Have you ever seen a Hasidic Jew in a convertible? I didn’t leave because I wanted a convertible, but I wanted the freedom to go and get one if I so desired.
A big part of why I left ultra-Orthodoxy was my desire for freedom. I’m a curious guy and I need to try everything. I wanted to go on road trips, wear orange slippers, cut my hair, try stuff! I also wanted the freedom to think and question.
To people who have grown up in the secular world, these are freedoms that you likely take for granted. But for someone who has grown up in the ultra-Orthodox world, these are profound freedoms. The ability to think freely and express yourself and feel what you want without fear of being punished – this is incredible.
Of course, the price of freedom is high, at least for awhile. When you start out, it’s difficult. I lived in complete poverty, I was homeless, I had no friends, and sometimes no food. I lost my family.
But I found people to fill the voids. I made new friends and I found new people who love me. And, of course, I found Footsteps, an organization created and run by people who care. They basically let me know that I was free and no matter what choices I made, they would be there for me.
Today, I live on the West Coast where I am pursuing an acting career. Perhaps you have even seen me in “Transparent” or the award winning movie “Felix and Meira?” That’s the kind of freedom I was looking for.