What I miss about being on the derech
Time dedicated to family and friends; feeling a spiritual connection to something greater than myself;
intellectual challenge of study and learning; shabbat meals with friends and family; putting together creative mishloach manot; taking long shabbat walks; singing kabbalat shabbat and zemiros; leading adult education classes at my synagogue; seeing the same familiar people week after week at the synagogue and communal events; living close enough to walk to people, rather than drive; having that feeling that shabbat is a special time; being able to pray to god to make everything alright. Being off the derech doesn’t mean I have to give all this up, but it does mean redefining what the rituals mean to me, finding a new way to have connection and community and that does take time and effort. Just as the old way was not perfect, though I miss it, the new way won’t be perfect either, but it will be truer to myself and my own derech.
What I miss from my frum days
Even though I enjoy the freedom to choose how to spend my weekends, I miss calmly walking home from shul on a cold Friday night; entering a warm home; enjoying a Shabbos meal with great food, divrei Torah, and singing; and just relaxing in the present. In general, living away from Jews, I miss being able to go to wonderful families for Shabbos and Yom Tov meals. Discovering that there’s most likely no one listening to my prayers, I miss the feeling I had when I davened and really felt like I was pleading with someone who had the power to help us. I miss the emotions of Ne’ilah, using my waning energy at the end of Yom Kippur to beg for mercy and commit to change from now on, before feeling the gates suddenly close at the sound of the shofar. I miss laining certain kri’ahs; e.g. Chasan Torah. Finally, I worry that if I get married and have kids, I won’t have a community helping out in whatever way my wife would need and sharing in our simcha by way of a shalom zachar or kiddush. I can still choose to do most of what I did in my frum life; however, it just seems easier said than done in some cases.
– Shloimie Ehrenfeld
Things We Miss
I don’t miss being part of the orthodox community. However, I do miss the excitement that I used to have for Judaism before becoming orthodox. Orthodoxy introduced an obsessive-compulsive component to casual observance of holidays and dietary rules, one that ultimately influenced my decision to stop all practice.
-Rebecca M. Ross