They grow up with a tremendous I’ll take the most extreme example.The Satmar Hasidic group lives in a place called Kiryas Joel in [Orange County] New York. They are aware that they have no way to support themselves outside the enclave.
This is confusing for a kid, because [they’re taught that] there’s one right way.In her first book, Tradition in a Rootless World, she profiled American Jewish women who grew up irreligious and chose Orthodoxy as adults.For her latest book, Becoming Un-Orthodox: Stories of Ex-Hasidic Jews, Davidman got to know a very different group of people: 40 men and women born into ultra-Orthodox Hasidic communities who had, against all odds, broken away and joined the secularworld.If you go to breakfast, you’re supposed to say a blessing over each food. If you have a fruit salad, but you have granola too, which do you bless first?One idea is that if the fruit’s grown in Israel, you bless that one first. How unusual it is for people to leave these communities? It takes an enormous amount of guts, savvy, and bravery.They are ideologically encapsulated, they are socially encapsulated, and they are physicallyencapsulated. [Kiryas Joel has a higher proportion of people living in poverty than any other village or town in So who are these people who choose to leave?
They’re afraid of being disowned by their family and shunned by their community. They generally have had some childhood experience that doesn’t fit with the ideal Hasidic way.
“I was afraid some punishment by God might be imminent,” she recalls.
She wasn’t sure what form his retribution for eating a non-kosher burger would take; she probably wouldn’t be hit by lighting in a restaurant, she figured, but perhaps she would be struck to theground.
They generally do their first “transgressions” far away from their community. Women might buy a pair of pants, put them on when they get to the bar at the corner of the neighborhood, and put their skirt back on when they go home.
There’s a sociological term: They do it in the “backstage,” instead of the “frontstage,” where they could be seen and reported and disciplined. Guys might put their curly locks behind their ears if they’re in a dance club, which of course they shouldn’t be How do they go from secretly putting on pants to actually leaving the community?
What sets Hasidic communities apart, other than the way they dress?