Choosing Freedom Over a Strict Religious Life July 26, 2009

Choosing Freedom Over a Strict Religious Life

Sarah” is a 23-year-old atheist living in Jerusalem. That wouldn’t be newsworthy except for the following:

… there is no shortage of atheists in the world, but precious few of them were born into the family of a conservative rabbi and raised in what many would consider a stifling domain, the austere, God-fearing world of the haredim, as ultra-Orthodox Jews are known.

Sarah is a rarity in Israel. She is a “yotze,” the term used here for someone who has left the haredi world behind.

It’s extremely courageous for Sarah to come out as an atheist when you consider the strict world she’s leaving behind. She is refusing to have an arranged marriage at a young age, she is refusing to have a quiverfull of children, she is refusing to wear mandatory headgear, and she is refusing to obey any rabbi.

It’s a lot to say no to, and it’s admirable that she’s done what so many other women in her position might not be able to do.

While her family didn’t completely abandon her, they weren’t happy with her decision:

… her departure was a wrenching affair, and she went for several years without communicating with her parents.

“I just stopped talking to them,” she says. “It was easier for everybody.”

She has since gotten back in contact with them, and they’re working things out.

What a powerful story.

I really hope other girls in Sarah’s position get a chance to read this and see that, even though it may be rough, it is possible to leave the faith. You don’t need religion dictating your lifestyle. Having the freedom to do as you wish a beautiful thing.

(Thanks to Orson for the link!)

"Moderators, please do something about the anti-gay slurs bandied about here today."

Pope Francis Now Supports Civil Unions ..."
"Everyone who decides to respond to you. Is this really that hard a concept to ..."

Glenn Beck: “I’m Always Wrong with ..."
"This is an unconditional capitulation to religious fanatics who have shed any kind of civic ..."

Preacher Sean Feucht Will Hold a COVID-Spreading ..."

Browse Our Archives

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • The difficulty for women in the haredi community is similar to that faced by women in any stifling religious world: they are born and bred to be dependent upon the community at large, and the men in their lives especially. Many haredi women are virtually uneducated and thus cannot support themselves. They, like most haredi society in general, are so cloistered that they cannot function outside their narrow community.

    It takes more than courage for these women to do this. It takes a secular society that understands their challenges and will help them meet it if they so desire.

  • SarahH

    It takes more than courage for these women to do this. It takes a secular society that understands their challenges and will help them meet it if they so desire.

    Exactly what I came here to say. Or rather that the courage needed is linked to the outcomes possible. If you live somewhere where you’ll be killed or imprisoned for abandoning your religion, you might have courage, but if you also have sanity you won’t publicly abandon the religion. If you live somewhere where it’s difficult, but possible, to live freely if you leave your religion, then the courage can be exercised.