Some Advice About Coming Out

Some simple advice on Reddit on Coming Out can be found here. One of the things it offers is a neat overview of when you should come out to your family and friends.

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OTD History: H. N. Bialik

Although not all of us learned about this during our education at Bais Yaakov or yeshiva, we are not the first generations to think and write about the experience of going off the derech. Of course dissent has always been a part of Jewish tradition, from Hillel and Shammai down to Spinoza. But the OTDers of the nineteenth and early twentieth-century Europe are particularly interesting for us, because of their reflections on Jewish life and thought and because of the role they played in many of the events and movements which have shaped the world outside of the Jewish community as well. Those of us who have exchanged the pursuit of mitzvos, Moshiach and olam haba for the pursuit of justice for all people can look back to OTDers like anarchist and feminist Emma Goldman,  Ludwig (Leyzer) Zamenhof who invented Esperanto in an attempt to eliminate the language barriers between people, or the Bundists and creators of modern Yiddish literature. I hope to devote future blog posts to them. Today’s post is about OTD literature, and specifically Hebrew literature, because it will show how easily we can connect to the past.

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Reasons Why People Go OTD

There is a widespread misconception (based on Sanhedrin 63) that the only reason why people leave observance is to indulge in their desires. In general, we can say that there are plenty emotional and rational reasons why people leave Orthodox Judaism.

Rational reasons include:
  • Lack of belief in the notion of God
  • Lack of belief in the authority of Torah sages (‘Daas Torah, ‘Emunat Chachamim’)
  • Disagreement over halachic issues, such as the status of women and non-Jews in halacha
  • Conflicts with science (age of the world, e.g.)
  • Philosophical disagreements
  • Questioning dogma and beliefs in general
Some emotional reasons could include:
  • Never having felt a spiritual connection to a God
  • Being fed up of always having to be obedient and subservient
  • A general or specific desire for freedom (non-kosher food, away from community pressure, sexuality)
  • Abuse (emotional or sexual)
  • A general feeling of unhappiness or burnout connected or not connected to religion
  • Exposure to more tolerant forms of experiencing spirituality
To learn more about some reasons why people leave observant Judaism, the book Off the Derech by Faranak Margolese can be helpful, although many ex-observant people disagree with some of the premises and conclusions in the book. Nevertheless, it is the only book so far that seems to address the issue of why people leave orthodoxy.

The High Price of Leaving Ultra-Orthodox Life

The High Price of Leaving Ultra-Orthodox Life

The conversation on my Facebook page was like the ones that happen between Republicans and Democrats after mass shootings: Half the posts said that we should not be looking at religious society as a cause of mental illness.

Resentment

At first I had trouble thinking up any sort of resentment I have developed on this journey.  In my case, my progression towards my own derech has in no way been caused by anyone in the frum community who may have wronged me, and so generally don’t carry any resentment towards my frum family, rabbanim, etc .  After giving it some thought, however, if I do, in fact, feel any resentment , it is towards those back home who would look at or treat me differently, or even cut ties with me altogether, if they knew that I was no longer frum.  I realize that “if they don’t accept the real you, then they never were really your friends,” but my hometown is my hometown, and I should be able to go back there and be my true self without having to feel like people are looking at me differently.  Life is easy since I live far away from my hometown, and so I really do not think about this issue very often at all.  But on those occasions when I do, the resentment just motivates me to do whatever I can to create a more tolerant world, where, as long as they’re not harming anyone, people can be truly accepted for being themselves.

– Shloimie