Religion Magazine

Satmar Girls Converting to Christianity

By Gldmeier @gldmeier
I was completely shocked when I first saw a report about this and thought it can't be true...but now I am seeing it in a few places along with video. While it is still shocking, now it seems to be true..
It seems a number of young women from the Satmar community in New York have recently baptized themselves to Christianity. There is video of one of them, the daughter of a Hassidic Rebbe (the Dezher Rebbe) from Flatbush, Mindel Paneth - now going by the name Hayden Paneth, who went to school in the Satmar school system. A Satmar girl from Monsey named Leah Levy also did the same. Supposedly there are others - some say a total of four known who did it publicly and others say there are tens of these young women, many of whom did it privately.
I have no idea how many actually converted to Christianity. It does not really matter. Every single one is a Jewish world destroyed and even just one is a horrible tragedy. I have not heard a reason given, though some online are pointing to, and blaming, the extreme Satmar views against Zionism. It might be that or it might not be that. They have extreme views on a lot of things, not just Zionism, so without any explanation from these young women, it is really just guessing to point to one aspect of Satmar life and blame that. It also seems to be a trend, if it can be called a trend, within Satmar. I have not seen or heard about it among other groups.
I first saw it discussed in the Haredi news website Haredim10.  That made me start looking around and I saw it discussed in an online Haredi forum, and then found the following post in English (with video) about it. Then Ben Waxman posted a Maariv article about it on Twitter.
Satmar girls converting to Christianity
Very shocking and very sad.
Satmar educators are looking at these extreme acts and wondering if something in their education system needs to be changed. As one is quoted, it would be one thing if some girls just stopped living a Haredi life, went off the derech, stopped keeping mitzvos, even becoming fully secular, but converting to Christianity is a protest, an evil act, some sort of revenge against something...
I really hope the reports are exaggerated. Even though I am no fan of Satmar and would not have any problem with these girls, and many more, leaving Satmar if they don't like that lifestyle and instead adopting a different sect or stream within Judaism, it is very sad to see them leave like this.
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