Friday, February 19, 2010

High price of religious defection


The community of ultra-Orthodox Jews in Israel is half a million strong and growing. They live in a parallel universe cut off from the modern world in tight-knit communities where everything revolves around religion. Only a few dare to abandon this life -- and the price for doing so is high.

When she left, she left everything behind -- even her name. She no longer wanted to be known as Sarah, the name her parents had given her. She'd felt imprisoned by that name for too long; it made her feel different and subject to laws that others imposed upon her. So, she started her new life with a new name, Mayan, the Hebrew word for "source."[...]


  1. An anti-semitic article out of Germany.

    No surprise.

  2. It is hardly anti-semitic.
    It is describing a social phenomenon. SImilar things happen in the Islamic world - obviously lehavdil.
    The issue of OTD as some call it, also Hozrei B'Sheelah, is not limited to haredi community, and according to an article I read in Israel a few years ago, it is even more widespread in the DL community.
    The question is why it happens and can anything be done about it?
    I don't think being stricter or less strict makes a difference. It happens in the MO world all the way to the Eda world, and all the way in between.
    There is another ex rosh kollel, who became an apikores, and has a website called Daat Emet, devoted to atatcking everything to do with Judaism, Torah, and religious zionism.

  3. I probably have gone otd being raised like that.

  4. Eddie: Who runs Daat Emet?

    This German article goes way out its way to make Jews appear primitive.

  5. In picture 5 attached to the story about the allegedly stifling lives of chareidim, we find a couple on the beach in southern Israel. The comment doesn't say anything about hos this shows that not everyone share's the defectors' view of chareidi life.

    As a general statement, they only got one side of the story and didn't interview anyone who is happy being chareidi. Instead they repeat a sound-bite about all those who want to leave but are to scared to pay the social price. "Only a few dare to abandon this life ..." As though it couldn't be that only a few actually would want to anyway. That's biased, no? The resulting image they are producing for the uninformed reader is certainly skewed to the point of being false.


  6. Usually the people who go OTD are more mentally stable than BT.

    The OTD during the Haskala/enlightenment period was much worst, yeshivas were closing down because they did not have enough students.

    And really all the haredi movement is a reaction to the enlightment

  7. Anti semitic? Hardly. Accurate? Yup.

    We live in an era when the outer trappings of frumkeit trump real substance. We have a character crisis on our hands and some kids see it and refuse to live with it.

    We are not special by way of out identity. We are special by way of our behavior. We have to earn that specialness. Lots of kids see through the madness and want to be as far away from it as possible. Can you really blame them?

    Rabbis are convicted of MULTIPLE felonhies and Artscroll publishes and promotes their books.

    Other 'rabbonim' and manhigim engage in fraud and fiscal malfeasance and are held in high esteem.

    When Rabbi Dr Avrohom Twerski first documented physical abuse and then substance abuse in the community years ago, he was just about run out of town on a rail. Now people are falling all over themselves raising money for non existent programs.

    Tuition crisis? Well, many mosdos are in effect job programs for relatives and ever expanding families, no qualifications necessary. You may be asked to pay higher tuition rates but teh children teachers and other employees of mosdos are educated gratis in a quid pro quo fashion. 'I'll send my daughter to your mosad and you can send your son to mine.'

    No one was surprised that Tropper was what he was. It just seems that way because in this case there were tapes. Leaders and rabbonim fail and we shrug our shoulders say nothing. The irony is not lost- rabbonim opine on everything from music to shaitels but in this case they have nothing to say and even when they do say something, they say nothing.

    Divorce rates are at an all time high- because making a good shidduch is more important than the quality of the marriage. Boys are taught that to be a good husband is be appear to be a good lamdan is more important than actually being a good husband. Girls are taught that a boy who appears to be a good lamdan will be a good husband. It is hard to know who more stupid- the parents or the kids. No one sees the idiocy and unsustainable nature of a shita that sees nothing wrong with a young man not supporting his own family, relying instead on parents on in laws. Let's see how long that lasts or what happens when kids start complaining that one son/daughter is getting more than the other.

    The list goes and on. Unless and until our communal behavior and values change, we will experience more kids falling off.

    Children look up to leaders with character and values. They see through the falshkeit.

    There are two kinds of heroes. One is the superhero. Everyone knows his name and he has fantastic powers. Every kid wants to play at that game with his frinds at one time or another.

    The other kind of hero is more subtle. As the child gets older he becomes more nuanced. He sees the rough and tough cowboy help fend off the bandits as helps protect the widow and children trying to scratch out a living on hardscrabble soil. He speaks little. His actions speak for him.

    There are plastic surgeons and there are Albert Schweitzers. As a child grows into the age of reason, he desperately wants to see his father be a cowboy or an Albert Schweitzer. They want real heroes, at home and in the community, those who do the right thing always and stand up for justice and yashrus.

    Kids want someone to idolize and emulate.

    We don't give them that anymore and they go elsewhere to find it.

  8. There is a high social price to pay, it is called excommunication. There are many hababniks, who still dress haredi, but act hiloni. they are playing the game by the rules, ie haredi in apeparance, but hiloni in behaviour.
    There isnt an antisemitic bias, they are just arguing against being closed off and not giving secular education.
    The excommunication is not always used against poshim. IN Mercaz harav, there was a scandal 10 years ago of sex abuse. the students who complained were threaened that they would never find a shidduch.
    The same types of threats were made at the MIkve rabbi fo reporting abuse in the geula mikve.
    The name of the daat emet guy s Yaron Yadan. He claims he was once a rosh kollel and expert in psak halacha.

  9. Micha-

    The story was about those who fall off, not about those who are happy with charedi life.

    The default position is that charedim are happy with their lives. They wanted to examine those who weren't and fell off. I didn't find the article offensive. I may have been made somewhat uncomfortable but there are lots of reasons for that.

  10. LL - disparaging BT as mentally ill makes a mockery of yourself.

    And there is no "hareidi movement." Never was any such thing.

  11. Mayan was dealt a difficult deck of cards, with a stepfather and mother in a second marriage, the TALIBAN REGIME began. For a young teen not to be prepared for physical growth and emotional health - must have been a 'living hell'. The pain of not being able to ask questions, seek answers and solutions and being placed in solitary confinement without the loving touch and praise of a father would have sent anyone over the cliff. Much to learn from these short tales.....

  12. It's an interesting article because it could have said something but didn't.

    The whole story about the girl's underwear, if true, just shows that she had an unfeeling idiot for a mother. It seems to have taken place in a chaddishe home. Many chaddishe homes are very warm. This girl exited the system because the system did not protect her from her mother and stepfather's inhumanity. That was the failure, not frumkeit itself. Anyone can see that.

    The boy eating pork is a different story. In the course of my work in NYC, I have come to know reform and conservative Jews. Without exception, none of them has ever tasted pork to my knowledge. They do eat shrimp, etc., but consider themselves Jews and would be disgusted to eat pork. The fact that this boy eats pork shows a deep hatred of being Jewish. How can someone raised frum bring himself to eat pork without throwing up? Something happened there as well.

    The organization that "helps" them break away is not mentioned to have any real counseling services that would determine whether any of these people are making an impulsive gesture that could ruin the rest of their lives. So they aren't shown to have any credibility either.

    I think what this article does show to the frum community is that some in our society fall through the cracks because they feel discarded or betrayed by us.

    That needs to be addressed if we want to keep others before they become like those in the article.

  13. It seems obvious to me that if you shove all kinds of chumrot and such down people's throats, plus the inability to change the status quo on so many issues (like agunot), many folks are going to gag.

  14. Rav Yaakov Kaminetzky z"l said that Squaretown and Kiryas Yoel were good for those who could stay inside. However, if they ever had to go out to work such as to midtown Manhattan then it was terrible because tov mareh aynayim may halach nofesh.

    They would easily be swayed.

    The ikar is to study and work on emuna. Rabbi Saperstein has some videos that deal with emuna and he is running a program to spread the concepts of bechina and other sources of emuna.

  15. I am frum, learn and teach Torah, but I think there are some real issues in our community and we are unnecessarily losing some of our children. I also feel that if there were more moderate yeshivos with easier schedule, where more opportunities were offered for gratification from side interests like music, writing, photography etc. we would have more happy enthsiastic talmidim. just my opinion, there is no one correct way.

  16. It seems to have taken place in a chaddishe home. Many chaddishe homes are very warm.

    That's so true, especially amongst Satmar, in my experience. As a bochur, I was especially close with a man who was meshamash R' Yoel; an amazing family. The children were totally normal too. The daughters, married and unmarried would approach me on the street to say 'hello' if they happened to see me in Williamsburg. I rather doubt one would see that these days.

    These days, I don't know what to make of things.

  17. Why is everyone jumping to condemn Charedim? In every segment of Orthodoxy you have honest, corrupt, good parents, bad parents, sensitive, shrewish - the gamut. It sounds like this woman got dealt a bad hand, but that doesn't mean that the way she grew up was normative.

  18. Chava: Assuming your the focus of your question is true, maybe it's because:

    1. The chillul Hashem becomes much greater the more outwardly religious a criminal is.

    2. Is a reaction to the belief-set of chareidim, who very often explicitly or implicitly say they're better than others.

    3. Because their communities have the most severe associated pathologies, there is more focus on them so that they can improve.


  19. Kids want someone to idolize and emulate.

    We don't give them that anymore and they go elsewhere to find it.

    Maybe so. My experience has been the opposite, at least when it comes to yashrus.

    I have found that some young people (all the way up to their early 30's now) look at their parents who stand up for yashrus as naive idiots. They see these people get hurt standing up for what's right and living lives that are not flamboyant. They would rather live like their peers. If they live a life that last generation considered unstraight, but that their peers see as how the world works, then they can live in comfort and be respected as choshuv. They think that if you really work, that shows you are a sucker, not a thinker.

    When caught ripping off programs that are not designed for them, they retaliate with, "Well, what are we supposed to do?" as if that answers everything.

    And of course as mentioned before by many on this blog, these people have no marketable skills, which would take work to develop.

    For many, as they climb the social and economic ladder, the only choice is to commit borderline criminal acts, then incontestable criminal acts to retain their positions. By the time they reach late middle age, those with "natural talent" are hardened criminals like those we sometimes discuss here.


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