Deb Tambor Child-Custody Woes Common Among Parents Who Leave Hasidic World

System Favors Unified Ultra-Orthodox Extended Families

Not Forgotten: Deb Tambor was remembered at a poignant memorial gathering. Unfortunately, her tragic story is all too common among those who leave the Hasidic world.
blesofsky photos
Not Forgotten: Deb Tambor was remembered at a poignant memorial gathering. Unfortunately, her tragic story is all too common among those who leave the Hasidic world.

By Debra Nussbaum Cohen

Published October 13, 2013, issue of October 18, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 4 of 5)

Deen, who currently lives in Brooklyn, now sees only his youngest child, an 11-year-old son, and just once every other month. The others, older now, refuse to see him.

Reached by telephone, Deen’s ex-wife said that she did not want to share her perspective on the divorce.

The prospect of losing one’s children is enough of a threat that it compels many people to stay in communities and marriages in which they no longer feel they belong, those involved say.

“It’s leverage being used against them to keep them in,” said Rabbi Eliyahu Fink, an Orthodox rabbi in Santa Monica, Calif., who grew up in Monsey and frequently counsels people struggling within Orthodoxy.

According to Abe Weiss, who left the Skver community in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, several years earlier, and later became Tambor’s boyfriend, it was after Tambor checked herself into a psychiatric hospital to deal with her depression that her family members in New Square moved to block her from seeing her children.

The family eventually gained full custody of her children via a court order, said Weiss, who had been living with Tambor for eight months at the time of her death. She was able to see her children only once every other week for an hour, and only in New Square, in visitation supervised by her sister, Weiss said. When her ex-husband remarried, he added, Tambor’s husband and family encouraged her children to call their new step-mother “Mommy” and Tambor by only her first name.

“Her depression started when she decided to leave the community and was threatened with losing her kids,” Weiss told the Forward. “Her biggest issue was that no one cared for her; everyone blew off all her issues.”

Tambor’s ex-husband did not return a phone message left for him, and subsequent phone calls were cut off.

Psychotherapist Isaac Schechter, whose clients are mostly from ultra-Orthodox communities in Rockland County, north of New York City, acknowledged that “certainly there are some for whom [mental illness] is a black mark” on a family’s reputation. But he said, “That is evolving just as it is in the general population.”


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • When is a legume not necessarily a legume? Philologos has the answer.
  • "Sometime in my childhood, I realized that the Exodus wasn’t as remote or as faceless as I thought it was, because I knew a former slave. His name was Hersh Nemes, and he was my grandfather." Share this moving Passover essay!
  • Getting ready for Seder? Chag Sameach! http://jd.fo/q3LO2
  • "We are not so far removed from the tragedies of the past, and as Jews sit down to the Seder meal, this event is a teachable moment of how the hatred of Jews-as-Other is still alive and well. It is not realistic to be complacent."
  • Aperitif Cocktail, Tequila Shot, Tom Collins or Vodka Soda — Which son do you relate to?
  • Elvis craved bacon on tour. Michael Jackson craved matzo ball soup. We've got the recipe.
  • This is the face of hatred.
  • What could be wrong with a bunch of guys kicking back with a steak and a couple of beers and talking about the Seder? Try everything. #ManSeder
  • BREAKING: Smirking killer singled out Jews for death in suburban Kansas City rampage. 3 die in bloody rampage at JCC and retirement home.
  • Real exodus? For Mimi Minsky, it's screaming kids and demanding hubby on way down to Miami, not matzo in the desert.
  • The real heroines of Passover prep aren't even Jewish. But the holiday couldn't happen without them.
  • Is Handel’s ‘Messiah’ an anti-Semitic screed?
  • Meet the Master of the Matzo Ball.
  • Pierre Dulaine wants to do in his hometown of Jaffa what he did for kids in Manhattan: teach them to dance.
  • "The first time I met Mick Jagger, I said, 'Those are the tackiest shoes I’ve ever seen.'” Jewish music journalist Lisa Robinson remembers the glory days of rock in her new book, "There Goes Gravity."
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.