If Education Were “Substantially Similar”…

 

Prison to Their Own Insularity – How many Ultra-Orthodox Youth Would go “Off the Derech” if Given the Choice?

Lost Messiah July 8, 2016

We have taken the following from an article shared on Facebook about a man, anonymously named Binyamin who made the difficult decision to go “off the derech.” He, like many others, explains his reasons, his difficulties, his questions and ultimately his journey.

We have postulated that the educational system within the ultra-Orthodox and Hasidic communities is intended to bind children to their religious upbringing by denying them choices. The children grow up as prisoners to their insular community simply by virtue of their lack of education, including the language of the land in which they live. We have stated our firm belief that this is damaging both to those ultra-Orthodox children and to the taxpayers who fund an inadequate education for both the religious community and the secular non-Jewish public school community. This is true of the East Ramapo Central School District, the Toms River/Lakewood School District, the Monroe/Woodbury School District, and dozens of others both in the United States and elsewhere.

In England, they decided to crack down on this problem.

We are posting the article, as well as one of the comments, wherein the commenter suggests other sources of reading on this subject. Our takeaway from the article is to commend the courage of Binyamin and his journey.

We hold to the position that the United States educational system, from the core of its very Constitution demands of us a strict separation of Church and State. By providing funding to religious schools, regardless of religion, without providing a substantially similar education, the children within that system as well as the public school children are being denied their Constitutional rights to an equal education and to a separation. We realize that the counterpoint to that position is the argument that the children are entitled to religious freedoms. We suggest that when those freedoms damage others, they are no longer entitlements.

The educational system as it now stands is not sustainable. People like Binyamin are raised with few choices because they lack the educational wherewithal in many cases to get free. Publicly educated children are denied their right to an education because finances are drained from the public schools into the private Yeshivas. And taxpayers are harmed because they are funding a generation of children who, whether public or private yeshiva students, will be grossly unprepared to enter the workforce and become contributing members of society.

But most ultra-Orthodox do not want to make that contribution. We will leave the remainder of our thoughts for you to ponder….

 

 

How many would go “Off The Derech” if they were provided a secular education? Binyamin devoted his life to “the dude” and HE couldn’t even bother existing.

Binyamin (not his real name) was a prodigy in an ultra-Orthodox community and knew so much about the Torah that he wanted answers to some basic questions.

Yet as if in some weird Kafka-like nightmare he was “medicated” as if he were just a deranged member of some weird sci-fi cult.

Kafka grew up in Prague as a German-speaking Jew. He was deeply fascinated by the Jews of Eastern Europe, who he thought possessed an intensity of spiritual life that was absent from Jews in the West. His diary is full of references to Yiddish writers. Yet he was at times alienated from Judaism and Jewish life: “What have I in common with Jews? I have hardly anything in common with myself and should stand very quietly in a corner, content that I can breathe”.

People believed that Kafka may have possessed a schizoid personality disorder. His style, it is claimed, not only in “Die Verwandlung” (“The Metamorphosis”), but in various other writings, appears to show low to medium-level schizoid traits, which explain much of his work. His anguish can be seen in this diary entry from 21 June 1913 where he wrote: “The tremendous world I have in my head. But how to free myself and free them without ripping apart. And a thousand times rather tear in me they hold back or buried. For this I’m here, that’s quite clear to me. In his adolescent years, Kafka declared himself an atheist.

[Read more about Kafka in Wikipedia]..

Binyamin was deeply fascinated with the Torah but eventually began to ask why he couldn’t breathe: “I was told explicitly that the reason I was having problems was because I was serving God wrong”. Binyamin was at the start of a long journey: leaving ultra-Orthodox Judaism. He is part of a growing community of formerly Orthodox Jews — many of whom identify as ‘Off The Derech’, using the Hebrew term for path — which was the subject of a recent groundbreaking study.

Nearly 10% of survey respondents cited hypocrisy and double standards as reasons they left their ultra-Orthodox communities. Six percent cited physical or emotional abuse, like some of the treatment Binyamin says he suffered at the hands of his family members. Yet 95% percent still consider themselves Jewish, a number that would include Binyamin despite the fact that he no longer believes in God.

“It was the first time that I turned to heaven and said, ‘If this is really your plan, I can’t handle this pain. I just can’t do it. I want out,’” he said. “I got a resounding, ‘Too bad.’”

After what seemed like ages, his uncle intervened, and got him on a plane to Israel with his grandparents. Now, at the Kotel, Binyamin took a seat alongside the many other religious Jews who were fervently reading tehilim, or psalms. He took out his designated reading material for that day: the Book of Job. He read it cover to cover.

“I had so many questions,” he said. “But the only answer I got out of the book was, ‘Who are you to ask?’ And that just didn’t cut it.”

That was the last straw. Giving up his belief in God was a conscious decision, Binyamin said, one he made for his “personal mental health.” He began to “medicate” with treatises by some of the world’s most well-known atheists: Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett. Though he identifies as an atheist, to this day he has a complicated relationship with God.

“I talk about Hashem all the time. I’m very angry at him for not existing,” he said.

“It’s probably me being angry at myself for falling for it. I mean, I devoted my life to the dude and he couldn’t even bother existing?”

Comment: For those who want more insight into the lives of people who have left, and why they have left I would recommend “Unchosen: The Hidden Lives of Hasidic Rebels” (Link below). It is a fascinating read that helps you understand the pressure put on people to conform to strict rules, and the harsh penalties for not conforming.

https://read.amazon.com/kp/embed?asin=B0053CUNJ8…

AN EXCERPT: 

For Binyamin, Going #OffTheDerech Is Wrenching Yet Liberating Jewish Journey

That was the last straw. Giving up his belief in God was a conscious decision, Binyamin said, one he made for his “personal mental health.” He began to “medicate” with treatises by some of the world’s most well-known atheists: Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett. Though he identifies as an atheist, to this day he has a complicated relationship with God.

“I talk about Hashem all the time. I’m very angry at him for not existing,” he said. “It’s probably me being angry at myself for falling for it. I mean, I devoted my life to the dude and he couldn’t even bother existing?”

Binyamin’s search for community, if not for God, is ongoing. He has been to services of every denomination, looking for places that welcome his level of Talmudic knowledge, but without the pretense — and toxic otherizing — of the stringently religious community he was raised in. He has found, in recent years, a familiar intellectual intensity in the world of futurism, and hopes to soon work for the global leaders of the technological movement, such as Bill Gates or Elon Musk.

He has also begun to feel embraced by the larger Jewish community — one that he was taught as a child to distrust, even hate. The rising visibility of the ex-Orthodox community has made him proud of his own Jewish identity, something he had not felt for many, many years. He now finds himself defending the Jewish community to formerly Orthodox friends who no longer have anything to do with Judaism.

“My point is, I don’t know about you, but I found out that I have millions of allies.”

Read more: http://forward.com/news/344135/for-binyamin-going-offthederech-is-wrenching-yet-liberating-jewish-journey/#ixzz4Doou0Rab

One thought on “If Education Were “Substantially Similar”…

  1. It is a very complicated world we live in. There is a lot of hurt and pain all over. I do not believe that pain= no god but I can understand someone not being able to deal with that plus all the unanswered questions that go along with our religion.
    Everyone , in every religion, is faced with tests and challenges- not easy ones. It is not just a jewish issue with hashem.
    Good luck to everyone on all their journeys in life and we should all find peace and happiness …. within ourselves.
    Life is full of pain -but there is happiness and good as well. We all have so much to be thankful for. Lets focus on the good that has been given to us and maybe that can heal a lot of our pain.

    Like

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