Hasidic woman kills herself - months after her tech executive sister jumped to her death from Manhattan rooftop bar following split from strict faith

Daily Mail, UK/November 22, 2015

By Louise Boyle

The sister of a Hasidic Jewish woman who committed suicide by jumping from a New York rooftop bar has taken her own life.

Sarah Mayer, who was also known as Suri, 31, committed suicide at her parents' home in Borough Park, Brooklyn on Sunday afternoon, friends and family said.

Sources told Daily Mail Online that she had died after an overdose on pills and the same sources also revealed she previously spent time as an in-patient at a psychiatric facility.

Miss Mayer was found at the home by her parents, the NY Daily News reported.

However, in what appear to be conflicting reports, the same paper reported a law enforcement official said the cause of death was hanging.

It is believed that a modified autopsy in line with the Hasidic faith was taking place on Sunday night.

Mayer's parents, Israel and Chava Mayer, have another daughter Este.

On July 20, Faigy Mayer, 29, leapt to her death from the 20th story 230 Fifth Rooftop Bar in the Flatiron District of Manhattan, onlookers said.

She had been brought up in the Hasidic community but left it around five years before her death.

Chaim Levin, a friend of Faigy Mayer, spoke of his grief at learning of the death of her sister Suri.

He told Daily Mail Online: 'I did not know Suri but I'm shocked. How could this have happened?'

Family sources told Daily Mail Online in July that Faigy was suffering from borderline personality disorder with paranoid tendencies and a secondary diagnosis of bi-polar disorder for which she was taking medication.

Her cousin, Finette Lerman-Russak told Daily Mail Online at the time: 'Faigy's death was a shock but sadly not a surprise.'

Lerman-Russak - who is not Hasidic - said at first she thought it seemed kinder to let people believe that Mayer's tragic suicide was due to her separation from her Hasidic roots but felt that, in the end, the truth of her unraveling through mental illness had begun many years ago.

She believed that the young woman meticulously planned her end.

'She was a manic depressive and she was going out with a bang,' Lerman-Russak said. 'She was a woman on a mission and she was trying to catch her mom's eye – and in the end she only partially succeeded.'

Her mother, Chava Mayer, told Daily Mail Online in July: 'I don't want to say anything. What am I supposed to say: That she's a wonderful person? No, we don't want to comment.'

A week before her death, Mayer sent a harrowing letter to several friends, grieving for her lonely Hasidic childhood and isolated adult life.

Faigy Mayer wrote with raw emotion about her feelings towards the strict and tight-knit world she was brought up in.

She accused the Hasidic sect of constraining its followers' thinking, and wrote of how she still struggled with analytical thinking.

In July, Daily Mail Online revealed that Faigy Mayer had battled life-long mental illness, according to a close relative.

The 29-year-old had been brought up as a strict Hasidic Jew, but had left her faith five-years before she died.

Her family claimed she was suffering a borderline personality disorder with paranoid tendencies and a secondary diagnosis of bi-polar disorder for which she was taking medication.

She grew up in Williamburg's bustling Hasidic Jew community but rejected her strict religious upbringing.

Indeed, the tech executive was developing an app designed specifically for ex-Hasids to navigate their way around New York City.

Mayer took part in a 2012 National Geographic Documentary entitled Inside Hasidism, which examined the unique pressures of the secretive religious community, which has approximately 125,000 followers in New York City alone.

Mayer explains during the course of the documentary that she eschewed Hasidism and because of that was thrown out of her home by her own parents although she says she was later reunited with them.

In the documentary she explains how she remembers having no interest in Yiddish or Hebrew from an early age.

'I wanted to transition out at a very fast speed,' said Mayer. 'And it was so challenging emotionally.'

The program covered her journey working with the group, Footsteps, which helps those who have left ultra-religious Jewish communities.

'My parents they were like, point blank, you have to get out of here because you are not religious anymore,' said Mayer who added that her parents did take her back into their home.

Hasidism: A separate life

Hasidism is an ideology within Orthodox Judaism founded in the mid-18th century in Eastern Europe, which came to be adopted by millions but was almost lost in the Holocaust.

Following the Second World War, Hasidism was brought by Jewish immigrants to the U.S. and also spread to Israel, Western Europe, Australia and Canada.

The Hasidic community observe strict religious traditions in insular communities that speak Yiddish, the language of Jews in Eastern Europe. Children speak it at home, are taught through it in school and the community supports newspapers and book publishers.

The biggest community in the United States is i Brooklyn, where an estimated 165,000 Hasids live, mostly in Borough Park, Williamsburg and Crown Heights.

Within these neighborhoods are smaller communities known as 'courts', some comprising only a few families.

Each turns to a rebbe (rabbi) for instruction in religious matters, which govern every aspect of everyday life, giving.

Each court is named after the town of their original ancestors: the Belz from modern-day Ukraine, Lubavitch, from Russia and the Bobov from modern Poland.

Each court, also referred to as a sect, has a varying take on the Hasidic lifestyle and ideology but many traditions overlap. Along with religious rituals, the Hasidic community.
has a long oral tradition of storytelling along with its own songs and dances.

Men grow long beards, have curled sidelocks and wear mostly black with long coats and hats.

From a young age, Hasidic girls are expected to cover their bodies in loose clothing from their ankles to their wrists and have high necklines.

Some sects expect women to shave their heads and wear wigs once they are married while others cover their hair with headscarves and hats.

The emphasis is on women to be quiet and obedient while observing 'zeni'ut' (modesty) rules. Women must take a ritual immersion bath called the mikveh each month after menstruation.

Couples normally meet through a matchmaker but a marriage requires the consent of both the man and woman. They are expected to marry within their community.

There is no mixing at social events among the sexes, no sharing of swimming pools at vacation spots and no co-education.

Marriages usually take place in the late teens or early twenties. In keeping with religious edicts, Hasidic Jews have large families because children are a gift from god and birth control is forbidden.

Couples have on average eight children, according to aish.com.

Hasidism have a separate school system. From pre-school boys and girls are separated in the classroom with boys adding more hours of study as they get older.

Hasidic sects differ on the level of education and career opportunities to be offered to girls.

Girls' schooling traditionally includes more English and history lessons along with religion.

Boys are educated with the Talmud, the vast, central text of Judaism.

While Hasidic men usually continue to study the Torah after they are married for several years, college is mostly out of the question.

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