Rebecca, 56, of Hewlett, said that when she told her children, who are all in their 20s, that she decided to seek a divorce a year and a half ago, their reaction was, “What took you so long?”
Not finding the support she felt she needed from a few Five Towns shuls, Rebecca founded a small support group for women in the midst of a divorce before she heard of Kadima, which was established in November of last year at the Marion and Aaron Gural JCC in Cedarhurst.
“At the time we separated, I knew I needed support,” said Rebecca, who along with the other women interviewed, declined to use her real name.
The seven women who spoke with the Herald were not embarrassed about their situations, which ranged from being divorced to the continued legal wrangling in pursuit of hammering out a marital settlement and child custody, but were fearful of possible recrimination that could be used against them in custody battles. Many of the women have had orders of protection taken out against them and used as a battering ram in their legal proceedings, they said, and endured some form of abuse.
“The legal system is not set up to be supportive, it is adversarial,” said Debra, 41, of Oceanside. “It allows for changes, threats. You can never say you are done.”
According to the Barna Research Group, 30 percent of the people who list their religion as Jewish in the U.S. have been divorced. Identifying the Jewish single-parent household as a group that needed support and services based on national figures, the JCC approached the United Jewish Appeal-Federation of New York and received a yearly grant to help up to 45 families from that organization and the Jewish Communal Fund to establish Kadima — the Hebrew word for Forward. All services are free. It is not a group for widows. Currently there are 100 members, including two men. JCC Executive Director Joel Block estimates that the programs also serves 350 children.