Yehudit Irenstein, the mother of Esti Weinstein, the woman who took her own life after years of estrangement from her children in the Gerrer hassidic community, penned an open letter to her daughter, in which she recalls Esti's kindness and grace, and expresses hope that her story will bring greater understanding and empathy between people of different walks of life.
Irenstein also pledges that she and her husband will be "mother and father" to the late Weinstein's daughter Tammy, the only one of her children to have left the Gerrer community and religious observance with her.
Here is the text of the letter:
Our dearest Esti,
I miss you every day, every hour and every minute. It's not natural for parents to bury their daughter, and it's hard. Very hard. We didn't know you were suffering so much. You would always call to tell us how happy you are and how good things are, because you put honoring your parents above all and you didn't want to cause us any pain. That's why we never thought to take steps and find the things that would help you stay with us. When you decided to leave the fold of religious observance we hoped a day would come that you'd come back. We prayed to live to see you as you were.
We just concluded the week of mourning. Hundreds of men and women came to our house to comfort us, and they told us such amazing stories. Stories about a lovely woman. With your heart of gold, you spent all your days giving to others. To my great anguish, we didn't merit having you stay with us.
Your departure caused a storm in the land, we paid the highest price. Hopefully it will help people understand each other better.
You once said that you were our right hand. Every day, every hour, not a week went by when you didn't call and say: "Mom and Dad, come to our house for a meal." When you heard one of us wasn't feeling well, you were there in a minute. You constantly sought what was good for us. Your love for us, and ours for you, cannot be expressed in words.
I write to you with a broken heart. I can't believe you're not here with us. You were a beautiful and wise woman, a woman of kindness and empathy. You built a wonderful family and were a dedicated mother who raised her children in the most positive manner possible. I promise you that we'll be a mother and father to your Tammy and take her son into our hearts just as you asked, and we'll always keep the hope that one day they too will return to our path.