Just over a two years ago, Shalom and Micha decided to use their formerly religious mischief to battle the evil they saw perpetuated at the multiple missionary institutions in Jerusalem. Sharing a few victory beers after their first escapade, walking into an Aish Discovery seminar hijacking the discussion with their “proofs” and “logic” with armed guards escorting them out, they wondered if this could be the business opportunity they were looking for. Off The Derech Israel Tours was founded and since then, thousands of formerly religious Jews from around the world have discovered a new Israel, the one that wasn’t shown to them on Birthright or during their “year” in Israel.
At first Shalom and Micha played it safe, taking formerly religious Jews on treife tours, eating ham sandwiches on the steps of the kotel and showing up to do battle with the Charedim whenever they felt like starting a riot, but then they expanded the offerings. Eating treife at the kotel is great, but they wanted more, they wanted formerly religious Jews to experience Israel in new ways. Sure, this included clubbing in Tel Aviv and visiting underground Charedi run brothels in Mea Shearim, but it also included Bible Criticism at Hebrew University and sessions with formerly religious people from other faiths who have also endured similar issues along the way.
Luckily for tour operators there’s always something interesting happening in Israel, Rosh Chodesh brings women of the wall protests, gay pride parades, protests against desecration of shabbos, and side visits to battle ground places like Beit Shemesh, and Chevron. They truly have something to offer everyone who feels like they have to remind themselves why they left the derech in the first place.
Shalom and Micha have started to work with an insider at some of the largest Kiruv Yeshivos in Israel and he has secured 10 day slots for folks who want to “study” and do their own kiruv at places like Ohr Someyach, Machon Shlomo, Mayanot, and Niveh. Apparently, there are thousands of people around the world who would pay for a chance to go back to yeshiva and do their own brand of infiltration kiruv. Gotlieb and Tatz better watch out.
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