Family is one of nature’s masterpieces,” said Spanish writer George Santayana.
It can also be a fiefdom that squelches free spirits, like Faigy Mayer of Williamsburg. The 30-year-old non-conformist leapt to her death from a rooftop bar last week, after enduring years of renunciation from her ultra-conservative Hasidic family for choosing freedom over her suffocating Jewish sect.
Her father’s heart bled at her funeral.
“I’m in pain!” he cried. “I can’t get out of the pain!”
Faigy’s suicide exposes the deadly outfall of forced disaffiliation — or shunning — a pervasive and virtually ignored form of institutionalized aggression. Her death should be a wake-up call for card-carrying members of all strict religious movements that require them to disown former faithfuls — including their own flesh and blood — to uphold sham doctrines inked in nonsense. In their oppressive lithospheres, lineage, religion, family, and politics are interlocked, and any opposing view is considered an assault on their self and society, resulting in the type of cruel blackballing that sent tragic Faigy to her death.
Scientologists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and the Amish all have policies to reject apostates or believers who have left the fold, but only Muslims want them vaporized.
“Apostasy in Islam equals treason punishable by death,” says a Christian convert whose family — considered liberal in its circles — shunned her for seeking a free life in the secular world.
The former Pakistani-Muslim from Brighton Beach, a successful professional who did not want her name used, says she received the brush-off from her nearest and dearest when she tried to keep up contact.
“They had a family portrait painted that didn’t include me,” she says. “They also began speaking to me in English instead of the Punjabi I grew up with.”
She was no longer welcome at family events nor informed that her mother was dying, but the painful treatment did not stop her from rushing to help when she heard her brother had leukemia and needed a bone marrow donor, she claims.
She wasn’t a match — much to his delight.
“He told me he was relieved because he considered me polluted,” she says.
Free spirits owe it to themselves against such odds to turn the agony into ecstasy, she adds: “You have to live with your decision — and celebrate it — because there’s no turning back.”
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