Imagine an Off The Derech Utopia

off the derech Thanks to Love Equality for writing it.

Imagine a Neo Hasidic community, where you can believe in evolution, the Big Bang and the FSM, you can play basketball, football and hockey, wear a t-shirt, jeans and Rashi-gatches, unlimited masturbation, loads of kishka, kugel and cholent, you can eat lobster on Yom Kipur and pizza on Pesach, you can have premarital relationships and sex, you can listen to Miley Cyrus and Jay-Z, you can watch HIMYM, the super bowl and NCIS and be a Bill Maher and Richard Dawkins fan, you can be an actor/actress, rock star or model, you can go without a cowboy hat or shtreimel and with a square back and razor-shaved beard and use facebook and the internet on shabbos while singing zmiros by a plate of chicken soup, any sexual/gender orientation will be accepted as equal and hasidic rebbes will officiate gay marriages, you can go to a jacuzzi after your period or opt out of a mikva membership altogether, you can be a moser and sexual abuse is not tolerated, you can eat pork and cockroaches and drink wine that a schvartze defiled, you can marry shiksas and shkutzim and you can have mixed synagogues, female rabbis, elected-by majority clergy, a close-knit community and free coffee.

Who’s in?

I just wonder what the point of it is, it’s kind of like John Lennon’s Imagine for the OTD community that just can’t seem to let go of what they grew up with. In the west, no one who’s off the derech even identifies as such, they simply identify as Jewish. I love the OTD community, it’s fascinating because there are so many facets, the newbies are like tweens discovering music, movies, and the internet for the first time. The old timers are experts in science and philosophy, or like to appear as such. But it seems that there are some tendencies or almost rules as to how to go off the derech, you have to read Dawkins, you have to become uber left wing, and you have to harbor some sort of hatred for anything religious.

I wonder when the true liberal hippie attitude of live and let live will pervade the OTD community, when they will cease to try and do reverse kiruv on the people in the community they left behind and actually discover the world without hanging on to the old. I’m sure, I can’t really relate to someone who grew up with guilt and with such negative associations as many of them have. I went to coed camps, watched TV on shabbos, and was able to have girlfriends even though I was in a black hat yeshiva. My life was filled with joy, although I’m sure I could conjure up all of the mussar and focus on the negative. I’m hoping that someday, the OTD community is a community of folks who left, but didn’t look back. Judging by the post above, there are still some aspects like cholent and kishke of all things, that some folks want to hold onto.

I think the hardest thing to do is to leave and still allow those who haven’t left to continue on their own paths. I think ignorance when it comes to religion makes life a lot easier, Sometimes I wish I had never picked up any of the German Jewish philosophy that opened my mind to other Jewish realms beyond straight up Orthodoxy, but I did and here I am. I feel bad when people just go through a life of fear and guilt, but it’s almost easier than opening the mind to new possibilities.