Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Footsteps: An Organization To Help Ex-Hasidic Jews

I was watching the Nat Geo channel and saw a show called Inside: Hasidism. It was an hour long show that focused on the lives of several Hasidic -- as well as ex-Hasidic -- Jews . Although I think the producers of the show gave the misogynistic, repressive cult too much positive press, I did pick up on an interesting piece of information. There is an organization called Footsteps  based in New York City that supplies support and services for those Hasidic Jews who have chosen to leave their community.

Here is Footsteps' mission statement:
Footsteps provides educational, vocational and social support to those seeking to enter or explore the world beyond the insular ultra-religious communities in which they were raised. People from the ultra-orthodox and Chasidic communities who choose to enter mainstream America currently do so as new immigrants in every sense. They face cultural disorientation and isolation coupled with a lack of practical and marketable skills. Founded in December 2003, Footsteps aims to assist individuals who choose to make this difficult transition.
Not only do these ex-Hasidic Jews typically lose all their family members when leaving the cult (and yes, I do consider all religions to be cults), but the average education level for a person who just left the Hasidic community is 5th grade.

Think about it.

No family to support you, and you possess a 5th grade education. 

Here is a quote from the Footsteps' page The Challenge - Why is Footsteps necessary?
There is one particular gole that I want to achive. That gole, is getting a hier education. By a hier education, I mene going to college or university for sevrel years and excelling in the particular subjects that I think I'm good at" (Benny, 19)."
When I read Benny's statement all the work I've done in promoting godlessness and attacking the absurdities of faith are made worthwhile. Benny is a victim of a deluded group of bearded old men whose only goal is to be slaves of a sociopathic fictional character. At the end of the day I can feel a little easier to have spoken out against such tragedy.

Atheists need programs like this to shepherd young adults trapped in Christian and Islamic communities... 

because this is Purgatory.


  1. My wife's college friend started Footsteps, and we make yearly donations to them.

    1. That's pretty cool. Is Footsteps some widely known thing that I'm just learning about now?

  2. Definitely a great org. I think there's a similar one in Israel called Hillel. See comment thread here.

    I sometimes hear comparisons between Jews who shift from non observant to observant and vice versa. One of the things that makes this comparison unfair is the freedom and resources available/ made accessible to those who are secular and are seeking to increase their religiosity: educational - via religious outreach, emotional via programs like religious families that host non-religious ones for shabbat etc. On the flipside, for those seeking to leave religion, there are few "welcome wagons" that help the formerly secluded Ultra Orthodox integrate into mainstream society. So, rare organizations like Hillel and Footsteps are SO important IMO. Yes, I know I'm preaching to the choir, here, but glad you posted on this, Andy.

    1. That's interesting, I remember the post from Atheist Rabbi, but not the mention of Hillel or Footsteps. Thanks.

  3. Two very good novels that deal with the love-hate relationship that many Hssidim and Orthodox Jews experience in dealing with the real world are "The Chosen" and its sequel "The Promise", by Chaim Potok.

  4. The footsteps organization is run by people who do not understand the Jewish religion. They seek to take advantage of unfourtunate individuals who have gone through difficult times and by drawing them away from their religion uses them as pawns to promote their agenda.
    If someone needs help he should see a professional from the community that he is from and not get mixed with this organization


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