Press

[Text] An adult community does not shy away from self-reflection

There is a new player in the Jewish media landscape in the Netherlands, called De Vrijdagavond – the Friday evening. A new sound and an interesting development indeed. The team approached me for an in-depth article on my work, the new versions of my books and some recent debates on the Jewish community. I think the result is excellent, so I am happy that I participated in this.

Read more in the (Dutch) article via De Vrijdagavond.

[Text & audio] DNA with sprinkles. Ordering a baby

The health tech options to get a baby on order are promising. Especially, if it turns out that healthy embryos can be created out of stem cells, a lot of women will get the opportunity to become a mother. If this technique will be commonplace, it will be revolutionary for the world. Also, there are many talks about printing ovaries and fallopian tubes.

Read more in the fascinating (Dutch) article via Ouders Van Nu, part onetwo and three. Also, listen to the podcast with Mariska van Dam to hear more about my vision for the future.

[Text] Not having children

One in ten women in the Netherlands suffers from mucous membranes that spread outside the uterus and cause inflammation, better known as endometriosis. March is endometriosis awareness month. Media woman and writer/speaker Dina-Perla Portnaar recently set up a platform about the condition that has made her infertile.

The platform she created was called Endometriose Platform and used as a tool to lobby temporarily. Whether Dina-Perla cannot have children – definitive – remains to be seen in the future.

Read more in the (Dutch) article via Famme.

[Text] VIVA 400 Good Award and trends

In 2012, Dina-Perla won the VIVA 400 Good Award for the voluntary work with domestic violence. She announced that she would write a book. See cover and body of VIVA magazine. Besides, VIVA magazine asked Dina-Perla to participate to the weekly trends section. Here are five things Dina-Perla loves. For years, Dina-Perla also attended TEDxAmsterdamWomen. Reports can be found via Frankwatching and Baaz Magazine (both online and in Dutch), but VIVA included this picture of Dina-Perla at the press table.

[Text] After abuse

Dina-Perla Portnaar is a strong woman. Despite, or actually because of, everything she’s been through. In her youth she was mentally and physically abused. This has consequences to this day. Dina-Perla fights her way up, which will rise higher than the highest mountain of mud that has fallen upon her. Maya Angelou once said it so beautifully: and still I rise.

Read more in the (Dutch) article via Gezondheid & Co.

[Text] Huis van de Wijk and Exodus uit de vuurtoren

Dina-Perla grows up in Jewish orthodoxy and a stifling reality, in which nothing is what it seems. As a young girl, Dina-Perla fights for freedom and love, flees her childhood home and decides never to return. Exodus from the lighthouse, with the main title Shadow behind and face towards the sun, is a compelling revelation and deals with Dina-Perla’s special life lessons from that turbulent period. Never before has such an entourage been described behind closed doors, including her time at the orthodox school the Cheider, so penetratingly and from the inside out as now.

Ten years after her escape, Dina-Perla is confronted with her biological childlessness and sets out to investigate. Is it possible to unravel the whole? The autobiography deals with reflective testimonies, focused on the experience of the past. From a spiritual point of view, emancipated women are born. Strong women, on the other hand, are shaped by life.

Read more in the (Dutch) article via Huis van de Wijkkrant, part one and two.

[Text] Living gracefulness as a personal guide

Living gracefulness is a philosophical and personal guide to work on yourself, with basic principles on personal growth, empowerment and spirituality. The content was inspired by the oldest psychological and spiritual work that we have in the world, called the Kabbalah. The guide also embodies a special healing process between father and daughter.

Read more in the (Dutch) article via Zinweb, which also featured a fragment of the first chapter for free. Civis Mundi and the Theosophy Association also covered Living gracefulness.

Anyone who wants to become acquainted with the basic principles of the Kabbalah and with their own wishes in an accessible manner has come to the right place. After all, every individual has the perfect picture of the perfect situation, which is not imposed by anyone or anything and which serves as a guide. This personal idea is called the life path formulation. People want to maintain happiness and well-being and of course prefer to increase both. As an effective guide in which the basic principles are explained, Living gracefulness supports the life path, without any overloading.

Based on the Kabbalah, the philosophical system of the epistempiriology has arisen. In the epistempiriology, the inner human who is independent of the doing of others, is addressed; the inner human who is able to get the best out of life. Lastly, the denomination epistempiriology consists of two scientific areas, namely epistemology – of the Greek word episteme – knowledge – and empiriology – of the Greek word empiria. Both are intertwined and theory and practice are inseparable.

Read more in the (Dutch) article via Awake Magazine, part of the Bewustzijn School.

[Text] Living gracefully and exercise

At a low point in their lives, these four women did not let it shake them. They started to exercise. Now, they feel fit and happy again. “I have never been so proud of myself.”

Read more in the (Dutch) article via Vriendin.

[Text] Escaping Jewish orthodoxy

Read Dina-Perla’s interview with Jalta below (Dutch).

Schrijfster Dina-Perla ontsnapte aan het orthodoxe Jodendom

Dina-Perla Portnaar groeide op in een streng joods-orthodoxe omgeving en schreef hierover een boek, namelijk Exodus uit de vuurtoren. Ook zat ze op het Cheider, de orthodox joodse school voor basis- en voortgezet onderwijs in de Amsterdamse wijk Buitenveldert, die vanwege een misbruikschandaal vorige week in het nieuws kwam.

Je schreef een boek over je jeugd in een strenge orthodox-joodse omgeving. Is Exodus uit de vuurtoren een roman of een autobiografie?

Het is een autobiografie en valt onder de categorie waargebeurde verhalen. Iedereen heeft andere namen, vanwege de veiligheid. Ik ben uit de situatie vrijgemaakt, maar de details kloppen. Het verhaal gaat over mij als baby, kind, tiener en jonge vrouw. Het verhaal stopt na mijn bruiloft. Het boek bevat nog nooit vertelde geschiedenissen.

Hoe ben je hierop gekomen?

Vanaf mijn tweede wist ik dat ik een boek wilde schrijven. Ik had een hele zieke moeder. Ik deed alles voor haar, de boodschappen en de zorg, maar ik was er ook geestelijk voor haar. Behalve met mijn moeder had ik ook te maken met mijn halfbroers, zoons van mijn moeder bij haar eerste man. Ik kan concluderen dat de zorg voor haar nooit professioneel is geweest. Ik had last van mijn moeders stemmingen. Haar razernij; ze heeft mij geestelijk mishandeld.

Heftige boel. En wat heeft het Cheider hiermee te maken?

Ik ging naar deze school. Mijn halfbroers ook gedurende een korte tijd. De schoolleiding wist van de problemen in ons disfunctionele gezin, maar deed onvoldoende. Het enige wat ze belangrijk vonden, was dat de buitenwereld niets te weten kwam en dat wij ons voegden naar de joodse orthodoxie. Het moraal van dit verhaal is: ik had uit huis geplaatst moeten worden. Punt. Einde verhaal.

Waar liet de school dan steken vallen?

Op mijn twaalfde werd ik weer mishandeld door mijn halfbroer. Ik heb bij de politie een melding gemaakt; ik deed geen aangifte. Dat deed ik pas op mijn achttiende, toen ik het ziekenhuis in werd geslagen. Mijn joods-orthodoxe omgeving hielp mij niet. Ik was bang voor eerwraak, omdat ik de interne problemen naar buiten had gebracht. Ik had het gevoel dat ik constant over mijn schouder moest kijken, wat tot mijn 28e ook zo was, weet ik sinds 2016.

Het Cheider en de joodse orthodoxie lijken heel beknellend. Klopt dat?

Het is een kleine, vaak warme sociale omgeving. Klein en fijn, maar ze stoppen ook veel in de doofpot. Heel belangrijk is de schijn ophouden. Mensen praten vaak niet echt met elkaar. Je wordt constant beoordeeld. De ene familie niet vroom genoeg, de andere familie is zus, weer een andere familie is zo. Er wordt veel geroddeld. Er is een verstikkende sociale controle, waarbij jouw leven nooit van jou blijkt te zijn geweest, zoals de fameuze tekst van Acda en De Munnik – ik ben mezelf of al die jaren nooit geweest.

Van half negen tot half zes zat ik op school. Ik was heel veel bezig met mijn huiswerk. Tot en met 4 VWO heb ik op het Cheider gezeten. De school bood wel houvast door de voorspelbaarheid, ook van de groep meiden waar ik jaar in jaar uit mee in de klas zat. Ik leerde over de joodse wetten en leefwijze. 4 VWO maakte ik in zeven maanden af en de docenten van Het Cheider hielpen mij om dit mogelijk te maken. Tot half elf ‘s avonds zat ik nog toetsen in te halen.

En die zedenzaak, verbaast je dat?

Ik hoorde al veel geschiedenissen van anderen, dus nee helaas. Misbruik is niet een nieuw fenomeen in de wereld, maar bestaat al eeuwenlang. Ook in mijn tijd was er geweld en misbruik, maar ook smaad en laster, brainwashing enzovoorts. Omdat ik verkering kreeg met een jongen op mijn vijftiende werd ik beschimpt. Je sociale omgeving wil bepalen met wie je wel en niet mag omgaan en trouwen. Op mijn vijftiende werd ik naar CrownHeights in New York gestuurd, waar veel orthodoxe joden wonen. Dit door de familie, schoolleiding en diverse joodse relaties. De bedoeling was dat ik daar in die omgeving, de joodse mores zou leren, zodat ik niet van het ‘juiste’ pad zou gaan. Ik werd voorbereid op een dwanghuwelijk, want als je getrouwd bent met een persoon die voor je uitgekozen is, voeg je je naar de wetten van je sociale omgeving.

Het Cheider keek naar wat je buiten school deed en met wie je omging. Men lette op je kleding. Je mocht niet werelds zijn. Mijn moeder was ook heel streng-religieus, zeg maar gerust fundamentalistisch. Ze knipte joodse woorden en letters uit, want die waren heilig. Mijn moeder was sociaal volkomen geïsoleerd. Ze wilde mij daarin meetrekken. Ik had geen telefoon en geen internet. Met mijn niet-joodse buren had ik letterlijk signalen afgesproken en seinde ik vanachter het raam in mijn kamer, bijvoorbeeld als het weer mis ging en ik op dat moment niet kon vluchten voor het geweld.

Het Cheider faalde. De schoolleiding is bij ons thuis geweest en zag in levende lijve wat ik nooit in een paar zinnen aan jou zou kunnen uitleggen. Het enige wat er gezegd werd, ondanks dat sommige dossiers bekend waren, was dat de televisie het huis uit moest en dat ik niet met goijsche, dus niet-joodse kinderen mocht omgaan, want die hadden een slechte invloed op mij. De rabbijn van Cheider die mij naar New York stuurde, schreef ook een brief aan Jeugdzorg en sprak met de vertegenwoordiger. De boodschap was dat mijn veiligheid en welzijn ondergeschikt waren aan die van de gemeenschap. En dat een ‘neutrale organisatie zoals de uwe’ mij niet van mijn joodse identiteit mocht afhouden. Een keuze die enkel en alleen bij mij hoorde te liggen en bij niemand anders. De buitenwereld werd als een bedreiging gezien.

Hoe overleefde je deze verstikkende omgeving?

Ik probeerde vast te houden aan alles wat normaal was en waar ik keihard voor knokte. Dat deed ik met alle vreugde die ik uit mijzelf kon halen. Het doen van boodschappen bij de Albert Heijn werd mijn uitje. Buurjongens en -meisjes werden vrienden. De televisie werd mijn gids voor de normale wereld, totdat het toestel inderdaad bij het grofvuil werd gezet. Meerdere keren per week was ik in de AKO Beethovenstraat en de bibliotheek op het Roelof Hartplein te vinden, waar ik van alles over de wereld las. Op het MLA genoot ik van de diverse groep klasgenoten. Uitgaan was voor mij een groter feest dan voor menig anderen. Mijn relatie met Max werd een baken. Ik deed alles met hem samen om de situatie toen te verbeteren en er uiteindelijk uit te komen. Ook bleef ik extreem mijn best doen op school. Een goede opleiding zag ik als de enige toegangskaart om uit dit web te geraken.

Die opstandigheid snap ik, maar veel kinderen voegen zich natuurlijk naar hun sociale omgeving. Waarom jij niet?

Ik kan ook boven de muren kijken die om mij heen werden gebouwd. Daarbij luisterde ik naar mijn interne kompas en analyseerde ik constant met mijn intellect toen ik er middenin zat. Ik weet dat dit niet standaard is en bij de hooggevoeligheid of -begaafdheid hoort, net zoals een filmisch geheugen. Geloof mij, hier zit het probleem dan ook met dit soort bubbels: als klein meisje wist ik dat dit niet mijn pad was. Je weet het heus wel en toch word je erin gedwongen, met lange termijn diverse soorten gevolgen vandien. Op het moment dat je eruit probeert te stappen, wordt er aan je getrokken. Soms komen mensen terug, omdat ze zich niet staande weten te houden in de civiele maatschappij, zeker wanneer ze geen opleiding of inkomen hebben. Dit komt bijvoorbeeld ook terug in de documentaire One Of Us. Vandaar dat ik thuis kapot moest worden gemaakt en tegengewerkt op het moment dat ik schooltoetsen had. Van de omstandigheden tijdens mijn eindexamenweek kan niemand zich echt een voorstelling maken, alleen Max en zijn familie die dit van dichtbij hebben meegemaakt. Ik heb de details niet opgenomen in het boek, zoals ik zoveel niet heb opgenomen. Het is immers een versimpelde en verzachte selectie…

Het klinkt als een sekte. Is Het Cheider een sekte?

Er zijn kenmerken van een sekte. Het Cheider heeft, lang na mijn overstap naar het Montessori Lyceum Amsterdam, contact gelegd met mijn profielleider die mij had aangenomen en hem een hele reeks vragen gesteld over mijn leven, alsof ik hun bezit was. Ze wilden bijvoorbeeld weten of ik de joodse wetten nog wel volgde, of ik nog steeds een relatie had met Max en meer. Nog altijd ben ik met hem in contact. Pas in de onderzoeksfase van dit boek hoorde ik wat er daadwerkelijk gebeurd was. Ik heb ongelooflijk veel mensen gesproken die ervoor gezorgd hebben dat ik allemaal zaken kon ontrafelen. Ik zal die man altijd dankbaar blijven voor de wijze waarop hij de boot afhield toen Het Cheider dit probeerde en voor hoe hij mij zonder dat ik het wist, destijds in bescherming heeft genomen.

Ten aanzien van seksualiteit was men ook ontzettend star. Jongens en meisjes krijgen apart les. Over ‘het intieme leven’ leert men net voordat men gaat trouwen. En er was een docent die ons leerde: ‘Iedere keer dat een joodse vrouw een lichaamsdeel ontbloot dat bedekt hoort te zijn, gaat er iemand van ons volk in Israël dood.’ Het klinkt misschien grappig, maar laten we eerlijk zijn: dit soort dogma’s kan ook heel gevaarlijk uitpakken.

Toen ik voor het eerst ongesteld raakte, kreeg ik ontzettende pijnen. Mijn moeder wilde eerst niks doen, maar omdat ik het uitschreeuwde, is de huisarts uiteindelijk gebeld. Hij zei dat de pil geen gekke zou zijn, maar dat wilde mijn moeder niet. De pil stond gelijk aan prostitutie en mijn kroon als joodse vrouw mocht niet afgepakt worden. Ik bleek echter een chronische aandoening te hebben waar de pil een uitkomst voor bood. In 2013 werd ik geopereerd. Omdat dit veel te laat was, ben ik hierdoor biologisch kinderloos geworden. Ik zal er nooit flauw over doen, maar van misbruik, geweld, smaad en laster, brainwashing en dergelijke kun je als individu zeker terugkomen. Je kunt het veranderen. Nogmaals, ik zal de laatste zijn die zal beweren dat het makkelijk is, want het duurt meestal een heel leven, maar het kan zeer zeker wel. Biologisch kinderloos zijn, kan ik niet meer veranderen, tenzij de positieve ontwikkelingen op het gebied van healthtech zeer snel zullen vorderen. Ik kan alleen mijn gedachten en attitude veranderen. Daarbij houdt het individu de beschadiging / vorming altijd bij zich. Afhankelijk van iemands helingsproces en een hele reeks subfactoren – nature en nurture – kan een voorgeschiedenis iemands kracht worden en tot iets positiefs worden omgebogen. Maar na vele gesprekken met diverse soorten mensen weet ik nu ook als geen ander dat er altijd een stukje in het individu overblijft waar buitenstaanders niets van kunnen begrijpen. Zaken hebben zich immers wel feitelijk voorgedaan, woorden zijn namelijk wel uitgesproken enzovoorts, enzovoorts.

Hoe sta je nu tegenover je joods-orthodoxe omgeving?

Ik snap veel zaken in de context van de naoorlogse periode. Er is veel geleden in de Tweede Wereldoorlog. Er zijn 6 miljoen mensen vermoord. Wat er kapot is gemaakt, is onvoorstelbaar en valt niet te vergelijken met menig ander leed in de wereld. De groep is zwaar beschadigd door de eeuwen heen en dat is soms deels naar binnen geklapt. Zaken worden niet besproken. Er liggen overal taboes op. Ik heb echt nul vertrouwen in velen van ‘de oude garde’. In deze tijd van #MeToo moeten jongere generaties de kar gaan trekken. Zij zijn degenen die die patronen kunnen doorbreken en de boel kunnen opschonen door transparantie, heling en transformatie. Dit ook in het kader van de zedenzaak op het Cheider, waarbij Ephraim S wordt verdacht van misbruik van meerdere jongens. Groei voor ons allemaal is het enige wat er in mij opkomt. Waar is dit alles anders dan goed voor? Oprechtheid en niet alleen politiek bedrijven, zoals nu al parten speelt. Iedereen, maar letterlijk iedereen hoort het unaniem met elkaar eens te zijn: nooit, maar dan ook nooit meer. Niet zo’n zedenzaak, niet een verdrinkend kalf waar van wordt weggekeken zoals bij mij, niet de machtsstructuren en niet het individuele leed van wat voor misstanden dan ook. Unaniem en met terugwerkende kracht richting slachtoffers, ook wel overwinnaars zoals ik hen noem: erkenning, respect, gratie en lering voor de toekomst. Nogmaals, nooit meer.

Maar hoe los je deze problemen in de toekomst op?

In het Nederlands-Israëlitisch Kerkgenootschap (NIK) heb ik een leider gevonden toen ik een aantal oplossingen aandroeg, waaronder een anoniem meldpunt voor delicten, zoals andere kerkgenootschappen en sportbonden dat ook hebben. Ook is er een vertrouwenscommissie van vrouwen, die elkaar en de gezinnen kunnen helpen. Nu doen zij onder de radar goede dingen voor elkaar in plaats van dat zij erkend worden door de joodse leiders. Zo’n vertrouwenscommissie zou tegengewicht kunnen bieden aan de mannelijke rabbijnen. Verder vind ik dat er een nieuw bestuur moet komen op Het Cheider, ook met capabele vrouwen / docenten die hun leven toegewijd hebben aan deze gemeenschap. Ik vind dat de huidige directeur samen met nog een aantal anderen de ruimte moet nemen om naar de pijnpunten te kijken en zaken op te lossen. Vervolgens vind ik dat Het Cheider symbolisch gesloten moet worden, om een streep te zetten onder werkelijk waar alles en niet alleen de zedenzaak. Met nieuwe oplossingen, waarbij mensenrechten op microniveau vanuit educatie / onderwijs, seksualiteit, welzijn en gezondheid, cultuur, inclusie, dwang en meer centraal staan, kan deze school en dit deel van de gemeenschap floreren. Met andere woorden, een duurzame joodse identiteit. En als ik dan toch bezig ben met roepen wat ik vind: haal dat fort van een omheining om het schoolgebouw toch in hemelsnaam weg! Bescherming en afbakening in de vorm van een hek kan ook op een andere manier. In mijn tijd stemde de oprichter van Het Cheider, namelijk meneer Cohen, in met ijzerdraad. Laat duidelijk zijn dat entiteiten zoals Het Cheider slechts een stukje van de gehele samenleving vormen en dat alles verbonden is.

[Text] The desire for freedom

The extra-large summer issue of De Groene Amsterdammer is about the desire for liberation. The team asked me to talk about the four stages that women go through when leaving closed-up communities. The phase of wrestling, of the direct response to where they come from, of the most authentic self and of the status quo, in which where they come from does no longer play a major role in everyday choices and interaction with others. This theme is also key in the lectures and readings that I will provide just after the summer. I am very much looking forward to it.

[Video] Ode to my grandmother: we both fought hard in our lives

Each week, a woman pays tribute to a deceased loved one in ‘An ode to you’. This week, Dina-Perla Portnaar pays tribute to her deceased grandmother. In their youth, both Dina-Perla and her grandmother were victims of domestic violence. A bond of trust developed on the ruins of their unhappy childhood. Dina-Perla can only think of one person to whom she wants to dedicate her ode: her support and rock, namely her grandmother.

Watch the (Dutch) video via Telegraaf TV.

[Text] Searching pen with raison d’être

A biological child, that’s all I did it for. The last piece of the puzzle to counterbalance where I come from, to do better than what I have experienced myself. That’s why I woke up every day. That is why I ran at full speed in my work for years. That’s why I enjoyed trading short-term pleasure for long-term responsibility. That’s how I was programmed.

Read more in the (Dutch) opinion piece ‘Searching pen with raison d’être’ via Trotse Moeders.

Not becoming a biological mother is such a contrarian thing to me. Never in my life have I been so calm as now. I enjoy how I organize my life, what I determine for myself and especially what kind of surprises come my way. I’m sure there will be more and more, if only because the current times offer so many possibilities. As a humanist, I stubbornly cling to goodness, looking at the developments surrounding diversity, emancipation and the enrichment that could result.

Read more in the (Dutch) opinion piece ‘Follow-up, closure and Mother’s Day’ via Trotse Moeders.

[Text] Exodus uit de vuurtoren, high profile memoirs

Trotse Moeders, Proud Mothers, sat down with Dina-Perla to talk about writing, life and Exodus from the lighthouse, Exodus uit de vuurtoren, high profile memoirs. Dina-Perla talks about breaking taboos, which is something she lives by every single day and about her view on religion nowadays.

Read more in the (Dutch) article via Trotse Moeders.

[Text] About endometriosis

Endometriosis is a relatively unknown condition. Nevertheless, at least ten percent of the women in the Netherlands suffer from it to a greater or lesser extent. The blood from the uterine lining collects in other places in the abdomen, which can lead to painful periods, intestinal problems, abdominal pain and reduced fertility, among other things.

Read more in the (Dutch) article via Mijn Geheim.

[Text] How communications and transparency can break down closed bastions

Dina-Perla Portnaar wrote about her orthodox Jewish youth which was overshadowed by violence in the book called Exodus from the Lighthouse, Exodus uit de vuurtoren. She goes beyond the setting of the community, talking about the world of communications.

Read more in the (Dutch) article via Adformatie.

[Text] Dry January

Truth be told that Dina-Perla never drinks, or almost never. Giving up alcohol during dry January wasn’t a big deal at all. However, she talked about it via the Telegraph and via Radio Veronica, in the daily show of Dutch anchor Giel Beelen, to promote the autobiography Exodus from the lighthouse, Exodus uit de vuurtoren.

Read more in the (Dutch) article via Telegraaf, the Dutch Telegraph.

[Text] Taboo around an unsafe childhood

Talking about an unsafe childhood is difficult. There is a huge taboo around it. Journalist Suzanna Timmer, who herself experienced an unsafe childhood, interviews Dina-Perla Portnaar. Dina-Perla grew up in an ultra-Orthodox Jewish family and experienced violence from a very young age: “I was told I was a whore and a child of the devil. I was cursed, ugly, a profiteer and didn’t deserve to live.”

Read more in the (Dutch) article via Mynd.

[Text] Tatum Dagelet interviews free spirited Dina-Perla

Tatum Dagelet was Dina-Perla’s neighbor in the Wouwermanstraat. She lived there with Ruud de Wild, her husband at the time. Now she sits down with Dina-Perla to talk about her debut novel called Exodus from the lighthouse, Exodus uit de vuurtoren and the memories of her youth.

Read more in the (Dutch) article via Zie Oud Zuid. The magazine also gives away a first edition of the book.

[Text] Remembering grandmother

In this section, we interview people about the drastic loss of their loved one. It can be a sister or brother, a daughter, father, child, girlfriend and so on. Each loss is specific and cannot be compared with another. During the interview, people tell how they experienced their mourning period, but also how they remember their loved one. “I would like to pay tribute to my grandmother. She was one of the most important people in my life and she still is,” says Dina-Perla Portnaar when we talk to her about her grandmother. Her grandmother Raymonde, the mother of Dina-Perla’s mother, passed away two and a half years ago of old age and after a very eventful life. Dina-Perla adored her, even though they didn’t see each other often. We speak with Dina-Perla about the important exemplary role her grandmother fulfilled for her. “Like my grandmother, I follow my internal compass no matter what. I am nobody’s property, remain emancipated and ultimately just want to be human.”

Read more in the (Dutch) article via Remember me. Dina-Perla also talked about her grandmother in Libelle. She was a super grandma.

[Text] How orthodoxy won

In the documentary ‘One of Us’, three young people try to survive outside the ultra-Orthodox community. “The price for freedom is really high.”

Read more in the (Dutch) article via TROUW.

[Text] Closed up communities are not always safe for women

In Exodus, the fourth episode of the KRO-NCRV series The Apostate, the youth of the Jewish Dina-Perla Portnaar is examined. She managed to escape from a life of violence and abuse of power within the Orthodox Jewish community in Amsterdam. “At that time, people had to die before the police intervened.”

Read more in the (Dutch) article via Nederlands Dagblad.

Dina-Perla also wrote an opinion piece on the matter: how a closed-up religious community can still be safe for women. Closed-up religious communities are not always safe for women. This requires a strong position for women, in leadership or close to the leaders.

Read more in the (Dutch) article via Nederlands Dagblad.

[Audio] Zware Prietpraat

Prem kicks off the new working week at midnight. Every Monday from 00:00 to 02:00 CET. Here is a selection of the episodes with Dina-Perla.

Listen via NPO Radio 1. Episode 1episode 2episode 3 and episode 4.

[Text] HUMAN and free thinking

Leaving the faith you grew up with and with which you were entwined: these people could not do differently. It was never easy.

Read more in the (Dutch) article via the Humanistisch Verbond. It was linked to a television production created by HUMAN. For example, here is what the Groene, TROUW and the Volkskrant had to say about it.

[Text] Matters should not be swept under the rug

Dina-Perla Portnaar grew up in an Orthodox Jewish environment in Amsterdam. At home, she was physically and psychologically abused by her half-brother and mother. Her school, the Cheider, a school for the orthodox community in Amsterdam, was aware, but did not intervene adequately. WNL spoke extensively with her.

Read more in the (Dutch) article via WNL.

[Audio] What can’t stand the light of day?

In What can’t stand the light of day, radio makers look for beautiful stories. News, but also the dark side of current affairs and society are the focus. They are supervised by NPO Campus. NPO Campus scouts, trains and guides the new radio talents of the Netherlands. NPO Campus offers talent the opportunity to evolve into a distinctive, recognizable voice on one of the radio stations of the public broadcaster. If you want to contribute ideas and provide input, check our Facebook page or Twitter via #nachtlicht. If you have the ambition to become a presenter on NPO Radio 1, check www.npocampus.nl and read how you can register.

Listen to the interview on Exodus from the lighthouse, Exodus uit de vuurtoren via NPO Radio 1.

[Audio & text] Fled home and cut off all contact

Dina-Perla Portnaar grew up in a strict orthodox Jewish environment in Amsterdam. At home, she was more or less terrorized by her mentally ill mother and her half-brother. At fifteen, she decided to go to a ‘normal’ secondary school, instead of the Cheider, the only Jewish Orthodox school in the Netherlands. When she was eighteen, she fled home and cut off all contact. Fourteen years after this defining moment, she has written her story in her book called Exodus from the Lighthouse, Exodus uit de vuurtoren. Read more in the (Dutch) article via EenVandaag and listen to the audio via NPO Radio 1.

[Text] Abuse in nice streets

Child abuse not only occurs in isolated families in anonymous neighborhoods, but also in nice streets and within closed-up communities. Such as in the Jewish Orthodox community in Amsterdam, where Dina-Perla Portnaar had been terrorized by her unstable mother since her early childhood. Nobody intervened.

Read more in the (Dutch) article via RTL Nieuws.

[Video & text] Pushing back

From the window of her home in Amsterdam’s Van Baerlestraat, Dina-Perla Portnaar looks out onto the street where she grew up. “I literally look down on my old life.” The symbolism is evident, because she had to free herself not only from the strict Orthodox Jewish environment from which she came, but also from her psychologically disturbed mother.

Read the (Dutch) article via NH Nieuws and watch the video.

[Text] Coming out

In her book Exodus from the lighthouse, Exodus Uit De Vuurtoren, Dina-Perla Portnaar describes how she escaped from the Orthodox Jewish environment in which she grew up. “It’s my coming out.”

Read more in the (Dutch) article via Het Parool.

[Text] Epistempiriology

On Sunday 27 May 2018, Dina-Perla Portnaar launched her second book, Living gracefulness, Levende sierlijkheid at the Amsterdam Bookstore. Living Gracefulness is a 30,000-word guide to work on yourself and it connects to both the private and business life. The method is called epistempiriology, which addresses the inner human who can get the best out of life, completely independent of the doings of others.

Read the (Dutch) article via the Risk & Compliance Platform. See also the book section.

[Text] Debut

Many of our senior editors and bloggers are also book writers. Nils de Heer, for example, has published the books Bankspeak and The pain bench, in which he discusses the problems at Rabobank. Marc Pierar has gone on a completely different lane and writes books about the future. He started off with The Nomad of the Road and has already finalized five books with his main character Aziz Dijkstra, the Puzzle Man as he is called by his colleague detectives. Blogger Tony de Bree is known as the author of several management books, including Can it fly? about the trajectory from an idea to a successful startup. Dina-Perla Portnaar who you may know from Risk TV is our latest addition with her debut novel Exodus from the Lighthouse, Exodus uit de vuurtoren.

Read more in this (Dutch) article via the Risk & Compliance Platform. See also the book section.

[Text] Transparency is the hardest thing

Companies should open their doors every two months to customers, local residents, politicians and other interested parties. That’s what entrepreneur and communication specialist Dina-Perla Portnaar believes. According to Dina-Perla, companies can thus ensure greater transparency. Together with others, they can come up with new solutions to possible problems.

Read more in the (Dutch) article via Management Impact.

[Text] Passionate work makes misbehavior impossible

Managers could initiate a conversation with their employees at the level of their inner self, because that’s when they get inspiration within organizations. According to writer Dina-Perla Portnaar, companies and individuals can use even more life force and they should work together more in the field of personal development. Portnaar wrote a book about it: Living Gracefulness, Levende sierlijkheid.

Read more in the (Dutch) article via Management Impact.

[Audio] Breaking with our parents’ traditions

We all grow up with the ideas and traditions of our parents, which we often carry with us for a lifetime. But what if those ideas no longer suit us? Coen Verbraak speaks with three guests in De Publieke Tribune Radio, who have said goodbye to the traditional religions of their upbringing.

When did the first cracks appear in their worldview and what made them decide to leave that life? How do you choose your own path without cutting off your family? And how do you deal with that loss if staying in touch does not work?

Dina-Perla left the Orthodox Jewish community and is now a spiritual humanist. She grew up with her mother and half-brother, with whom she no longer is in touch.

Do you have a question for the broadcast? Send it in.

[Text] NINA magazine, Het Laatste Nieuws

When the documentary One Of Us went viral via Netflix, the orthodox Jewish community went for an interview with Oprah Winfrey on OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network. Now that the series Unorthodox is a success on Netflix once more, the ‘orthodox feminist’ Rivka Slonim, linked to Chabad.org provides talks worldwide to discuss the series and support orthodox Jewish life. Dina-Perla watched such a discussion broadcasted via Zoom.

Dina-Perla understands that it is an important counter reaction that needs to take place. Fact is that Dina-Perla would never criticize orthodox Jewish life as such and for the sake of it. Fact also remains that coercion and different mechanisms and patterns that do not serve humanity keep on existing. Those can have a lifelong, or even transgenerational impact if you will. Coercion is the darkest force there is, whatever the ‘flavour’ or ‘scale’ may be. Nina Magazine, part of Het Laatste Nieuws, interviewed Dina-Perla on this (in Dutch), which – like always – Dina-Perla tried to do with as much grace as possible. You can expand your knowledge by reading Dina-Perla’s book Exodus uit de vuurtoren, Schaduw achter en gezicht naar de zon (Dutch). Supporting artists who bring light into dark places means supporting change. Have a look at her books.

[Video] Chief Spiritual Officers: Caring for the human spirit with integrity, grace and safety

Spiritual care delivery has proven beneficial to patients, families and front-line healthcare providers, especially in times of COVID-19. As the negative stressors continue to rise, the need for a compassionate and caring presence becomes all the more apparent. However, there is a lack of Chaplaincy representation at the highest organizational levels, which entails many risks. This is a global issue – in fact, in all sorts of institutions. For example, if we would do a search on ‘Chief Spiritual Officer’ via LinkedIn, not a whole lot of results would show up.

‘Chief Spiritual Officers: advocating for spiritual care leadership’ was the central theme of the digital round table / panel discussion on 25th February 2021. In other words, caring for the human spirit with integrity, grace and safety. We examined how best to define the Chief Spiritual Officer, the qualifications for assuming a spiritual leadership role and how this impacts advocating for spiritual care delivery in hospice and in other organizational structures.

Read more via the Risk & Compliance Platform.

[Video & text] Free thinker exposition Amsterdams Museum

I am extremely proud that my work as a freethinker is included in the exhibition of the Amsterdams Museum. I am about to join the opening. Let me share something with you that has to do with the exhibition.

The newest edition of Dina-Perla’s Passion Punch is dedicated to the Netflix production ‘My unorthodox life’ about a blended family breaking free from a Jewish orthodox community in the US. It is about the backlash that the production caused. Mostly, it is about the fundament of old works created by men many centuries ago, dictating current everyday life in these sorts of closed-up communities. I provide some quotes of the Shulchan Aruch to make this tangible. However, no goal, no religion, no belief system, no land, no nothing is worth losing our humanity, which seems so obvious in the secular or civil parts of society – thus to the majority of people. Yet, unfortunately this principle is still necessary to live by and to protect with the many risks and unnecessary personal suffering happening within closed-up communities until today.

Read more in the (Dutch) article via Nieuw Wij.

[Text] Endometriosis: much more than just menstruation pain

More attention for endometriosis, more research into the condition and more understanding of the pain that endo women have, that is what endo woman Dina-Perla Portnaar is striving for. This chronic condition affects 1 in 10 women in the Netherlands.

The Endometriose Platform she created back in the days was used as a tool to lobby temporarily. Read more in the (Dutch) article via Gezondheid & Co.

[Text] You and your pet

Gischmo is named after the neighbor’s cat, who has suddenly disappeared. Dina-Perla thought it was such a sweet animal that she named her own cat after him.

Read more in the (Dutch) article via Vriendin.

[Text] Endo-what?

Ever heard of endometriosis? The entire month of March is dominated by the painful condition that can cause infertility for women. Dina-Perla had to experience this herself. Endometriosis has not only caused her physical pain. “After trying to conceive artificially for a long time, I have to accept that I cannot bear a child myself.”

Read more in the (Dutch) article via Fun X.

[Text] Walking saved my life

For most people walking is just a moment of relaxation, or maybe something they don’t even think about. For Dina-Perla, walking saved her life. It provides the feeling of being alive, fully connected and of deep joy. It is experienced as meditation and spiritual practice.

Read more in the (Dutch) article via the Telegraaf, the Dutch Telegraph.

[Video] Dutch elections 2021

The Netherlands went to vote on Wednesday 17th March 2021 for the elections to the House of Representatives. Voting was also possible in the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. It was on Dina-Perla’s birthday. She voted for Mona Keijzer who does excellent work in the domain of innovation, start-ups and tech. Voting is not a given, so it needs to be celebrated fully.

Watch the (Dutch) video via Telegraaf TV.

[Text] Healing force of animals

Animals give so much joy. There’s a massive healing force that animals have.

Read more in the (Dutch) article via RTL Nieuws.

[Text] Break the cycle of violence and isolation

‘I knew; it will get better sometime’. Dina-Perla fled from her violent, strict Orthodox Jewish mother to childhood sweetheart Max. She would later start a family with him to break the cycle of violence and isolation. But due to a severe form of endometriosis, a pregnancy did not occur.

Read more in the (Dutch) article via Jan magazine.

[Text] Endometriosis Awareness Month

Endometriosis Awareness Month is an annual happening in March. A lot of people have never heard of endometriosis, let alone have any understanding of the impact is has on every single aspect in life. This is a personal story on what it means to live with endometriosis and what the consequences are.

Read more in the (Dutch) article via Telegraaf, the Dutch Telegraph.

[Text] Safety and the Cheider

Telegraaf talks about the case of alleged sexual abuse at the Cheider, the lack of safety and the book Exodus from the lighthouse, Exodus uit de vuurtoren.

Read more in the (Dutch) article via Telegraaf.

There was also a panel in which Dina-Perla talked about the long-term result of an unsafe upbringing.

Read more in the (Dutch) article via Telegraaf.

[Text] Fertility and endometriosis

Endo what? When the endometrium – mucous membrane – that is in the uterine cavity, extends outside the uterus, we speak of endometriosis, from first to fourth degree – depending on how severe it is. This causes complications: for example, if endometriosis starts to stick to the intestines, intestinal problems and pain with defecation can arise. Or when endometriosis sticks to the ovaries, fertility problems can occur.

Read more in the (Dutch) article via Women’s Health.

[Text] Most inspiring people of the year

Dina-Perla was named as one of the most inspiring people of the year by Fonk magazine. Why? Dina-Perla is a go-getter who knows what she wants. Her motto is: if you put your mind to it you can accomplish anything. She does not give up until she makes it happen. She is a role model who will bring much more to the world. At the same time, Dina-Perla was also nominated for the Joke Smit Award. She won the VIVA 400 Good Award in 2012 and was nominated for the Engaging Woman Of The Year and the Communications Professional Of The Year in the past.

Read more in the (Dutch) article via Fonk magazine.

[Video & text] Let’s talk freedom

Dina-Perla Portnaar grows up in Jewish orthodoxy and a reality in which nothing is what it seems. As a young girl, she fights for freedom and love, flees her parental home and decides never to return. Exodus from the Lighthouse, Exodus uit de vuurtoren covers Dina-Perla’s life lessons from that eventful period. In the Netherlands, such an entourage behind closed doors, including her time at the orthodox school the Cheider, has not yet been described from the inside as it is now.

Read more in the (Dutch) article via Nieuw Wij. Nieuw Wij also covered on Exodus via KRO-NCRV and Vrijdenkers via HUMAN. See also for example Boeddistisch Dagblad.

[Text] Lobby around endometriosis

Gerlise Teseling and Dina-Perla Portnaar lobbied for more attention for endometriosis in order to support women and people involved, for connection with society. A petition was signed by a lot of people and presented to the ministers. There were many roundtable discussions with politicians and stakeholders, including Endometriose in balans. The matter still needs much more attention, support and mostly, sustaining solutions. We are allowed to conclude: endometriosis is a b*tch.

Read more in the (Dutch) petition. It was also covered by Europa Nu – Europe Now and De Nederlandse grondwet – The Dutch Constitution.

[Text] Growth and forgiveness

Author Dina-Perla Portnaar fled domestic violence and now shares her life lessons about injustice, growth and forgiveness. Read more in the (Dutch) article via Zuid, cover and body.

[Text] Confrontation with violence

Dina-Perla Portnaar was confronted with violence at an early age. At home, she was abused. At school, she did not get the support she hoped for. She decided to write about it. De Kanttekening spoke with her.

Read more in the (Dutch) article via De Kanttekening.

[Text] Speaking about Unorthodox and One of Us is hopeful

As said previously: transparancy is the hardest thing there is, if only because we cannot be transparent and sweep things under the rug. This applies to any situation, especially within closed-up communities. So let me stick to transparency and grace in my response to the recently published interview with Rabbi Yanki Jacobs by Chantal Suissa. This conversation is about the successful Netflix series called Unorthodox, in which the Jewish Orthodox Satmar community comes into the picture.

Chabad

Similar to Yanki Jacobs, I am not from the Satmar community, but I know it from up close. I grew up in a family in which various Jewish movements were mixed together, with the Hasidic movement Chabad as main one, as is the case with Yanki Jacobs. In fact, Yanki Jacobs’ mother went to the same Jewish Orthodox school for girls that my mother went to and I was later taught by his mother at the only Jewish Orthodox school that we have in the Netherlands, namely the Cheider.

Not an end in itself

To me, Chantal Suissa is a parter-in-crime in the much-needed domain of diversity and inclusivity in our society, a friend and someone I respect. I think it is cool of her and partly justified that she facilitated a different opinion via Nieuw Wij in response to the Netflix series Unorthodox.

Justified, because we all need to realize that art is about expression. Unorthodox is one story, just as my book Exodus from the lighthouse, Shadow behind and face towards the sun is one story, even though there are many similar stories that speak for themselves. Those who investigate will find more, for example the books by Chaïm Potok and Pearl Abraham and also the recent autobiography Cut me loose by Leah Vincent. Previously, Netflix released the documentary One of Us and there is a documentary by Anna Wexler that is also called Unorthodox and that can be seen via YouTube.

Regardless of what we are talking about, we should never, ever, ever measure everyone by the same standards and make generalizations. This also applies to other communities, such as the Christian and Muslim community. In other words, there are beautiful people within the Jewish Orthodox community, who are allowed to fully choose how they want to live, as long as it does not harm others and they comply with civil laws and regulations. And my criticism of the Jewish orthodoxy is certainly not an end in itself.

Transgenerational consequences

Immediately after the success of One of Us, the Jewish Orthodox community arranged an interview with Oprah Winfrey for Supersoul Sunday. Now again: since the success of Unorthodox, a lot of time has been invested in PR to respond worldwide. For example, Rivka Slonim, linked to Chabad, has given many international presentations to transmit how she deals with these productions as an ‘orthodox feminist’. I attended such a Zoom meeting, with a mix of support and annoyance.

Coming back to the response of Yanki Jacobs via Nieuw Wij: no matter how many good things he conveyed in that piece, it is much too easy to put things into perspective this way. It also completely ignores the biggest problem within closed-up communities, namely coercion, with all its (transgenerational) consequences. That is why I really believe it is hopeful that we speak in the public debate about Unorthodox and One Of Us on Netflix.

After all, maybe the damage and consequences of orthodoxy and coercion in my life and in the lives of many others may not have been in vain at a collective level. Who knows, we may be able to prevent in the (near) future more and more, through transparency and stories like these in the public debate. We may be able to stop mechanisms that no longer serve a purpose and that stand in the way of humanity or existence.

Blocking spirituality

Coercion is in the dangerous dogmas, brainwashing, rules of faith and the steps that need to be in synch with everyone. Coercion is embedded in (ultra-) orthodoxy and is even more complex within Jewish orthodoxy, because of post-war suffering which is folded in the community and the unresolved inter-human trauma. Coercion is not only about seriously disturbed family ties, but about the way religion is experienced. In my personal life, I know both. I dare say that it is very difficult to know where illness or disturbed family ties end and where religion begins. Everything merges, strengthens and maintains each other. There are no boundaries.

Coercion is in having no choice or freedom. Coercion is how some use religion to put men versus women in disadvantageous positions opposite each other. Coercion is how many, especially in the past, have been married off and how everyone in the orthodoxy condemns each other’s family on piety, background, status and other matters under the heading ‘suitable for the marriage market and a future Jewish nest’. Coercion is physical and mental violence, repressed sexuality and lack of education, information, social contribution or resources. Coercion is fighting for life. Coercion is no mixing in and therefore no acceptance, diversity and inclusivity. Coercion is a web with its own power structures, in which someone is pulled if that person wants to step out, or is worked against. Coercion is not being able to decide on one’s own body, mind and course in life. Coercion is no self-regulation and humor, not admitting mistakes, a smoke screen of love, looking away from abuses and indeed sweeping things under the rug. Coercion causes people to go 180 degrees the other way in the long run and cultivate an aversion for the orthodox environment they come from. Coercion ensures that the experience of religion blocks pure and individual spirituality.

Steering starts at a young age

It should be clear by now that I am staying away from concrete stories and am only giving the general outline with grace and without wanting to be suggestive. After all, if you want a concrete story, you can read my book or similar stories. The biggest problem with coercion is that steering starts at a young age. Children grow up in a certain way. Although they quickly sense at their core whether or not this really suits them, they cannot respond to it, or realize what such a start in their lives will mean in the long run. The mentors they need are not in their midst, so they will have to do it step by step themselves, whether they succeed or not. It is about time that we realize that children are never – never – owned by the (orthodox) parents. Side note: children are also a gift and not a given.

Come out unscathed

We can argue that the outside world often sees no difference between one black kippah and long coat and the other black kippah and long coat. However, we can never claim that such closed-up communities are the same as a family in which everyone becomes a doctor and one just wants to become an artist.

Children and / or adults who want to get out of the orthodoxy cannot always do so and cannot always come out unscathed. They carry it with them and often spend decades sticking plasters on the wounds and changing them over and over, until one day it will no longer be necessary. In other words, we can take a child out of the orthodoxy, but we cannot take the orthodoxy out of the child, with all the joy and suffering that comes with that.

Trial and error

Labels like the orthodoxy are indeed for supermarkets and not for people, as Yanki Jacobs rightly puts it. That is precisely why we must dismantle the old mechanisms that stand in the way of humanity within closed-up communities as soon as possible. That is partly a grueling process and it comes with trial and error.

An Orthodox rabbi came to me in 2018 and said: “I read your book. What you have done for our community is groundbreaking”. Whether this was said to comfort, or with full conviction, I will never be 100 percent sure of. What I do know is that Exodus from the lighthouse, Shadow behind and face towards the sun will be read with different eyes in a hundred years from now. This is just as true for how other similar works and stories will ever be viewed again.

Identity

Anna Wexler’s family in the documentary Unorthodox told her that she chose the Jewish Orthodoxy as the theme for her film, because she is always brought back to it. Anna Wexler did try to remain impartial in her film and she followed the religious course of the lives of a number of people. However, I do criticize openly if necessary and stand up just as hard for my Jewish fellow people when I find it necessary and fair.

My Jewish identity is totally inconclusive as humanity is paramount in my daily life. This means that I stay away from labels. The only label I wear is Dina-Perla and even that one is worn while winking at the world. Still, I honor my life as a Jewish woman, especially since my Jewish fellow human beings have known for centuries what fighting means and six million people have been killed due to a label. For that reason, my job is to be a Jewish woman with my head held high and to take this more seriously than I often tend to do.

My spiritual self once said that I might as well have been born a Muslim, Buddhist, or a Christian etc. Recently, someone pointed out to me that my ‘neshama’, thus soul, does not rotate in that manner in different lives and therefore simply remains Jewish. Who will know for sure? It is up to each individual and to me what meaning we give to the matters of our lives. Yet that is secretly the reason why, despite everything, I love so many of my Jewish fellow people, including the black coats and hats and sometimes exclusive the beards and wigs.