It used to be that going off the derech ensured a lonely existence, you couldn’t tell your friends and family and you mostly suffered in silence. In the past couple of years, the Off The Derech community has gone through some explosive growth. Thousands have joined groups on Facebook to create a subculture of formerly religious folks who debate, talk theology, and undo what many in the Kiruv movement have worked for years on. Nowadays, it’s easier to leave the derech, because you merely join another derech called OTD, there are camping trips, poetry slams, educational groups to help you learn English and get a job, there is counseling. If you have doubts about your belief in Judaism, it’s easier than ever to explore those doubts.
At the forefront of the OTD online community is someone who goes by the name Rachmuna Litzlon, some of you may remember his stunt to try and sell his Olam Habah on Ebay. Rachmuna is considered one of the gedolei H’otd and part of the team of poskim that dictate OTD behavior. As such, he’s treated like any other gadol, with the amount of ass kissing that goes on, one may think that he was giving out sherayim with gold in it.
As a frum community sociologist and anthropologist, I find the whole thing fascinating. I don’t really find going off the derech that attractive, but I find the whole process to be very interesting. To outsiders, it may look like one big “hate on the frum people” festival, but it’s more than that. Imagine this massive group therapy for traumatized individuals who need to deal with years of being in the closet. I would need therapy too, if I just came out and had to be disowned by my family and have my children turn against me. Look at it as reverse kiruv, there’s all these people trying to convince folks that frumkeit is the proper way of life and suddenly you have all these people that grew up frum and it didn’t work out. Just like kiruv folks try to tell you how useless it is to be irreligious, the OTD folks are doing just the reverse.
I am working on an interview right now of him, there’s no bigger form of flattery than an interview, and interviews are usually pretty generic and shitty. I hope this will be better, the last someone did a good interview of me was when Tablet Mag did a profile of me. If you have any good questions, ask them below.
Interview will be out at some point later in the week.
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