Access to Rational Thinking Helped This Former Skverer Hasidic Jew Shed His Faith… But It Cost Him Dearly May 13, 2015

Access to Rational Thinking Helped This Former Skverer Hasidic Jew Shed His Faith… But It Cost Him Dearly

Shulem Deen used to be a Skverer Hasid — an extremely conservative Hasidic Jewish sect.

Used to be.

His new memoir All Who Go Do Not Return is all about how he left that world once he began acquiring some of that sweet secular knowledge:

“Losing your faith is not like realizing that you got an arithmetic problem wrong,” Deen says. “It is more like discovering your entire mathematical system is flawed, that every calculation you’ve ever made was incorrect … except you seem to be the only one who realizes it, and how is that possible?” he says.

“My inner turmoil left me dizzy with grief over my lost faith. I wanted it back.”

But it wouldn’t return. “[Fellow Skverer] Chezky [Blum] had tempted me with the rational, and I had succumbed to its allure.”

The friendship with Blum begins in 1996, when Deen is 22, and “by 2002, “I no longer thought myself a believer,” Deen says. He is leading almost a double life, but it can’t last. At age 30 — married 12 years — he is expelled from the community, a rejection and disgrace with which the book begins.

Yikes. It’s a story that could apply to a lot of atheists from fundamentalist backgrounds.

Deen now manages a website called Unpious, “a platform for voices and views generally suppressed within Hasidic and ultra-Orthodox publications.” You should check out the book if you can, but make sure you go through some of those essays on the website. So many fascinating and heartbreaking stories.

(Thanks to Brian for the link)


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