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March 08, 1991 - Image 23

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1991-03-08

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baron had done everything
the Jewish community want-
ed her to do. As a young girl,
she attended afternoon He-
brew school. She was called to
the bimah for her bat mitzvah. She
went on to confirmation and academic
summers in Israel.
She later became a youth adviser for
B'nai B'rith and like all "good" Jew-
ish girls, she dated only Jewish
men before marrying and settling
down. Her master's degree in urban
planning was placed on the career
shelf for 15 years while she drove car-
pool, volunteered at a Jewish nursing
home and chaired many PTA
Then at age 40, with a daughter in
high school, a daughter in middle
school and a son in elementary school,
Sharon's husband left. She did not
want a divorce, but he did.
"Only people who have suffered a
death in the family or a divorce really
know what the words 'all of a sudden'
mean," Sharon said. "I went from the
Jewish norm of stereotypic success,
the four-bedroom colonial on the cul-
de-sac in Birmingham to the two-
bedroom apartment in Southfield. My
daughters split a room; my son has his
own room and I sleep on the sofa bed."
Sharon wears her bitterness
wherever she goes. But in particular,
her anger extends to the organized
Jewish community. It is a community,
she said, that just doesn't know how to
handle the Jewish divorce.
"What used to be accessible to me as
far as social circles are concerned is
now off limits because I don't have the
money I once had," she said.
"The committees at the temple don't
have room for a woman doing her best
to run a family of three children.
When I walk into shul on Saturdays, I
hear them whisper, 'There goes Sha-
ron; she's divorced now, you know.'
"But they might as well not be
whispers; they might as well be
screams," she said. "Before, I was a
respected attorney's wife. Now I'm a
The divorce rate in the United
States is 53 percent. The Jewish com-
munity's divorce rate is about 14 per-
cent, according to the 1990 National
Jewish Population Study, which was
commisisoned by the Council of Jew-
ish Federations.

It's a


that won't

go away.

The Jewish


rate is






Still, many say Judaism, which
presents itself as a family-based
religion, looks on divorce as a stigma
that it has trouble working into the
puzzle of Jewish communal life.
But divorce itself is a puzzle, with
many different pieces to it. Among
those pieces are how the organized
Jewish community deals with the
divorced man or woman; how divorce
affects the children; what is a get and
how does it work; and what are some
of the legal problems that divorcees
run into.
Stanley probably doesn't know of
Sharon. But he does know the stigma
and he does know the pain she's going
through. A Farmington Hills busi-
nessman, Stanley, too, felt his inner
peace disappear with his divorce.
Stanley has been divorced for six
years. His wife left -him, he said, for a
number of reasons. It was a difference
over religious observance that finally
caused the split. His former wife
_became a religious, sheitel-wearing
Jew. Stanley is Conservative. He won
custody of his children in what he
called a bitter courtroom brawl.
Now his two children, both young
teen-agers, go in between worlds, liv-
ing with their father and spending two
weekends a month with their mother.
"I've got great kids," he said.
"They're able to go from world to
world. And through it all, I feel their
support for me. They think I'm lonely
because I don't date much. The truth
is, I'd love to be dating more. But I'm
just not as ready as they want me to be
Lois would have loved to have. been
on a date two Sundays ago. That was
the day her former husband, Ron,
remarried. It was more difficult to live
through that day than any day during
the years she and her former spouse
fought over love, money and the chil-
Ron, she said, would prove himself
irresponsible time and again during
their divorce. He stalled on delivering
a get (divorce paper) to her. And his
stalling on paying back federal income
taxes resulted in the IRS freezing Lois'
bankbook and threatening to impound
her home.
"Divorce is as real as it can be," said
Lois, a city auditor. "My husband and
I fell out of love. It didn't happen over-
night, but it happened. I not only


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