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Interview with an Off The Derech community leader Part2

off the derech The interview was too long for one post and so here you have it, part two of the interview with Rachmuna Litzlon, one of the Off The Derech community leaders. We don’t need another long introduction. I should mention that I got quite a few requests from folks who wished I would interview them, if you think you have an interesting view on the frum community, I would love to interview you. If you’re just some guy or girl who wants attention, I can’t really take the time out of my schedule, unless you pay me of course. Money will buy you all the interviews you want.

Would you marry a non-Jew?

I don’t have anything against marrying a non-Jew personally, except that it would be devastating to my family, so I would be hesitant for that reason.

Do you think the frum community is ready for this new age Haskallah? Or will your status become like missionaries, where Rabbis will say never to debate you?

I wish I had ruach hakodesh, but I’m very bad at predicting the future. I think they’re scrambling to deal with this issue, but they’re going at it in all the wrong ways. There are a few rabbis who get it, but most of them prefer to treat it the way they treat everything else. Cy about yeridas hadoros, hock against the internet, ban smart phones, and ignore the underlying problems. And yes, they already say not to talk to us, we’re toxic.

Is the OTD community actually healing broken people or just fueling their rage, mistrust and misunderstanding of religion?

I don’t think those are mutually exclusive. Part of healing is dealing with the pain and the rage. But I also see a lot of healing going on besides the anger. I’ve seen peoples’ lives changed, I’ve watched people make incredible transformations – inside and out – and become better happier people.

Mistrust? Sure, but I would call it a healthy skepticism. Misunderstanding? Not at all, remember that we come from there, we aren’t outsiders, which is why we’re so threatening to the Frum establishment, we can’t be razzle dazzled by fancy Aish videos or other cutesy Frum shtick.

Why are we here? What happens when we die?

We’re here for the same reason rocks are here. We’re here for the same reason gravity is a law. We’re here because we’re here. Period. After we die we turn into dirt, worm food. Lights out, game over. None of that bothers me the way it does some people, I actually find it comforting, but it’s the reason I want to live every moment to the fullest, and make the most of my life, I don’t believe in thechiyas hamaisim or gilgulim, so this is the only shot I’ll ever have.

Do you think going OTD is similar to becoming a Baal Teshuva?

In may ways it is. People go OTD or BT for various reasons, and just like I don’t judge people over why they went OTD, I begrudgingly have to extend the same curtesy to BTs.

As you know, most Baalei Teshuva do not become frum because of belief, it seems to be much more about inspiration, community, and structure. Do you see any value in people becoming frum?

As I alluded to in the previous answer, it wouldn’t be fair of me to disparage people who become Frum for other than intellectual reasons. I’ve been known to chastise BTs for falling for the “Fiddler on the Roof pipe-dream”, but to each their own.

How did you adjust to secular life?

Before I ever dreamt of leaving, I spent years reading, watching and listing to everything I could get my hands on. Purely out of curiosity, I looked up what every American kid reads in high school, what everyone reads in college, the AFI 100 most important films of all time, the must-see TV classics, the music that everybody my age knows, and so on. I spent every free moment pouring over the material. By the time I left, I was pretty well versed in American and non-Jewish culture, but I’d never experienced it first-hand. Some things were harder than others to adjust to, but I think I did okay. It took forever for me to feel comfortable without a hat or a yarmulka on, I felt naked without it. Treif didn’t bother me, neither did Shabbos, once I lost the belief in god, those things lost all meaning to me.

From the time I left, till I joined the army, was about six months, and I slowly started acclimating, but I was busy trying to figure out what I was going to do with myself, so I wasn’t spending time hanging out with shkutzim and learning their ways. In retrospect, the army was the thing that acculturated me the most. I went from having had virtually no contact with the opposite sex, to doing push-ups inches away from them, from the New York area, to a chulent of people from all over the country, and the nice thing about basic training is the fact that everyone is freaked out and out of their element, so I may have been a little more disoriented, but I didn’t stick out like a soar thumb. I’m rather proud of the fact that in my five years in the army, I was never once “outed” as coming from a different background as everyone else. As much homework as I’d done, there is still a ton I will never know or get, but I got very good at smiling and nodding as if I know what they’re talking about. I will never know about Saturday morning cartoons, if I lived another hundred years, I will never run out of things to do to the point where I go back and watch Sesame Street, I was forced to watch four Super Bowls in the army, and I still couldn’t possibly care less about sports, and you couldn’t pay me enough to listen to Britney Spears, yet every time I tell a friend what my upbringing was like and show them pictures, they’re floored, and I get a big kick out of it.

Are all OTDers drug and sex crazed people? Or is that merely one aspect of throwing off the yoke of years of repression?

OTDers (I hate that term) are as sex and drug crazed as Frum people are, or any group of people for that matter. There are some who throw off the yoke in a big way, and go a little crazy, but like everything else, it gets old after a while and they go back to normal.

Is there anything the frum community could do to retain people or absorb people back on the derech?

The ever-increasing extremeness and rigidity is a huge turn-off, for the life of me I can’t understand why they feel the need to constantly move to the right, and act like it’s a chumra competition. Where the Jews of a few generations ago not Frum enough? Were they bad Jews? It makes no sense.

Being that I left because I stopped believing in god, if I had been taught real science as a kid, maybe I wouldn’t have been so shocked to find out that I was so horribly misled all those years. I know Chareidim are afraid of real science and history, but if they took a page out of the MO chinnuch book, maybe people like me wouldn’t be rocked when we find out that everything we’d been told was demonstrably false, and just plain laughable. I’m not saying I subscribe to the beliefs of say Natan Slifkin, or any other MO type hashkafah, but at least they’re trying to reconcile their beliefs with reality, as opposed to burying their heads in the sand.

Having said that, I do have a bit of an affinity for the extremists, at least they put their money where their mouth is, they don’t care what the science shows us, they don’t care what historians say, they ignore the world around them, and are (to some extent) intellectually honest.

There are plenty of other things, but those comes to mind right away.

What do you think is the biggest reason that people leave Judaism?

I don’t think there is any one “main reason”, that’s like asking why people become Frum or convert, every person has their story. However in my experience, a very large percentage say they left for intellectual reasons. We’ve done informal polling here and there, and a very strong majority say they left for similar reasons as I did. Being mistreated in one way or another is a very close second.

Do you know of any currently employed as Orthodox Rabbis that are not frum?

If the Frum world knew the quality and quantity of closeted OTD people in their ranks, they would hold McCarthy-esqu hearings. I am constantly shocked and surprised by the people whom I find out are non-believers, or secretly OTD. I’ve met Chassidim, Litvaks, MOs, Rabbis, cheder rebbes, dayanim, magidey shiurim, chazzanim, and on and on.

Since you are a liberal, does that mean you still give some sort of respect to the when in Rome situations that must arise when you go to frum events? Or do you just stick it to the man?

When I visit family or friends, I always wear a yarmulka, I don’t whip out the phone on Shabbos, I park around the corner, etc. I’m not there to make a statement, I’m there to visit and get along.

Do you think any sort of cooperation between the frum and OTD communities is possible, or will it be similar to that of the frum relationship with Reform and Conservative?

I do a lot of work behind the scenes, and although it doesn’t happen as much as I’d like, there is some cooperation between the “two sides”. There are a select few leaders in the Frum community who are willing to work with us, and stick their necks out to do so. I think it’s in both of our interests to cooperate, simply because fighting will hurt everyone involved. They have money and connections, but we have a lot less to lose, and we don’t mind going to the media, it’s our most powerful tool, and as much as they might say they don’t care what the world says or thinks of them – they care a lot. Media pressure has forced huge changes in the Frum world, whether they admit it or not.

On that note, what do you think of non-Orthodox Jewry?

I don’t identify with non-Orthodox that much, because it’s as foreign to me as Catholicism would be. I don’t have anything against them, and I’ve been to various services and events at this or that denomination, but when I go to shul I’m not going to daven, I’m going for that heimish feeling, the songs I love, the kiddush with booze, schmaltz herring and overnight kugel, and the kind of people I grew up around, even a MO shul feels foreign to me for those reasons.

How did you become such an OTD Gadol?

I like to think it’s thanks to my sharp wit, brilliant sense of humor, sharp insight, and fascinating backstory, but mostly it’s my big mouth, absolute lack of shame, and thirst for attention.

What sort of advice do you give to those who are about the come out of the OTD closet?

Do your homework/research, talk to as many of us before you make that move, make sure it’s the right move, have a plan, and brace yourself for a very bumpy road. But in the end, it’s worth it, freedom and autonomy is worth the trouble it takes to get there.

The OTD community seems just as judgmental as the frum community. If someone whos off the derech decides to become frum again, will they be ostracized in a similar way that they were when they originally went off the derech? It also seems like you have to jump on the band wagon in terms of opinions on politics, religion, science, etcand that the community doesnt really turn people into the individuals they hoped to be.

Sure, we can be judgmental, but is that a bad thing in and of itself? Some people or actions are deserving of judgement. I’ve known people who’ve gone back to being Frum, and we might snicker at them behind their back, but I haven’t seen any overt hostility, and as for ostracizing, that would require us to all agree on something, and we don’t all agree on almost anything.

If you’re looking at us from inside the Frum bubble, we look like carbon copies of each other, because all you see is everything we aren’t. We’re no longer Frum, we might move towards the left on political issues, we might have a new-found love for science, we might have a negative opinion of the community we left or all religion, but that’s because of the prism you’re seeing us through. To a complete outsider, we’re a lot more normal than you’d think. Most young people in this country lean to the left on politics, trust in science and scientists, and have a healthy skepticism of religion. And we argue and debate all of these issues amongst ourselves, so we’re hardly a united voice.

Which sect of Orthodoxy do you hate the most?

I don’t “hate” any of them, what I hate are certain aspects and certain things they do. I have a big problem with the extremism in the chareidi world, it was one of the things that drove me away once I stopped believing.

Why dont those with fake facebook profiles at least come up with good names?

I agree, some of them are pretty darn lame. In fact, I think part of my popularity is due to my clever name, if I may say so myself I should point out that it’s no secret that my name is Ari Mandel, and the only reason I use the fake name is to try and stay out my families face with my antics, even though that’s gotten harder to do over time. I recently changed my Facebook name to my real name, and I was flooded with public and private messages, berating me for it, and saying they didn’t know “Ari Mandel”, they knew the fake name and face they’ve come to recognize, so I changed it back to the way it was.

Is there a lot of drugs and sex at these OTD meetups?

I keep asking the same thing! But apparently I keep getting invited to all the wrong meet-ups. We usually end up sipping wine, and discussing philosophy, or science, or history. It’s quiet disappointing, I know.

Do you think the secular medias fascination with formerly religious Jews is just a fad?

Possibly, but anytime there’s a juicy story, they’ll be more than happy to cover it. I just hope I get my book out before the interest dies down I haven’t written a single page yet.

What will you do when your attention whoring doesnt get attention anymore?

Become a BT? Drink my own urine? I’ll think of something. Although pretty much everything that’s ever gotten me attention has just sort of fallen in my lap, I didn’t plan on getting noticed for them.

What will it take for Mishpacha, Yated, or the Zev Brenner show to notice the booming community?

Each one of those has already taken notice of us, and addressed it in their own ways. Of course being Frum outlets they had to take the Frum angel, but they’ve all discussed the “OTD crisis” in one way or another.

Do you care to explain to our audience why the kids at risk crisis of the middle 90s is nothing to do with the current state of affairs.

To be honest with you, I don’t know a ton about it. I was busy being a good chassidishe yeshiva bochur in the 90s. If you’re referring to kids screwing off and smoking weed, my impression is that they were just being teenagers, and most of them eventually went back to being nice Frum Yidden. The OTD people I know (for the most part) were never part of that scene, and we aren’t rebelling against our parents.

Where do you see the OTD community in 3 years from now, 5 or 10?

I have no clue. I’m sure we’ll have grown in numbers and strength, but I can’t say what it’ll look like.

A local kiruv Rabbi once asked me if I think were losing more people than we bring in. Do you think that the OTD community will become large enough to the point that BTs wont be able to replace the population?

I have no idea. The more people leave, the easier it becomes for others to follow, and that coupled with the internet are making it much easier for people to leave, so the numbers and rate will continue to climb, but your guess is as good as mine as to how large those numbers will go.

Editors note Iapologizefor the black fonts, but these were sent in a different format I guess.

Do you have any heroes? Frum ones perhaps?

I think the word ‘hero’ is over-prescribed, and I don’t like it, I do however have friends and acquaintances, whom I hold in high esteem – both Frum and not Frum, and even non-Jewish, shocking as that may be.

My third grade Rebbe is one of the smartest people I know, and we’ve kept in touch to this day. I have never once found a subject that he wasn’t very well informed on, and didn’t have a well thought out opinion on, but obviously his favorite subject is Torah, which he sits and studies all day. He’s completely unknown, doesn’t have a shul or a yeshiva, but I would put him up against any well known godol any day, he’s brilliant. But more than that, as chassidish and conservative as he is in his personal life, he’s the kindest and most gentle person to everyone he meets. He has all sorts of people come through his house, and he doesn’t give anyone even a crooked glance. When I was in Basic Training, I was shocked to get a hand-written letter from him. He went out of his way to track down a family member and get my address. He was one of only two people who wrote me.

My brother and I have a minhag of going to his house every year on Purim evening, getting hammered out of our minds, and then singing Yom Tov Ehrlich songs all night.

He’s one of the many rabbis I spoke to about faith and god, and he very quickly said to me that these are matters of faith, and there was no way to prove it. I respect anyone who is honest about their beliefs, and doesn’t try to justify or twist themselves into a pretzel in order to make their beliefs fit reality as we know it.

Some of the rabbis and lay-people I work with on the issue of child molestation and abuse are the closest things to heroes I know. I didn’t get into it much here, but it’s something I’m very involved in, and unfortunately the Frum community does everything to shove it under the rug and pretend it doesn’t exist, so the few leaders who don’t do that deserved to be commended.

Other than those, the friends I have from years ago who never missed a beat, and stayed close to me as if nothing ever happened, lose; life-long friends I made in the army, and my family who puts up with my shtick on a daily basis – they are all tzaddikim.

And Pat Tillman. Look him up.

Can you give the frum community any advice on how to “deal” with the OTD issue?

Kill us with kindness. If you ever want to have a relationship with your kids or grandkids, or if you ever want us to come back (I’m a lost cause, but some of us aren’t) the only way you stand a chance is by playing nice. And I’m not talking about those fake kiruv smiles, between offers to shake your lulav and free trips to Uman, I’m talking about being super nice without asking or expecting anything in return. As the saying goes: “you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar”. Or you can continue to attack and vilify us, and you’ll never resolve anything. The choice is yours. It’s 2013, the tactics that worked 20, 40, or 100 years ago will not work anymore, some of us will fight back, but most will just vanish, never to be seen or heard of again, strong-arm tactics will not get you very far.

Any last words, shameless self promotion, mussar…

If you’re thinking of going OTD for the treif food – don’t do it. Bacon? Overrated. Seafood? Meh. Cheeseburgers? Blech. The best food can be made from kosher sources or faked. Look at me, after years of treifing it up I went veggie, and I’m doing just fine. I think the happiest day of my parents’ life was the day they found out I became a vegetarian.

Don’t call anyone a ‘self-hating Jew’. Ever. It means nothing, and it’s akin to me calling Chareidim Nazis, it’s a conversation stopper, and it says more about you that it does about the one you’re addressing. Even if I accept your premise that I (for instance) hate Jews, I still don’t hate myself, so it’s just stupid a thing to say.

I’ve gotten the same question a lot over the last couple days: “The Da Vinci Code? Really? That’s what did it for you?” No, dummy, that’s what got me reading other books, which ultimately led to the real kfira, the Da Vinci Code itself didn’t do much for me.

I’m running the Jerusalem Marathon in March, and I’m raising money for Chai Lifeline . I’ve raised about half the amount needed, and I need to hurry up and get there. I specifically chose Chai Lifeline because they are a Frum organization, but I like what they do, and they are highly rated. They don’t do kiruv or hand out Chumashim, they help kids with terminal illnesses and their families. So spare me a few shekels! And don’t worry, I don’t get any of it, it all goes to tzedakah.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Anonymous

    Lmao reading this question, “What will you do when your attention whoring doesn’t get attention anymore?”

  • zach

    Great interview. But it ended on a sour note, plugging Chai Lifeline. Latest 990 has Exec Director Sam Zaks making $430,000, Exec VP Stephen Scholar making $313,000 and Exec Director Abraham Cohen making $250,000, Levi Katlowitz $275,000. Sixteen people in all made over 100K. Total of 8 Million USD in salaries out of 15.5 Million in Grants.

    Disgusting.

  • Aliza

    Nothing new under the sun…
    There is always some influx and outflux of followers in any religion, the process that might be sped up nowadays because of the general cultural ferment and greater availability of information. It’s not surprising and it doesn’t make anyone special. The question is: is it good for the Jews? I will try to answer it later, but first let me comment on the interview.

    Some parts of it I find highly amusing. So there are people who truly believe that their eyes got open, because they read some books in public library? And ascribing to the liberal views has nothing to do with being bombarded day and night with the message of liberal media, liberal academia and what-not, but is a result of intellectual curiosity? Better education? That’s just too funny 🙂

    There is no book in this world or even set of books that can enlighten anybody. Including the most holy books. In reading there is implicit interpretation of the text through one’s subjective bias and only severe lack of critical thinking and/or narcissistic delusion can make one believe that he was somehow capable to uncover the Truth. The Truth is still waiting to be uncovered, and whoever claims that was able to see through the myriads of its veils is or very young and silly or just plain silly.

    Now back to my question: is it good for the Jews? I think yes, it’s good. Judaism was never meant as a universal religion for feeble-minded. It’s not to patch your wounds, make money or even provide answers. Of course people try to use it for different purposes anyway, but it doesn’t invalidate it.

    I think it’s commendable to live true to oneself and not to pretend to be someone else. That being said, let’s not make a heroic tale from a mere ego trip.

    • David

      I do think we can get a “whiff” of the truth through hard-work and self-honest reasoning, but we mostly deal in subjective “personal truths” – ergo, what works for us as individuals, or families, or communities. To quote R’ Yohanan – “do not be sure of yourself until the day you die.” Hareidim – and former Hareidim who go OTD, tend to be very sure of themselves.

      • Anonymous

        I’m not so sure, considering that he’s willing to listen to kiruv

      • Aliza

        “Whiffs” are fine, as long as we are not mistaking them for the whole meal 🙂 They keep us going and wanting more.

    • A. Nuran

      Some parts of it I find highly amusing. So there are people who truly believe that their eyes got open, because they read some books in public library? And ascribing to the liberal views has nothing to do with being bombarded day and night with the message of liberal media, liberal academia and what-not, but is a result of intellectual curiosity? Better education? Thats just too funny

      The fact that you react with such scorn and disbelief says more about you than it does about anyone else. It’s also an excellent argument for real education and lots of it. Memorizing gemara and vomiting up political slogans on demand is not education.

      • Reason

        Agreed as usual A.Nuran. But ignorance is ignorance.

      • Aliza

        It’s quite possible that the source of the interviewee confusion is substandard education. But I’m not sure if there is any type of education available that can implement good software (critical reasoning) when good hardware is missing. I have no doubts that learning Torah is more conducive toward this goal, but it’s certainly not fool-proof and of course not everywhere it’s taught properly.

        • Cavegirl Aliza

          Yea especially when its all nonsense. Unless learning about talking donkeys, women as second hand citizens, slave ownership, genocide commandments, and a young earth is educational in your mind.

        • Lucky for me, I spent twenty years studying Torah, so I developed the critical thinking skills necessary to discern reality from bullshit, like global floods, talking snakes, burning bushes, and the sun revolving around the earth.

        • A. Nuran

          I know that the Great Old Ones have all the wisdom. When they break wind we all faint because it smells so good. And their every utterance dribbles DOS Torah. But once in a while soulless goy-filth come up with something that has a hint of a whisper of a glimmer of truth or at least monkey-cleverness. When a mind not so refined and powerful as yours encounters those fragments of not-quite-lies it can inspire them and open new vistas sometimes even beyond the walls of the tax write-off basement shul.

          When Erasmus – not a yid, so you’ve never heard of him – began to read the Classics he was moved to write:

          A heathen wrote this to a heathen. Yet it has sanctity. Justice. Truth. I can scarcely refrain from saying ‘St. Socrates, pray for us!’

          Weak-minded (is there any other kind?) of Gentiles and inferior yidden with poor yichus have been known to achieve a laughable sort of transcendence when they learn Physics and a mathematically powerful notion extends itself or find their souls moved by goyishe dilettantes like Beethoven or they watch a particularly incisive kofirah argument inexorably tear down a cherished view of history.

          But you are safely insulated from that sort of drek. Your strength is as the strength of ten because your heart is pure. Ooops. Sorry. That’s Tennyson. Trifles like poetry will just bounce off.

          • chanah

            I couldn’t agree more, A. Nuran.

    • Aliza thinks she sounds smart but frum = dumb

      I dk, I think bronze age philosophy is totally socially out of touch and a throw back which is holding back the unification of the world rather than us vs them, chosen vs unchosen all found in 5 books written by many men over hundreds of years. But I guess fairytales and kids stories never get old to the feeble minded sheep of any religion.

      • Aliza

        I find your name flattering. As there is no possibility that you have access to what I think, it must be your projection. 🙂

    • Aliza –
      “So there are people who truly believe that their eyes got open, because they read some books in public library? And ascribing to the liberal views has nothing to do with being bombarded day and night with the message of liberal media, liberal academia and what-not, but is a result of intellectual curiosity? Better education? Thats just too funny”
      The feeling is mutual. You think you were raised to think and believe in your particular fairytale, were inundated with BS by the right-wing media, and you think you have a clue? That’s too funny.
      “There is no book in this world or even set of books that can enlighten anybody.”
      I agree, your favorite book of myths is not worth parsing even for one minute, and it’s been proven conclusively to be written by desert nomads who didn’t know about gravity or germ theory, so I agree, you must be “very young and silly or just plain silly.” (as you put it).
      “Is it good for the Jews” – I couldn’t possibly care less.

      • Bear-of-Peace

        “Proven conclusively”
        This is where you and atheists in general lose all credibility, where you shed the cloak of scientific impartiality and reveal your own biases.

        • Anonymous

          So what. Everybody is bias.

        • Anonymous

          The Mormons would say the same about how foolish you are for not accepting their “bible 3.0”, as would the Romans…. I mean “Christians” about you not accepting their 2.0.

        • Educate yourself. No one besides fundamentalists believe that anyone other than desert nomads wrote the bible.

          • Aliza

            No one besides fundamentalist and feeble-minded believes that something can be “proven conclusively” in soft sciences. Even hard science doesn’t offer immutable laws, go figure! Not to mention that the most important aspects of the reality are completely beyond the scope of any science.

            • Silly Girl

              Bottom line, do you believe in talking donkeys, plagues of frogs, sun revolving around earth, and the like? Do you really think a Perfect Diety would conern Himself/Herself with the laws of slavery and comanded genocide based on divine favoritism? Or does it sound more like a nomad wrote in the Bronze Age as a means of holding together an Isrealite nationhood?

            • A. Nuran

              Which just shows you are ignorant of the physical and social sciences right down to the fundamentals. Almost nothing is ever “proven conclusively”. Things are disproven all the time. Evidence as gathered and conclusions are drawn for the rest. They can always be overturned by new data or subsumed into better theory.

              But the myths which you cling to can never rise to that level of rigor or even the heights of an undergraduate thesis in quantitative sociology. They can only shrink in the face of scrutiny or lash out in violent desperation.

              • Reason

                Well said as always A.Nuran!

            • You’re so quick to dismiss “soft science”, yet you cling to an ancient book, that’s clearly full of errors and terrible material (to put it mildly). I find your arguments comical.

              • Anonymous

                haha so true!

        • A. Nuran

          If you can back up your biases with evidence it’s perfectly fine.
          So far no theistic religion has been able to do so. On the other hand every time they’ve made testable claims those have gone down in flames. The evidence is all on the “no gods” side.

          But the atheists don’t have to prove diddly. The burden of proof is on the people making extravagant claims.

          In this case the claims are that an invisible alien intelligence created the world according to steps laid out in a particular book and that that book and all the stuff in it are true. That’s where the burden of proof lies. The null hypotheses, which we have to state more politely than “Pull the other one, it’s got bells on”, are that there is no such being and no such Absolutely True Magic Book. So far no evidence has been forthcoming, and plenty of crucial statments in TMB have been shown to be false.

          Your move, theists.

      • A. Nuran

        It’s not accurate to say it was written by desert nomads. Plenty of it was stolen 🙂

        A lot was lifted from settled and civilized cultures. There are parts which are plagiarized directly from the Code of Hammurabi.

        • Reason

          And most of all Sumerian mythology

          • A. Nuran

            Don’t know enough Sumerian mythology to comment intelligently on that.

            • Smells Frum

              Google it, you will be blown away

      • Jewish Nazi

        Well said 🙂 yeshivish people enjoy their false sense of certainty. But it is false.

      • Aliza

        “The feeling is mutual. You think you were raised to think and believe in your particular fairytale, were inundated with BS by the right-wing media, and you think you have a clue?”

        Well, I have an obvious advantage that I read the interview whereas you have no clue about where I’m coming from. I was raised in a purely secular milieu, where religion was tolerated only as a form of a fancy retreat and was never allowed to have any substantial impact on one’s life. I hate to burst your bubble, but no matter how hard you study secular world I still have better knowledge of it, though I don’t think it’s something one should be proud of. There is beautiful poetry, music, literature, philosophy and all the ways you can entertain yourself, feel refined and cultured. But in the reality there is nothing there.

    • Mmbmtl

      I guess you’ll just never understand. Not everybody does.

  • Frozen Chosen

    Regarding questions you get in the manner of “are all OTD people the sex/drugs crazed sorts?” (whether or not satire)… Do you think that within your circle and within the frum circle there are varying nuances or semantics of what OTD means? I think that within frum circles, OTD remains to carry the association of angry, antagonistically rebellious, dangerous behavior, etc, even by secular standards. In contrast, a story like yours, you’d be referred to more appropriately as assimilated. Does that makes sense? Do you disagree? Kinda reminds me of Chris Rock’s monumental Blacks vs Ni**ers piece. In any event, thanks to both of you for providing this interview, it’s wonderfully thought-provoking and entertaining!

  • Tova

    It’s a poor person who hasn’t been enlightened by the written word.

    • Breeding out

      You forgot to quote the caveman-beardface who said that in between molesting yeshivah students

  • Tara

    I’d love to hear examples of how media attention caused change in the frum world. It would save my disillusioned soul

    • One example is the way Chabad deals with sexual abuse in Crown Hights. They were just like most other Frum communities not long ago, they were strongly against calling the police, they shuffled known pedophiles from yeshiva to yeshiva, they attacked people who spoke out, and so on. But after the media got wind of it, and blasted them for it, they changed their tune entirely.

    • One example is how Chabad in Crown Hights handles child molestation. Until recently they were against calling the police, and tried to hide the whole issue, but since the media got wind of it and blasted them for it, they’ve changed their tune entirely.

      • A. Nuran

        Yeah. Now they’re all in favor of calling the Police if a Gentile commits a crime. And they’ll allow as how you should call the police if there’s a crime in progress that you personally witness. But they still say you should consult your rabbi in other cases. Got that one straight from the President of the UO in a phone call sometime back.

  • Crowin’ Cock

    Interesting set of interviews. Certain concepts of his new life don’t make any sense to me, maybe because I’m an observant Jew.

    For starters, I don’t see why he or any other OTD’s view themselves as being intellectually superior. There are plenty of well educated BT’s and converts, so it’s definitely more of a 2 way street than they would have you believe.

    Next, I think that despite what he claims, he still has the “inner spark” that makes him want to do things that would be irrational to an atheist. Personally, I can’t see why anyone would want to give charity or help mentally ill people if not for the moral / ethical values spawned by religion. Are the mentally ill an asset to society, that they need our caring and help? Perhaps they should be euthanized at birth to ensure better race genetics?

    I can’t see why anyone would want to go vegetarian, unless they had some severe condition that required them to avoid meat. No tofu concoction is going to replace a tasty steak on a wood fire, and human beings are omnivores. Could it be some underlying belief in some sort of karma, or perhaps peer pressure to fit in to the new left wing / liberal minded society he/they have chosen?

    Personally, I think the the author has simply traded one given religion/culture for another.

    • Aliza

      “Personally, I think the the author has simply traded one given religion/culture for another.”

      I couldn’t agree more. It seems to me that the liberal atheist views are one of the most fundamentalists religions that modern world knows. Their followers tend not to accept any proof against their creed and are very intolerant. In some countries they can put you to jail for having different opinion.

      Besides they are so mainstream.

      • Reason

        Maybe they are trading the racist/insular/”chosen” throw-back Jewish culture for a universal humanistic culture. Its called evolution if you believe in such things.

        • Crowin’ Cock

          Evolution from what? Apes that do charity? I believe the concept of charity comes from the moral/ethical upbringing that is biblically based.

          Take any toddler, put him or her in room with other toddlers. Add toys. See how many share without being taught or trained to do so.

          Charity is the opposite of being “humanistic”, it’s called character refinement, a key aspect of religion.

          • Ari Gold

            Why don’t you ask God to give you answers to your questions and let me know what he says. Detail for detail.

            • Crowin’ Cock

              Huh???

              • Reason

                You will get no response. Just like there has been no response in MODERN RECORDED HISTORY

                • Crowin’ Cock

                  Now you are talking out of complete ignorance. Many communicate with God, myself included, and many have been answered, myself included. Maybe not in the same manner as I would communicate with other people, but their is definitely an open channel, you just need to tap into it.

                  • Ari Gold

                    Are you that wasn’t Zeus you were communicating with?

                    He works miracles too you know.

                    • Crowin’ Cock

                      I don’t see why zeus would have mixed in to any conversations he wasn’t involved in 😉

                  • Reason

                    Of course and such people live in…insane asylums.

                    • Crowin’ Cock

                      Seriously? Are childish comments the best you can come with? I personally know very successful business people, lawyers and professors that have done so.

                      Your sheer ignorance puts you below the level of those you so easily write off as lunatics.

          • Religion teaches you to be charitable with a thousand conditions, evolution has made us charitable without conditions, because that’s how we all get along, and we all do better as a result. Every group or community on the planet has the concept of charity, no matter what their religion is, or even if they have no religion.

          • A. Nuran

            Then how do you explain non-Jewish, non-Christian, non-Muslim cultures all over the world, throughout history, which have practiced charity? If it’s all your Magic Book these shouldn’t exist.

            Further, if you learn anything about non-human animals you find a lot of things analogous to charity. Behavior consistent with reciprocity is found in all sorts of social animals. So is protection and aid towards others who are in trouble.

            • Crowin’ Cock

              The common denominator is that they all have or have had some sort of religious belief in tbose cultures.

              As for animals, any so called “good” they do, is to ensure the survival of their species. Once a given animal is frail or sick, nature’s “cruel” side becomes apparent. For example, a mother bird feeding only the stronger chicks, a bass eating it’s own young while protecting it’s nest, etc.

              I would be very surprised to see a lion or cheetah delivering food to some helpless zebra or wildebeest.

          • A. Nuran

            It is clear that you know absolutely nothing about
            a) Animal behavior
            b) Biology
            c) Humanism including religious humanism
            d) History
            e) Anthropology
            f) Any culture or group other than your own
            g) Your own religion, come to think of it

            Until you rectify a few of these failings it doesn’t really make much sense to continue the discussion

            • Crowin’ Cock

              You obviously know nothing about what I know or don’t know. You don’t know me, don’t know where I’ve been educated, don’t know what I do for a living, nor what my passions and pastimes are. To make all these assumptions based on nothing, is simply arrogant.

              Based on that, I do agree that it’s pointless to continue the discussion.

              • Angry Frum = Defensive Clown

                Got nothing? Check mate.

      • Their followers tend not to accept any proof against their creed and are very intolerant.”

        I hear you flapping your gums, but I have yet to hear any of this alleged “proof”.

        “In some countries they can put you to jail for having different opinion.”

        Surely you jest. There are dozens of countries all over the world where you can be punished or even killed for being an atheist, and they’re all countries run by religion.

      • A. Nuran

        The difference between faith and science is that faith must, by definition, ignore anything which contradicts it in order to preserve belief. Science, however imperfectly, changes its conclusions in response to new and better information.

        Atheism is very much like what you believe. Atheists simply believe in one less set of fairy tales than you do. Do you believe in the Truth of the Vedas? Do you believe in Osiris? Is Moloch a real god? How about Odin in the Elder Edda? Do you wear the Sacred String like a good Zoroastrian? How about sacrificing a hecatomb of oxen to Zeus?

        No? You say you don’t have any reason to believe they exist. Well, atheists just go that tiny step further and say the same thing about your Magic Book and your tribal deity. And since you have no more evidence to back up your claims than a Hawaiian Kahuna or a Vodou Houngan they are being perfectly reasonable.

        • Anon

        • Reason

          awesome A.Nuran!

    • Anonymous

      Giving charity and helping others is a human characteristic. The God of War does not need to teach it. Rabbis rape children

      • Crowin’ Cock

        Anon,

        See above reply regarding “human characteristics”.

        Regarding your idiotic comment about rabbis, I’d venture to say that there are more atheist rapists than those that are rabbis. Check with you local prison/penitentiary to confirm.

          • Crowin’ Cock

            That census lumped all Jews into one category. How many are frum Jews? How many have smicha? How many actually practiced as rabbis?

            I’d venture to say that there are less than 156 ordained / practicing rabbis currently imprisoned in the US.

            • “Id venture to say that there are more atheist rapists than those that are rabbis. Check with you local prison/penitentiary to confirm.”

              You’ve been proven wrong, feel free to shut up and read a book now.

              • Crowin’ Cock

                Your link proves absolutely nothing. I clearly said “rabbis” in my original statement, not “jews”. Furthermore, most of the people that identify themselves as being part of certain religion, don’t necessarily practice them. Take yourself as a prime example.

                Furthermore, prisoners tend to identify more with religion once they are imprisoned, either out of remorse, or simply as a ploy to get early parole. I should know, I have a couple friends that are prison rabbis, and have visited inmates in penitentiaries myself.

                The more this discussion does on, the more I get the impression that you are a young pipsqueek with a lot to learn before sending others to the library.

        • A. Nuran

          There are many times as many non-Jews as there are rabbis.
          What’s different is that Orthodox rabbonim as a class have done everything in their power to keep people who rape children from the justice they deserve. They have almost unanimously condemned the victims, canonized the molesters, tampered with witnesses, corrupted evidence, used bloc political power and sheltered the filth from the Law.

          The few exceptions like Nuchem Rosenburg have been shunned, condemned and in some cases assaulted with deadly weapons for daring to seek justice for the victims. That puts the rabbonim on a far lower moral scale than the Gentile population at large.

          • Crowin’ Cock

            Again, more baseless comments generalizing all rabbis as rapists, or people that cover up for them. Based on your logic, all blacks are gangbangers, all muslims are jihadists, and all jews are hooknosed crooks. Julius Streicher would be proud of you.

            • Don’t tell mama

              Well it certainly seems to be coming a real pattern. My non-Jewish coworkers always equate frum rabbies with child molesters same as Catholic priests. Very religious = sexual predator

              • Crowin’ Cock

                Non Jews also accused Jews of cooking their matza with christian babies blood more than a few times, good excuse to rob, rape and murder helpless shtetl jews.

                As for catholic priests, they are forced to be “celibate”, so I imagine they are more repressed than rabbis.

                Child molesting rabbis are a small minority. Those that try to cover up are guilty as well. There are plenty of good rabbis out there as well. As with any other group, you simply sift out the jerks and associate with the ones you respect.

    • I never once said I am intellectually superior.
      Your morality comes from the same book that advocates genocide, killing adulterers and misbehaving children, calls for the stoning of someone who lights a fire on Saturday, and thinks killing entire cities or 99.9% of the planet is a rational punishment. My morality comes from thinking about what will cause the least amount of pain and damage. That’s why I would contribute to the mentally ill, that’s why I don’t eat animals.
      I’d love to hear what exactly my current religion or culture consists of.

      • Crowin’ Cock

        Maybe not, but it’s definitely implied in most of your comments alluding to religion as a bunch of fairy tales and it’s followers with the mindset of toddlers. Can’t imagine that you actually believe that.

        Your culture is simple. Basically, if it feels good, just do it. Feels nice to help the ill or save the chickens? Give charity, become vegan. Feels nice get shtupped in tuchus by your buddy? No problem, get married to him (or don’t). All self centered under the guise of liberalism.

        “Humanism” at it’s purest form would be the law of the jungle, eat or be eaten. Religion defined most modern day morals and ethic. As for all the violence, we haven’t stoned any Shabbat desecraters or wiped out any civilization in a couple thousand years.

        Shabbat Shalom.

        • Ari Gold

          Does it not sound like fairy tales?

        • Religion is indeed a bunch of fairytales, but their fairytales that a huge percentage of the planet is brainwashed into believing from the day they’re born, so it doesn’t make you a toddler to fall for it.

          Yes, all of those things are perfectly fine with me, as long as no one is hurt by it – I have no problem with it. And I’m a proud liberal, so calling me one is not an insult, it’s a compliment.

          Religion is a racing stripe on the underpants of humanity, it ruins everything, and makes good people do terrible things. Humanism is the only reason we aren’t all killing each other all the time, it’s the only thing stopping religion from pillaging and raping everything and everyone on the planet.

          • Crowin’ Cock

            The world seems to have got on just fine with religion, though quite bumpy at times. Proof is that we are all still here. Modern atheism has only been around for a few hundred years, how did we all survive until then?

            Furthermore, atheism hasn’t changed the world into a better place, humanity is still in chaos, and it’s not getting any better any time soon. Blaming religion for the world’s problems is just another way of justifying your beliefs.

            Lastly, I wasn’t trying to insult you by calling you a liberal, it’s simply what you’ve become. I know the type very well, my mother in law is about as liberal/atheist as you can get. Doesn’t make her a bad person, she actually very kind. Just makes it lot’s of fun to get into heated discussion every once in a while.

            • Atheism is as old as the human race, it is the default position.

              Humanity is in chaos mostly because of religion, it’s only gotten better at all because of the gradual lessening influence of religion.

              • Anonymous

                well said

              • Crowin’ Cock

                You don’t know that atheism is the default position, it’s simply your assumption. After all, their is no scientific proof…

                If you’d base your views on science you seem to so much believe in, most archeological digs on all continents point to some sort of organized religion being practiced. Egyptians, Vikings, Mayans, etc.

                • Atheism has nothing to do with science, all it is is the lack of belief. You are (presumably) an a-Santa-ist, an a-tooth fairy-ist. All that is required to be an atheist is to ask for evidence. You believe, I don’t see any reason to believe. It’s that simple. Therefor atheism is the default position. If you never taught a baby about god, it would never invent one. So once again, atheism is the default position, until you are taught to believe in this or that children’s story.

                  As for ancient religions, we all know they existed, but we also know they were invented, so before they were invented, they were (for lack of a better word) atheists.

                  • Anonymous

                    Since you don’t believe in belief, I’d like to see your “scientific proof” that atheism was the default position.

                    If atheism were the default position, how we so many different religions formed? Why do all the ancient dgis throughout all the different continents point to organized religion being practiced by most early civilizations?

                  • Anonymous

                    But you do believe the world created itself.Why?What evidence do you have for that?

                    • Anon

                      Do you think God cares about this trivial talk?

              • Anonymous

                Absurd and utterly ignorant statement.

                Perpetrators of greatest genocides in history:

                Mao Tzedong, atheist– aprox 60 million

                Stalin, atheist — difficult to count but probably around 40 million

                Hitler, did not espouse or practice any religion, racial theories based on pseudo “science” — number of deaths attributed depends on how you count. Direct murders, 12,0000, but also responsible for 50,000 Russian war deaths, etc.

                Japanese high command in WWII, motivated by nationalism and imperialism. Probably around 5 million.

                Pol Pot, another atheist. Around 2.5 million.

                “The dream of reason produces monsters.”

                • Anonymous

                  I meant of course 12 million and 50 million re: Hitler. Just left off a few zeroes.

                • Here’s the difference between the ones you listed, and the millions killed throughout history because of religion. Mao Zedong, Stalin, and Pol Pot happened to be atheists, but they didn’t act the way they did BECAUSE of their atheism. Religious killers do so in the name of their imaginary friend, and have been doing so for thousands of years.

                  Hitler? Please. Do a simple google search. He was a Catholic, he talked about god as the inspiration for his actions all the time, he had “god with us” printed on the SS uniforms, and he had the support of the Catholic church.

                  Religion has been the reason for people killing each other for thousands of years, and it continues to this day. The only reason those numbers are slowly going down are because rationality and skepticism of these silly beliefs is growing.

                  • Crowin’ Cock

                    Hitler started using God in his propaganda only once he realized that going against the church would lose him support among mainstream Germans. Being the opportunist that he was, he jumped shipped as soon as he realized. He also portrayed himself as a nordic knight the savior to the white race deeply routed in nordic mythology.

                    Back to the library, this time, read some history instead of fiction.

                  • Anonymous

                    “Gott mitt uns” was on the belt buckle of German soliders (not “SS”) from 1871. Hitler was in no way, shape, or form, a practicing Catholic. He didn’t use religion to rabble rouse against the Jews (“they killed Jesus!”) he used “science” — “they are an inferior race, they have taken over our economy, they are bleeding us dry, they are diluting our ethnic purity”). The same philosophy was also used to justify the murder of handicapped children, gypsies, gays, and many others. It had nothing to do with Christianity. It had to do with building a “master race” of superior beings.

                    To say that “atheism” was not the “motive” of Stalin and Mao is absurd. They had a highly developed philosophy of life — a philosophy that shut out God and put “man” at the center of the universe. This philosophy was exactly and entirely the basis and justification of each and every of their actions. “We don’t need “God” (or even some outdated Eastern philosophy like Buddhism or Taoism) to tell us what to do anymore. We will become gods ourselves. There will be no right or wrong, good or evil, except as we define it, except as it serves our cause.”

                  • Anonymous

                    Actually (to continue) if you read “Mein Kamp” Hitler states that he found “religious” anti-semitism to be crude, primitive, and repugnant and that, for a long time, he prided himself on being above such unworthy prejudice. It was only when he realized that the Jews were actually the enemies of mankind (in general) and the Nordic peoples (in particular) that he became an anti-semite.

                    • Anonymous

                      Kampf, although “Kamp” works too.

  • Anonymous

    One question I would to see answered: (The interviewee here is NOT the person I want the answer from)

    What percent of OTD people end up ultimately regretting it?Although the current OTD crowd isn’t old enough to really see it’s end from my relatives and aquantices who went OTD that lived past their 70’s I would a very high number wishes they wouldn’t of.I also can think of two people who major career OTD people in the early 90’s that currently are frum. I was saw on some blog (but doubt)that the major character “yossi” in Hella Winston’s book is now frum.)

  • T
  • I know you don’t want my answer, but I’ll provide it anyways.
    For every person you know who became Frum again, or regretted going OTD, I know ten who are still OTD in their old age, and don’t regret it. You make it sound like going OTD just started last week, it’s been going on for as long as Jews have existed.

    • Anonymous

      I was expecting a comment like that. I will leave you with a thought from one of the most famous OTD people in the past 200 years,Isaac Bashevis Singer.

      “When Chazal say that the wicked don’t repent even when they stand at the gates of hell they showed more understanding of human psychology then all the Frueds,Jungs & Adlers put together… “

  • Ari Gold

    Sometimes when one questions how God runs the world or says how he or she thinks it should be run, they are silenced with who are you to question God? His ways are not comprehensible to you. Youre like an ant trying to understand astrophysics! (Well that specific statement may not be so common) Well isnt that what forefather Avraham does in the Parsha that was read this morning (Parshas Vayera)? He argues with God regarding the destruction of Sdom and says how could the judge of the whole world act not justly killing the righteous with the wicked? It turns out God agrees and says if there are 10 (I guess 9 is no biggee) righteous among them He wont destroy Sdom. Well the biggest questioning of Gods ways have to do with just this issue – unnecessary suffering. We see from the Torah this is valid questioning.

    Without this raaya (proof) I always thought it made sense to question. If the Torah describes God as good, just, loving etc, – we must understand these traits as they are generally understood and so we have a right to see if these traits pan out in what we observe.

    Another point. If God is incomprehensible then He is irrelevant in the following sense. There is no way to know what It really wants. For example, maybe It gave the Torah to see how people would react to it, but anyways enjoys making creatures suffer and has no intention to give any reward. Maybe Its highest value is lying. Maybe It is playing a big joke according to Its unfathomable humor. Maybe It expected us to follow Jesus and then Mohammad. Maybe we just misunderstood Its unfathomable wishes. Maybe It enjoys slavery a lot and all religion is is to have slaves, and no goodness, as is merely humanly understood, is in the offing. Maybe It really just loves bacteria. I encourage you to use your imagination to consider the possibilities.

    • BlueJew
      • Anonymous

        I believe it takes longer when you add a link to this website to see your post.

    • Human Race vs Jewish Racism

      or…maybe it was written by Bronze Age nomads and G-d is as indifferent and beautifully free as Nature presents itself rather than as a cranky old man like the one who wrote the Torah?

  • tzfatisha

    Judaism seems to me to be more of a religion of action/deeds than belief/faith as such.
    I don’t have a problem with the idea that the Torah is metaphorically true rather than literally true. Also I understand that lots of rabbis say that it is all meant as metaphor and isn’t meant to be taken literally.
    Other books in the bible like Kings, Chronicles, Jeremiah, Ezekiel are actually historical record -minus the miracles etc of course.
    I’m doing an online course at the moment from Tel Aviv Uni called ‘The fall and rise of Jerusalem’ and the lecturer quotes from these books all the time and compares them to the Babylonian Chronicles because they all correlate with each other.
    So it’s not all ‘fairy tales’.
    People forget that in the old days people remembered things orally with stories, and that it was only later that things were written down.
    I understand that originally only the Decalogue was considered to be ‘the word of G-d’, and it was only later that the ‘yad Moshe’ was put on the whole Torah, ie that Moshe took dictation so to speak.
    No one is forcing anyone to believe, so there is really no reason to argue. Yes some rabbis are bad. Yes some people feel very hard done by by their education. Yes some people want/need to go OTD, yes some of us become BT because it gives us something we need, so what. Live and let live people!

  • My blog site is in the process of documenting why OJ is bogus for anybody who cares to read it. It is all in the academic literature. Simply put religions were a way ignorant ancient people made sense of their world. Where did we/universe come from ? Why was our country invaded ? Why did we lose the battle ? Why did a drought occur ? Why crops failed ? etc: etc: People invented gods and then invented ways to appease the gods to gain favors or achieve control over people. http://altercockerjewishatheist.blogspot.com/

  • My blog site is in the process of documenting why OJ is bogus for anybody who cares to read it. It is all in the academic literature. Simply put religions were a way ignorant ancient people made sense of their world. Where did we/universe come from ? Why was our country invaded ? Why did we lose the battle ? Why did a drought occur ? Why crops failed ? etc: etc: People invented gods and then invented ways to appease the gods to gain favors or achieve control over people.

    • Reason

      Yes, a way of controlling the uncontrollable.

  • Pingback: Is the OTD community another religion in disguise? | Kol B'Isha Erva()

  • Kayla

    Truth be told the OTD comments get old quick. Being told you are at risk gets old quick. The few times I allowed these “Torah Scholars” to help me they made me feel worse and ditched me for notbeing brainwashed.

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  • IshEchad

    The OTD “gadol” basically says that it is a very hard path – but worth it for the “freedom”. However the question is freedom from what ? Rules and laws ? There will always be rules and laws and restrictions, be them imposed by society, health, other issue. I believe the OTD is an intense focus on an inner feeling – that rules the person – but in reality has very or little standing. The OTD kids that I know – have much less actual “freedom” and bought themselves into a slew of many problems an average young person does not deal with. Many of them are forced to work long hours and menial jobs – and be tied down by the complications of their change. The “payoff” is an internal experience “feeling” or “illusion” of “freedom”.

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  • valleymama

    my overall impression after reading this…Rachmuna Litzlon is still a shayne yid. Guess I still believe that the Jewish soul is always beautiful. So sue me!