Many of you may have read Hush, a book that tells the harrowing story of a young girl named Gittel who witnesses the sexual abuse of her best friend. She does not truly understand what she has seen, only knows that it is not right and her friend is suffering. As an Orthodox Jew growing up in an extremely isolated and insular Brooklyn neighborhood, Gittel is completely unequipped to support her friend. Sexual abuse does not happen in her world; it has no name and thus cannot be identified or stopped. When Gittel’s friend commits suicide, she is torn between the love she has for her friend and the loyalty to her people and religion.
Hush is a fictionalized version of events experienced by the author when she was young. The book was published under the pseudonym of Eishes Chayil, which translates as “woman of valor.” She chose to remain anonymous to protect herself and her family from the backlash and threats she knew would come once the book was published. On August 1, this article appeared in the Huffington Post in which Chayil reveals her true name. Unable to remain silent in the wake of the recent tragic event in the Orthodox Jewish community in which she lives, Chayil chose to reveal her name in hopes that her community will finally take action against those that hurt others. This may sound like a small thing, but to a young woman who likely faces expulsion from her community as a result, it is incredibly brave. A woman of valor, indeed.
– Summer Hayes, currently reading To Timbuktu: Nine Countries, Two People, One True Story by Casey Scieska and Steven Weinberg