Anyone who believes religious traditions only oppress women in faraway places should hear my story.
I’ve just won an eight-year legal battle in Brooklyn, N.Y., to keep the house my parents left me. My brother–the first-born son of an Orthodox rabbi–claimed the religious right to evict me.
Last month Brooklyn Surrogate’s Court Judge Diana A. Johnson not only ruled the house was legally mine, but awarded me over a half a million dollars in damages from my brother for having padlocked me, just days after my father’s death, out of the family home my parents had deeded to me. For over seven years, while I racked up crushing legal fees, my brother barricaded my childhood home.
My case is not exceptional. Many Orthodox Jewish women have called me since the news of my victory was reported in the New York Post and reprinted in the Brooklyn Eagle and on various blogs. Many said they wish they had fought back as I did. These calls made me livid at those handful of U.S. rabbis and others who share my faith who routinely turn their backs on women.
Ancient Jewish law says the first-born son–the b’khor, in Hebrew–inherits a double share of his parents’ inheritance; daughters get nothing.