First Dutch OTD Memoir Published

From the cover: “Dina-Perla grew up in Jewish orthodoxy and a suffocating reality, where nothing is what it seems. As a young girl, she fough for freedom and love, flees her parental home and decides never to return.”

Dina-Perla de Winter’s debut is called “Exodus from the lighthouse” and will be sold in Dutch stores starting this coming Monday 13th November 2017. An English translation is currently in planning.

Recommended Article: Leaving is OK

Leaving is okay

I had an open conversation with a religious friend who watched the One Of Us documentary. She admitted that she hadn’t been planning to watch it, but after reading my blog post, she decided to give it a shot. It touched her.

Just a Casualty

Dear mom,

If only you would be more concerned with my wellbeing
and less concerned about religion
You would still have me

If only you would give me what I need
And not what you want me to need
If only if only…

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We Are Not Lost

by Aryeh Levine

I’m tired of seeing rabbis bemoaning the existence of OTD kids as “the loss of so many children.” I just want to grab them by the shoulders, look them in the eye, and say:

We are not lost.

We are still here.

We lost you.

Before we ever had you, we lost you.

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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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The Day My Hasidic Father Visited Me at Wellesley

The Day My Hasidic Father Visited Me at Wellesley

Walking around the leafy campus in his black hat and long black coat, my father looks like a historical figure from another era. Fascinated by the elaborate architecture, he points to a poster on Wellesley’s Science building. “What is the meaning of science?” He asks. I’m caught off guard.


Leah Vincent’s Life and Her Ability to Come Out the Other Side

Via Real Women Real Stories:

Leah Vincent Sheds Light On Her Ultra-Orthodox (Judaism) Upbringing

Leah Vincent went through hell and came out a woman of valor. She endured so much, but she didn’t let this trauma crush her or defeat her. Her frank & moving account of her struggle to liberate herself from her extreme Orthodox Jewish family and a brutal rape is something that everyone must watch.

Living in Two Worlds

People who are still living as an Orthodox Jew to the outside but on the inside have left Orthodox Judaism, have to deal with living in two worlds: the orthodox home / society / family on the one hand, and the personal beliefs and private actions of this person on the other hand.

Dealing with this phenomenon is one of the hardest parts of being a ‘closet-OTD’. Often, it is the difficulties associated with living a lie that bring people to come out about their true beliefs. One blogger that went through these experiences and documented much of it, Abandoning Eden, has written a powerful post on the topic of lying.

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.

Survey Reveals 46% of National Religious Israelis Leave The Faith

Survey: Only 46% of Next Generation National Religious Israelis Keep the FaithThe Jewish Press | JNi.Media | 20 Iyyar 5777 – May 16, 2017 |

A study conducted by the Chotam organization shows that although the “knitted yarmulke” population in Israel has a relatively high fertility rate, its percentage in the population does not increase and remains stable, the reason being a high dropout rate. National Religious Israelis have the highest birthrate in the country, higher in some instances than the Haredi and Arab populations.