put up the English translations so I could partake in your humor? Hatzlacha in all your future endeavors! You’ve got a lot of spunk which will bode you well in life.

  25. pearl reich says:


    there’s an oceanfull of words that i’d like to express towards your short biography …… i know there’s way more to you and your life than portrayed in the article. you’ve got a beautiful mind with a profo…und insight on returning the beauty of the jewish culture. im soooooo proud to consider you as one of the martyrs in our communty of the zealot revolutionists. your positive outlook and input despite all your tribulations are admirable . what i respect of you is that you didnt throw it all away you kept the good and got rid of what you felt was destructive. that is the ideal way of moving on in life…. not with hate, not with anger but with love and positivity and that is what i cherish in you. DON’T YOU EVER ALLOW ANYONE TO DEGRADE YOU…. YOU ARE A STAR OF YOUR OWN JEWISH CULTURE!!! PERSONAL TRANSFORMATION CAN AND DOES HAVE GLOBAL AFFECTS. AS WE GO SO GOES THE WORLD. FOR THE WORLD IS US. THE REVOLUTION THAT WILL SAVE THE WORLD IS ULTIMATELY A PERSONAL ONE.
    you persevered till now continue on your journey….
    wishing you loads of success and love


  26. anon says:

    While nearly everything u write about belz school is true, we were NOT required to wear SEAMS! So that makes me question the complete authenticy of this article as well as others! I also graduated from belz school and i just went past everything this principal said. I took a regular office job that paid $400 weekly. If a girl wants to live a normal life she can do just that. I love the way u try to portray the whole community in a bad light when there are just some bad apples as are in any other group or religion or non religion!

    • Isaac says:

      Rightly so! And that’s why, when reading such an article like this, and feelings of sympathy envelope my whole being, and then I come across SIMPLE LIES, Then I know that it’s all Bullshit!!When one needs the help of the untruth to embellish their articles then that simply shows that it’s one piece o’crap!!!

    • Sruly says:

      Here’s a comment I saw on Pearlperry Reich’s post of this article from someone who learned in Belz to someone who said what u just said:
      Suree Eff: “Estee i went to that school and i can testify that mrs mandelowitz said that and much more, baruch hashem i had an open mind and an open minded family and knew that her brainwashing is NOT our torah and its her made up torah! Baruch hashem her preaching did not budge me, and i took on a well paying job and went on with my life!”
      She continues in the next comment: “She recently told my sisters class that what shes saying doesnt say anywhere but the rabbanim today enforced all the bla bla and it became issur deoiraisa! Are u kidding?? How can human beings make up new issur deoiraisa! The woman is a mental case and even though the school is a ultra frum one, many people are unhappy with this woman!”
      So before u draw ur professional conclusions, consider this..

    • just saying says:

      when you are a principal who messes up girls heads with nonsense and outrageous restrictions… justice will come back around to get you… just look at the poor Mrs.Shnitzler who spawned hershy.

    • malke pessel says:

      I agree with Yankel Bobanitz. Yiddishkeit and Chasidism is not as one. Chasidism is not a must. Hallacha is. Today’s society is built on instant gratification. When something goes awry, you reach for the second choice instead of making an attempt to correct the original problem. All I can say, my heart and sole bleeds for the Gehenem Libby will need to endure for all the unnecessary Aveiros she is committing now, all in the name of happiness. A Chassidic rotten apple metamorphs into a secular rotten apple. Libby should work on her issues, emotional, financial, familial but remain steadfast to the Torah, only to save her Neshume from burning in HEll; CHAP? It’s never too late, girl!!

  27. anon says:

    Plenty of irreligious creeps out there too! I completley sympathise with her story however it doesnt mean that irreligious marriages work wonders!

  28. Sol Gold says:

    and has a hard time doing teshuvah.
    Rabosai please realize you don’t have to throw away being an erliche yid for a little taavos olam hazeh . gevuros ish veisha stops taivos diminish , but the damage will be done.
    enjoy life be an erliche yid. Many people went off in the in the past they all regretted it at the end please dont fall to hard or two low or do things you will regret later and it will be too hard to get up please have rachmonus on your souls.

  29. Sarah1000 says:

    This article made me laugh… I “love” the way people like Libby and Pearl lower themselves to the lowest point possible… I’ve been off for a good few years,one thing I NEVER did was disrespect my family or community’s believes… I think it’s the most disgusting think to do… You were born into this religion, wether you like it or not. If you’re not happy take your ugly boyfriend with you and go do whatever the hell u need to do. Advertising yourself and making the biggest fool of yourself WON’T HELP. Indeed a few years from now where do u think you will end up ? I can’t wait to see where. Good luck!!!

    • shauly says:

      Unless of course you dare want to retain custody of the 4 kids you have born and raised for every goddamn day and night while your ex is busy touting his ultra-super-deluxe-religious horn successfully and undeterred.

      So sarah dear, im glad you never had any family not supporting you and that you weren’t destroyed for daring to be a woman with a voice, but perry was and is going through hell since the moment she was married off to someone with yuches and told to shut up and stay put. Had she not gone to Dr. Phil she wouldve lost her kids a month ago on the grounds of her wearing pants….but no. How DARE you have the chutzpa after 5 years of agunes and hypocrisy by this community’s leaders actually DO SOMETHING! Total shame on her.

      • anon430 says:

        Sorry but there is NO excuse to go on Dr. Phil and badmouth all Orthodox Jewry.. and this is way more than Perry wearing pants! There was a picture of her topless even if her back was to the camera!
        What kind of example is it for a mother to disrespect her parents in that way? While the shidduch system for Chassidim needs a lot of work it’s no excuse to disrespect her parents let alone all of Orthodox Jewry.

        She is an agunah by CHOICE . From what I read she did not want her get unless she received 38,000$.

        She does not deserve sole custody while her ex just has to pay the bills! If anything custody should be SHARED.

        As a child of a messy abusive divorce I am ashamed of her behavior because she is acting out in anger rather than the best interests of her children!

  30. HoezenT says:

    Libby, to your friends and supporters, you are an inspiration and pride.

    To those who are/ feel trapped, to those who can/will never achieve the self-expression and actualization that you have, and will, to them you are a threat.

    Keep on perusing your dreams, Libby. Keep on showing them the finger.

  31. aronhakohen says:

    Sorry but I know the guy who libbe was engaged to very well, calling him a loser and chain smoker is just a word to come her feelings, he is a talanted yingerman with a well paid job and makes a lot of money, and smoking is not what I see a problem at all,

    What I heared is that the reson why libby didn’t want the shiduch then was cuz he a BUM….. And she is to a big tzadeikes for this BUM

  32. SheloKedarkoh says:

    I happen to know for a fact that Libby said when she was younger that she wanted SEVENTEEN children; her saying now that she wanted twenty undermines all of her credibility.

    • hendl74 says:

      HA! I have never laughed so hard in my life!!! Yeah, I guess 3 more kids that she wants, that she said years ago, is a HUGE major point.

  33. yael&aryeh says:

    i dont libby but witnessed an episode several years ago- there was a misunderstanding to say the least between her and a “GOY”….you should have seen how the supposed “frum narrow minded” attitude came out of this supposedly funny yiddish speaking mouth…. i was ashamed for her. and although i didnt know this “GOY” i apologized to her profusely on libby’s behalf. (it was sad how she was wrongly accused just because she isnt jewish. she was truly hurt.)its the sickest thing today- every doofus-puts on pants..pretends they are the prettiest girls to walk the planet… eat bacon…sing poems…and viola’ a new star is born! funny!! g’luck to all you guys!! try getting fame based on real talent. and to the non committed twosome- after your verbal bloodbath on dr phil…it would be wise for you to eat cake. you can all take yourself out of the shmaltz but you cant take the shmaltz out of you. become openminded and truly liberal- not just in attire, speech and action-but in thought and intellect. respect all of humankind, even the religious and then you will have succeeded to take the shmaltz out of you. bacon, irish gals and dudes,tv shows, and pants n bikinis aint gonna cleanse you.

    • Jane says:

      Well said Yael.

    • hendl74 says:

      Yeah, with your comment you showed how utterly respectful you are. What garbage. And, typical – of course YOU PERSONALLY KNOW that she eats bacon, etc. Someone leaves your group & they automatically commit every sin imaginable. What of the sin of speaking LaSHon Harah???? One famous Rabbi said that speaking this is WORSE than eating traif.

  34. tzimisht says:

    I don’t understand. Why is anyone who is unhappy about this reading this or commenting on this. If all this is forbidden to you, why are u even on the internet? and even more so,if you are so righteous and good, and love your lives, especially in comparison to Libby, who must absolutely hate hers, why are you wasting your precious time commenting here at all? don’t you have more important things to do with your time?

  35. Daniella says:

    @yael&aryeh –
    Unlike you, I DO know libby, and your (mis)characterization of her sounds completely exaggerated and phony. When you have nothing to say about the actual content of the article, you can always rely on the anonymous, half-baked, pathetic personal attack. Classy. And by the way, I think there are “sicker things today” than people who wear pants and sing poems.

  36. Just another opinion says:

    I don’t know Libby, and I am chassidish.
    What I don’t understand about you naysayers, gossipers, people who bash and hate others because they are not as frum as YOU would like them to be..

    Ironically: When someone gets divorced, or does something you don’t approve of, you gossip, bashmutz, them in the street. Go call your sisters, your friends, your mothers aunts shvesterkind,.. and yenta away.. Thats okay by you.. Regardless if they’re in the community or out.. Your favorite pastime is to yenta, no matter what damage you are doing to that person (and you are doing harm especially if they’re in the community with children in the farshtinkene system)…

    But when a person leaves, and talks about themselves.. That is not okay by you.. She’s not telling your story, She’s telling hers. You’re allowed to yenta about her to your neighbors, but she’s not allowed to voice her opinions and her life story as she sees fit????

    Hypocrisy much?

  37. Sylvia says:

    Ironically, anybody that only tries to hint a pinch of critic on this young unfortunate kid is being backfired right away with the “HATER” title, u can count at least a dozen times the word ‘haters’ has been labeled on commentators who are non approving of this so called ‘star’, here in the comments, while at the same time none of u “lovers” wouldn’t consider hate when someone is bashing out at frum people, or on an entire community..
    I smell big time hypocricy, and more than all; unlimited “hate” towards frummies, callenge me if I’m wrong!

    • hendl74 says:

      Sylvia –
      you are dead wrong, my dear. You don’t know WHAT the rest of us would do if someone attacked the frum community. As for myself, when someone does do this, I defend the frum Jews. I explain to people that keeping Shabbos can be an incredible spiritual experience, that for some people being frum is perfect for them. It is not for me – but it is the lifestyle for many, who choose it freely. All Jews should respect the free choices of all other Jews.

  38. Miryum says:

    ”the hasidim instantly went gaga over her…”
    Libby, I too, am going gaga over you 🙂

  39. still jewish says:

    wow wow im so happy for u and wish u all the best
    me as being chasidic i know how hard it is i wish i would know u earlier and i would leave with u
    i hate it and really want to leave this stupid religion

  40. Esq. says:

    OK here’s my question; how come when the litvishe go off they dont resort to what the Shaulys and Perrypearls do?

    In other words, they act as commenter Sarah1000 did (who I disagree with but admire for at least not denigrating the people and religion she left).

    And Shauly, I do agree that there are issues with how we deal with custody when one parent goes off but I wouldn’t say that Perry should be the ideal case that you choose to make your stand and flagbearer. I think she would lose custody based on things she’s done even if both she and Sinai were both gentiles (I know her and her husband).

    • just saying says:

      have you heard of joshie berger? he dont seem to be coming from a chassidic place and he’s pretty wild.

  41. Oy! says:


    I do realize that you have experienced lots of pain in the last few months/years and you do seem to love your children very much… But don’t you think it would have been best for your kids not to air your dirty laundry to the media? One day they will find all the garbage you blasted about yourself and THEM all over the web. Why couldn’t you take care of your issues discreetly and privately? At least if you claim your doing this for THEIR sake!?!

    Truthfully, my heart breaks for your kids. I can only imagine how confusing it is for a child to learn things in school and see the opposite occuring at home. I’m sure deep down you really know that living with guidance and direction is the best for you and your family…

    Please! For your kids.. and for YOUR sake… don’t make mistakes that will come back to haunt you!!!

    • hendl74 says:

      Many of us, myself included, did live in ‘two separate worlds’. And you know what: we got used to it, and it was fine. Not only fine, but I truly appreciate having gone through this. I understand people of cultures foreign to me FAR better, & can see other opinions & not ‘freak out’ over them. The world is full of those with very differing lives; it is a blessing to get to know them. HaShem made them as well.
      Also, why is everyone so upset that she ‘aired’ her feelings? SHe is discussing HER life. People learned a lot by her interview. Are you saying that NO ONE from the frum community who leaves it should NOT speak out?? So many now are coming forth with cases of sexual abuse in those communities, and got NO WHERE by going only to people in their communities. Should these people NOT go to the police to get some justice and stop the abuse of others??

  42. Shmendrik says:

    Hey fellas! chill it, it is obvious that most of you don’t know Libby Pollak, she is not a “rebel”, she’s not a piece of trash like Deborah F. and she’s no dummy like most of those “attention seeking” rebels, I wouldn’t say she has no issues, but she’s completely different than most of those noise machines trying to attract some attention to their unsuccessful lives.
    Libby is a smart individual, talented, doesn’t comsider hersel an atheist, sticks to yiddish language, lives in yiddish areas, she considers hersel more modern than the family she grew up with.
    You will not see in this article she should bash out at her family or former friends, she will not create ‘scoops’ to get a few minutes of infamous attention on rhe account of her loved ones that also love her, shows much stability and normality, she will not stoop to the low point some others did, to slap up their families with no regard to anything in the past, she is not so! she is too smart for that, and had a dignity to herself!
    She;’s more professional, and doesn’t feel she has to sacrifice innocent people to get some fame, she gets her fame by humor and her personality.

  43. yiddishe momma says:

    I too am frum and chassidish and bla bla. Somehow between all the OCD bunch I find libby to be the most interesting, intelligent, educated one. Unlike the other’s she entertains with humor and grace, and not with anger and bashing’s of her community like the other’s constantly do. Therefore she is sincerely appreciated by most, even by the very frum. I was deeply saddened after reading her past biography. So much to endure… Hashem Yerachem. Considering everything she went through (2 unsuccessful engagements, marriage) Honestly as hard as it is for some to understand why people end up going OTD I think the answer is; Lack of moral support from family and friends!!! Instead of receiving chizzuk and moral support about her sufferings she was threatened and brainwashed with the worst scenarios. Cannot blame her for her immediate stance in life. She is to be commended for keeping her priorities in balance comparing to the others.. Good job sista. Love ye, deeply understand ye, hugs to ye. Coming from a loving, very frum chassidish yiddishe momma.

  44. yankel bobanitz says:

    Don’t confuse true Orthodox Jewish religion with the nonsense that has no place in halacha. To leave hasidus does not mean one has to abandon Judaism. In fact, the struggle against abuse is best served by those who remain true to Torah.

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