FAIRMONT — Although she did not realize it until she entered her teens, Fraidy Reiss had her entire life planned for her from birth.
It was simple — submit to God and live a life having children and keeping house. This was her life as a member of an ultra Orthodox Jewish community in New York City’s borough of Brooklyn.
“I was groomed, basically from infancy, to become a wife and a mother,” she said. “I attended an all-girls religious school where I received a limited education that focused on God and cooking and sewing. I actually had to sign a paper when I was in high school promising not to take driver’s education or college entrance exams.”
She was never given a choice of whether or when to marry. After high school, at the age of 19, she and her “match” were allowed to go on a limited number of supervised dates in which any form of physical contact was prohibited.
“So, I was the coolest teenage virgin who had never before been allowed to talk to a boy and I was given a matter of hours, over a period of a few weeks, to answer my family and the matchmaker and everyone standing there, watching me tapping their feet waiting for me to decide. No was never really an option,” Reiss said.
After the wedding, she discovered her new husband was violent. She cowered in silence the first time he punched his fist through a wall “in a blind rage only one week after our wedding.”