Judy Brown did something amazing the other day.
She shared her name.
You don’t know her?
Yes, you do. Brown wrote Hush, and it was published under the pseudonym Eishes Chayil. In my review of Hush, I said “Eishes Chayil is a pseudonym. An Author’s Note, as well as the jacket copy, explains that Chayil was raised Chassidic. It doesn’t explain why she uses a pseudonym. Maybe, like Gittel’s family, she is concerned that her extended family will suffer if she spoke publicly. Maybe the concern is not being associated with one particular sect; if she is part of x, people may say, “oh, it only happens in x, not in y.” It’s sad, though, because Hush is about Gittel finding her voice to speak up for Devory. Chayil is speaking up, is not hushed, but she cannot publicly own it the way Gittel can.”
Hush was a finalist for the 2011 Morris Award; and a Teen Honor Award Winner for the Sydney Taylor Book Awards.
Don’t worry, I’m not outing an author!
Brown shared her name in the Huffington Post, in a post called Orthodox Jewish Child Abuse: Shattering a Traumatic Silence. Brown writes, “Six months after my book, “Hush,” came out, my publisher and I began receiving threats in the mail intended to intimidate us for daring to expose these unspeakable truths about my beloved community. The message was clear: I had violated the rule that said victims must protect the community from their own crimes. Now, I would pay. . . . I refuse to continue to allow that fear to force me into hiding over a book that should have been written long ago. I no longer want to be known only as Eishes Chayil when my name is Judy Brown. I must find the courage to stand with the victims who carry the burden of our silence for the rest of their lives. I originally wrote my book under a pseudonym to protect my family and friends from community retribution, but so far we have only hurt ourselves. Maybe now, because of Leiby [Kletzky]‘s tragedy, things will change. Maybe now, we will finally teach our children what we should have taught them years ago: morality has no garb.”
Thank you, Judy Brown. Thank you for being brave enough to write Hush and to share it with the world; and thank you for sharing your name so we can say, personally to you, thank you.