Taking a different 'derech’

By ATARA BECK
April 14, 2015 11:55

A new generation of Orthodoxy among Jews seeks to find a community that supports religious observance and secular ideals of individualism and education.




Jerusalem

Jerusalem. (photo credit:ILLUSTRATIVE: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

Stories about youth going “off the derech” – literally, off the path, but referring to young Jews from religiously observant homes who leave the world of Torah – are common in Jewish communities across the globe. Indeed, several groups and individuals have been assisting young adults from ultra-Orthodox homes who have decided to change their way of life but who have neither the resources nor the knowledge of the secular world to make the move independently.

What is less acknowledged is that many young Jews are desperate for help in leaving their sheltered world while remaining loyal to Orthodoxy. Their emotional trauma and difficulty adjusting are often no less intense than the experiences of those who make a 180-degree change, such as people who choose to abandon religion completely – or, conversely, secular Jews who choose to become ba’alei teshuva (newly religious).

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