Saturday, September 28, 2013

For Deb: A Very Special Eulogy

The following post is going to be a different kind of eulogy.  Usually, a eulogy is delivered by those who knew the deceased best.  However, the circumstances behind the expiry of Deb Tambor deserve attention of even those who knew of her, or barely knew her at all.

I only met Deb Tambor in person once.  I knew her mostly from Facebook.  She and I were part of several groups that are for formerly religious Jews.  From her posts, I could tell that she was a kind, sensitive, and thoughtful person.  She clearly suffered much in her life.  Whenever others were suffering, she would offer kind words of sympathy.  She even would try to help them through with it.  She was a very special kind of friend.

The one time I did meet her in person was at a Vietnamese restaurant.  The occasion of this rendezvous was also bittersweet.  Another member of my Facebook circle had just gotten out of the hospital.  He was visiting his parents in New Jersey.  After that visit, he was planning to move to Vietnam.  But those plans were delayed due to a reckless driver.  He and his parents were walking home from synagogue, and this car hit him and his parents.  He was severely injured, and his parents were killed.  So the circumstances of this meeting were celebrating said friend's recovery, but also sad that he now had to live the rest of his life an orphan.

Deb showed up toward the end of the meetup.  We did not really speak much.  I'm pretty sure I introduced myself to her.  But one thing about her did stick out--her smile.  She had these dimples, and they made her smile very contagious.  She spoke rather quietly, but there was a certain impact to her words.  I could see that she was a very gentle person, but could be tough when she needed to be.  I regret now that I did not get to know her better.

When I heard the news last night that she passed away, my heart sank.  Although I barely knew her, I still felt very saddened.  But then, little by little, the circumstances behind her death became known:
While I do not know all the details
While most of what I know is heresay
this much is known

She had been fighting a very harsh custody battle with her ex-husband and losing.

Now I understand a mother being barred from ever seeing her children if she was abusive.  I understand if she is seriously mentally ill.  I understand if she is unable to care for herself or her children.  And I especially understand if she is a criminal.  These are good reasons for a child to be barred from seeing their mother.

But to the best of my knowledge, DEB TAMBOR WAS NONE OF THE ABOVE!

It is my understanding that Deb Tambor's only crime was that she is no longer a religious Jew.  And this crime was so egregious, that her own FATHER testified against her in custody court!  And the community that her ex-husband lives in all ganged up on her.  They arranged for legal fees, they did everything they could to make sure that these children would never know their mother again.

And even worse.  They vilified her.  That's right, her kids were told that their mother was evil.  They were told to hate their mother.  Their mother, who carried them for 9 months.  Their mother, who loved them.  Their mother, who wanted nothing more than to be a good mother.  To fulfill her biological matriarchal role.  But because she turned away from her faith, she was robbed of this opportunity.

She, a person whose only crime was losing faith in the religion she was raised with--TREATED AS IF SHE WAS A HARDENED CRIMINAL!  

I feel thus compelled to speak out for her, as her own voice will never be heard again.

To those who feel alone in this world.  To those who feel as if they have no companion.  You are not alone.  There are numbers you can call, people you can see, and plenty of help you can receive.  Some of it may even be cheap, if not free.  I may post in the comments (if anyone here is interested).

To anyone who thinks a friend is suffering silently.  BE THAT FRIEND.  Sometimes a simple hug may do it.  But if you know someone who needs help and they're not reaching out themselves, be that friend that reaches out for them.  They may hate you at first.  They may even decide they don't want to be your friend.  But trust me.  Better to be hated for being a good friend than being liked for being a bad friend.

And most importantly, let Deb Tambor not have passed on in vain.  Let us spread the word of why Deb felt compelled to prematurely end her life.  Let the whole world know about the scourge going on in this community she was raised in.  And let us band together and try to end this injustice once and for all.

For Deb Tambor.  For her family.  For her friends.  For everyone that loved her.

And for all the other men and women out there who have wrongfully lost custody of their children.

This post is for you.  All of you.

One member of the group I'm in was very close with her.  He has said that Deb only wanted to help others.  She wanted to make others happy.  Although she was dealt a bad hand by this world, she did not take it out on others.  Let us all follow in her example.  Let us make the world a better place in her memory.

For Deb Tambor.

All my love,
   L'etranger Acher.