Why is Footsteps necessary?
"There is one particular gole that I want to achive. That gole, is getting a hier education. By a hier education, I mene going to college or university for sevrel years and excelling in the particular subjects that I think I'm good at" (Benny, 19)."
Benny, not his real name, was born and raised in an ultra-Orthodox community in New York City. His comments reflect the aspirations and challenges of many of those who turn to Footsteps for assistance.
Ultra-Orthodox communities are insulated from the contemporary secular world and keep outside influences from challenging their basic beliefs or affecting their highly structured way of life. Education is carefully controlled -- for boys it consists almost entirely of religious subjects. Girls are given a limited practical education and for many men and women Yiddish is their first language. Exposure to radio, television, movies, secular newspapers and literature of any kind is officially prohibited. For many, this is a satisfying life, one that offers security and comfort. However, those who choose to leave their communities of origin, often face devastating loss and loneliness. The stress of this transition can lead people to become depressed and/or engage in self-destructive behaviors.
Footsteps recognizes that, given the circumstances in which the organization’s participants were raised and the nature of this transition, it is both extremely difficult and essential to acquire educational credentials and professional skills while adjusting to life in mainstream society. Footsteps was founded to assist anyone who independently seeks out the organization’s support as they work toward becoming independent and productive members of the larger society.