Off the Path of Orthodoxy, By Talia Lavin

Off the Path of Orthodoxy, By Talia Lavin

July 31, 2015 – The New Yorker

There are many terms for people who have left Orthodox Judaism: apikores (an ancient Hebrew term for “apostate”); chozer b’she’elah (a decorous Israeli term, which translates roughly to “one who returns with questions”); frei (Yiddish for “free,” usually used in a derogatory fashion); and “O.T.D.,” or “off the derech” (“derech” is Hebrew for “path”). The last term, once a dismissive way to describe Orthodox youth who sought to explore drugs and sex, has been reclaimed by some ex-Orthodox Jews. Using this term says: Yes, I have left your path—and now I must find my own way.

Read the full article here.

Op-Ed: Faigy Mayer’s suicide is a Jewish tragedy, not just an Orthodox one, By Shulem Deen

July 24, 2015 – Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA)

In September 2013, I gathered with a group of friends to share feelings and reflections on the suicide death of one our friends, Deb Tambor, who had been struggling with a variety of issues related to leaving the insular Hasidic Jewish world. Next to me sat Faigy Mayer, a friend and fellow ex-Hasid.

Faigy and I talked for a bit, about Deb, and about our own lives. She told me she was doing well. I told her I was writing an essay about Deb’s death for an online magazine, and she offered me some helpful thoughts.

This week, nearly two years later, Faigy jumped to her own death from a 20-story building in Manhattan.

The news, when I heard it, shook me, as it did many in our community of ex-haredi Orthodox Jews. But it didn’t shock me. It’s almost as if we’ve come to expect another suicide in our ranks every so often.

Read the full article here.

The Journey Out: Peril And Promise In Leaving The Ultra-Orthodox Jewish World, By Talia Lavin

May 21, 2015 – The Huffington Post

Shulem Deen’s first steps away from Hasidic Judaism were in the direction of a radio. Defying his community’s express prohibitions against secular media, Deen waited until his wife and children were sleeping. Then he leaned in close to the small tape player in his home — the one whose radio he hadn’t had the heart to disable. He turned it on and began to listen.

“I switched the dial from one station to another, commercials for medical malpractice attorneys, car dealerships and department store blowout sales filling me with forbidden pleasure,” Deen wrote in his recently released memoir, All Who Go Do Not Return. “I was like a visitor from a different era encountering our modern one, captivated by its very mundaneness.”

Read the full article here.

Expelled for Heresy, The Brian Lehrer Show

April 16, 2015 – The Brian Lehrer Show

Shulem Deen, a former Skverer Hasid, the founding editor of Unpious and the author of All Who Go Do Not Return: A Memoir (Graywolf Press, 2015), isn’t the first to lose his faith, but as former Skverer Hasid, that loss cost him his family and community.  He tells his story.

Listen to the show here.