Hundreds attend funeral for formerly religious woman who killed self

Hundreds are attending the Petah Tivka funeral of Esti Weinstein, a formerly ultra-Orthodox woman who was found dead in an apparent suicide over the weekend.

Weinstein, 50, was discovered at the Hakshatot Beach in the coastal city of Ashdod Sunday, bringing to an end a week of searches after she went missing. In the car with her body police discovered a short note.

“In this city I gave birth to my daughters, in this city I die because of my daughters,” Weinstein, once a member of a prominent family in Hasid Gur sect, wrote.

Eight years ago Weinstein, who had seven daughters, left the ultra-Orthodox fold, in which she had grown up and which had seen her married at 17. Only one daughter maintained contact with her

She also penned an autobiography about her experiences leaving the religious world.

Her daughter Tami Montag had asked mourners to bring flowers and songs to the funeral, fulfilling her mother’s last wish, according to the Ynet news website.

“I love you so much and will always love you,” her daughter says in a eulogy. “You were everything to me, a friend and mother.”

Members of Weinstein’s family from the Hasidic sect are also at the funeral, and as expected the sorrow is tinged with tensions between the religious and secular parts of Weinstein’s life.

“It’;s hard for me to speak about you. For me, you will always be like your first 43 years, when you were pure,” her father Rabbi Menachem Orenstein says, according to Ynet.

Weinstein’s boyfriend, though, uses his eulogy to criticize the religious community for cutting off contact with her.

“At the heart of every religion is a kernel of unity, and that’s the source of life. But unfortunately it’s turned into ideology. Don’t let any rabbi lead you to hatred and to alienation. The pain from being cut off by your kids is massive,” he says. “Those who leave religion choose freedom but the path is not easy.”

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