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Heretic in the House: You’re So Brave

The following is a transcript of Episode 4 of the Heretic in the House Podcast. Note: This is a lightly edited transcript of a conversation, please excuse any errors.

Naomi: Back at the start of this show, I said I wasn’t going to tell you my personal story of leaving Orthodox Judaism. But believe me, I’ve told it plenty, I tell it to strangers, I tell it to every new friend. One time, after I told my story to a therapist, her response was, “I think you’re a really brave person.”

I had two reactions, more or less simultaneously. The first one was, I am brave, I am special. Not only that, I’m interesting—I bet I’m more interesting than the person who comes before me, and the person who comes in after me. I escaped from the Orthodox world. I did that! Goddamn right I’m brave! 

The second thought I had when she said that, pretty much in the same instant, was. . .  shit. I need a new therapist. 

Any OTD person can tell you that it’s a hard thing to leave the Orthodox world behind. We talk about that a lot, our little band of defectors, about what it takes to leave, and how hard it is to make a life for yourself afterward. OTD Naches, we call it, meaning OTD pride, the pride we genuinely feel, collectively feel, whenever one of us manages to graduate or find a good job or publish something or have a fabulous vacation in Hawaii or meet someone cool, whenever we manage not only to survive but even thrive. 

We also use it for your first lobster, but that’s a different story.

So then why does it make me feel squeamish to get complimented by someone outside this small circle? Why does it feel a little gross to be treated like a conquering hero by your new crowd?  

Freida: Once you do actually tell your story, what ends up happening is it’s heard differently. Instead of it being, listen, here’s a story if you want to hear it, you get pulled to a different place and suddenly people start to say, “You’re just like Deborah Feldman.” 

Naomi: Deborah Feldman is the author of the book Unorthodox, which inspired the Netflix show. OTD people talk about her for all kinds of reasons, but Frieda is getting at how our stories sometimes get mapped onto hers, because hers is the one people know. 

Are we not brave?

Freida: I think we’re brave. I do think we’re brave. But not in the way that people think. 

Naomi: I’m Naomi Seidman, and this is “Heretic in the House,” a podcast from the Shalom Hartman Institute, about the stories we tell about Orthodox Judaism and the people who leave it. This fourth and final episode: “You’re So Brave.” 

Naomi: Has anyone ever said “you’re so brave,” or something like that to you? 

I wanted to get to the root of my gut reaction. Why it feels wrong to be praised by secular people or by liberal Jews for having the gumption to leave my Orthodox roots? Why would I feel that I had to fire a therapist for saying it? That was what I asked my OTD friends, what I asked Pearl.

How you’re seen as like a, you know, the outside world thinks you’re like some great hero, which is also bullshit. 

Pearl: The outside world, hero.

Well you are. Well, not completely. 

Naomi: Okay. I wanna hear you.

Pearl: It may be helpful for you to see it that way, so you don’t have to live with what you’ve done, but it is heroic, what you’ve done. 

It is so brave at 15, to tell the person you love so much, that you are not gonna be able to live their lives the way that they want you to. You know how painful and difficult that is? And then there’s different bravery for everyone else’s story. 

To go off to college, which is completely unheard of, I had zero background in college. Whoever went to college in my world? It is brave. 

Naomi: Pearl’s right. We do live out stories of bravery. And that’s a big part of what outsiders find so interesting about us.

Zalman Newfield, if you remember, thought that taking that big step was the main thing our stories had going.

Zalman: Some of the most compelling plot lines are people who grew up in one environment and then went through some kind of radical change and consciously shaped their life in a new and different way than the way that they were raised. And I think that that speaks to a lot of people.  

Naomi: It speaks to people, but that doesn’t mean it’s true. A lot of the time it’s just a sign that someone isn’t really listening, getting only the part of the story they want to hear. 

Pearl: It’s brave. I don’t know why you want to deny that.

Naomi: So, I’m not denying it. The reason why “so brave,” you know, a therapist saying to me “Wow, you’re so brave. You left the Orthodox world.” 

Pearl: Now that’s just annoying. 

Naomi: There’s also something specifically upsetting about this compliment. And a big part of it is that it comes from, well, an outside spectator: 

Lauren: If you told me “Lauren, I feel like what you did was really brave there.” That would be fine with me, because you get it. I don’t have a problem with you telling me that sincerely. 

Naomi: I do get it. Our story speaks to people because it’s a simple story with an obvious hero. It’s brave to leave an oppressive community, to change your life that radically. They’re rooting for us because we did that, because we’re the heroes, we’re the good guys. 

But what I also get is what no OTD person has to say, because we all know it. Which is that the story about us being heroes also has villains, because how do you have a heroic tale without those villains?

Who are the villains in this story? If you need me to spell it out, it’s our parents, our former community, everyone who stood in our way, the whole reason we had to be brave. Let’s just say it: it’s Orthodox Judaism itself. 

People don’t generally actually say that part out loud. But a lot of times they’re thinking it. Remember Izzy Posen, whose family cut him off from his younger siblings back in episode 2?

Izzy: I’ve ended up in kind of disagreements with people where I’m arguing for why my parents are not bad people for kicking me out. And they’re like, don’t you see? They’re just like bad people. 

Naomi: His parents cut him off from his brothers and sisters and despite all his struggles leaving the Orthodox world, it’s Izzy who ends up having to defend his parents when he shares his story. 

Izzy: It’s just to say that actually the world is not black and white. You don’t want to sit there and say, I’m not gonna care about it. They should just be enlightened, they should just be more open-minded, therefore, well, I don’t care about their feelings. That’s not how humans work.

I think if you’re a mature, balanced person, you should say, how can I minimize the pain that I’m causing? How can I think, in a very human level, just acknowledge the fact that what I’m doing, while I have every right to do it, is causing pain to others. 

Naomi: That pain we cause others, that’s something a lot of OTD people carry. That’s what we don’t have to spell out to each other. That’s also exactly the thing that everyone else who hears our stories has such a hard time understanding.

They’re incapable, in other words, they’re thinking, yes, you abandoned your fundamentalist religious sect, and 

Pearl: Right, no, that’s not what happened….. it’s hard to hear “You’re so brave” when you think about how much torture you have caused in a world that some people you love live in.

Naomi: You know, a therapist who says that to me, that person doesn’t recognize that I broke my parents’ heart, for one thing. 

Izzy: Right. We have said there is a way of living, proudly, in a fulfilled way, in a self aware way, out of the community. That is a threat. I don’t think there’s any way of breaking that. 

Naomi: One big reason it’s so hard to leave is because you have to cause that pain. Bravery. Does the word cover that? That we were brave enough to do what we were doing even knowing the pain it would cause? Somehow, I think we need a new word to cover that kind of courage.

And maybe the talk of bravery is just a cover for a different kind of story, a story that isn’t unfamiliar to us, that we’re the bad guys, and those people we left behind, they’re the ones who paid a price for our escape, while we’re the ones soaking up the praise and fascinating the world with our memoirs. Or maybe we weren’t brave because we just weren’t, because what happened had nothing to do with bravery, or not with the kind of bravery they mean:  

Freida: The people who say we’re brave, don’t want to hear our flaws or the ways in which our bravery is wobbly-legged and unpoetic and, and, and ugly. You know, we’re not all brave. 

Naomi: One OTD friend of mine, she cut open the pushkes, the charity boxes, in her family house. Another person I know made off with a lot more money than that, he emptied a bank account he happened to have access to. Another one, well let’s just say he wasn’t particularly nice to his Chassidic wife. 

Even if leaving was the right choice, things can get pretty ugly on the way out the door. So part of the problem with “You’re so brave” is the way it just congratulates us, we courageous rebels and free spirits. It ignores the messiness of our stories, that we’re not always the heroes and they’re not always the villains. “You’re so brave” says that our valiant escape is the story, and not the trail of destruction we left on the way out. 

 Maybe “you’re so brave” also feels wrong because we know how dangerous it is to call any Jews the bad Jews. Those people and communities we left behind, they’re the visible Jews, with the black hats. They’re the targets of a lot of stereotypes about the Orthodox world, and worse. They’re the ones who get beaten up on the subway or stabbed in Monsey by some antisemite, because they’re the ones who are wearing a yarmulke, and we’re the ones who read about those attacks in the paper. 

That story about how brave we are? That sometimes feels like us piling on, piling on to a community that we ourselves once belonged to, full of people we know and care about, even if we hurt them, even if we continue to hurt them. I take no pleasure in the pain I caused, the shame I brought on my family. Maybe there are OTD people who do, but if there are I haven’t met them. 

And because the people who are praising us live in the world we chose to escape to, there’s something just a little self-serving about how their compliment to us, that we’re so brave, is also a compliment to them, their world, their choices, their values, that we were brave enough to choose. 

So “you’re so brave” sounds wrong because it’s a story with explicit heroes and implicit villains. But Lauren had another take on why it doesn’t feel fabulous to be told you’re brave. 

Lauren: I think the “you’re so brave” thing feels like a value judgment that’s very similar to me to the “you’re so selfish.”

Naomi: For the Orthodox community, we’re just selfish, for putting ourselves and our petty desires over family and Torah and Yiddishkeit. But brave and selfish are just two sides of the same coin: heads, we escaped from the clutches of a bunch of cultists with too many rules; tails, we fell victim to the religion of freedom and choice. Either way that coin flips, we become one person’s hero, and another’s bad example. 

Lauren, she doesn’t want to flip that coin, play that game. She’s thought about all this enough to know that bravery and leaving aren’t always the same thing.  

Lauren: When Unorthodox was the number one show on Netflix, right, the Deborah Feldman story, somebody at work came over to me, and I can’t even tell you the number of conversations I had that were like this, but this one really got me. She said, oh, if I grew up like that, I definitely would’ve left. Like, of course I would. 

I said, well, less than 10% of Hasidic women leave their communities. So statistically speaking, you wouldn’t have, and she just looked at me with this expression, like how could I think such a thing of her. And I’m like, it’s not obvious that you would. The story makes people believe that they are the one who leave, and I actually did leave, and I find that annoying.

Naomi: Those Orthodox Jews? That might have been us. That almost was us, at one point we were in that group. So don’t diss my family to my face. Don’t tell us we’re so special because we managed to leave.  

Lauren: It feels like their exoticising the experience. “Wow. You’re so amazing. I could never have done that.” Like, okay. You, you, you’re saying that you would rather have had the, like staying inside experience, cause there are people that do that and that’s also brave. 

Naomi: When you say that it’s brave to leave, you’re implying that it would be cowardly to stay. But Lauren knows better than that. Everyone in the OTD community knows people who stayed in the frum world but who meet with us under pseudonyms in the Facebook groups. These people are still on the inside, heretics who stayed. 

Yitzchok: There are a number of Chassidim who wear streimelich, bekeshes, even white socks, and that are mekhalel Shabbos.

Naomi: They think like us OTDers, but they stay because of their kids or their parents or because of the Holocaust or for whatever reason. So they keep their doubts to themselves, they stay in the neighborhood, they stay in the closet. That’s what they call themselves: In the closet, off the derech. 

Is the difference between me and them that I’m brave and they’re not? I don’t think so.  

Lauren: People do give up a lot to stay inside. That can be brave too. I was on the inside once too. Most of the people I knew were on the inside. I want their stories also. 

Naomi: Hidden heretics. We OTD people get the praise, but those people still trying to make a life for themselves on the inside, we were like them, too, at least for a while. And who are we to judge which is the braver decision, if decision is even the right word for it? 

So maybe that’s why the “you’re so brave” line makes me uncomfortable when I hear it from anyone who is not OTD. It says that the people who leave are heroes, which we’re not, and Orthodoxy is the villain, which it isn’t. By saying that leaving is heroic it implies that staying is cowardly, and neither of those things needs to be true. It turns us into actors in a morality play that we didn’t write. 

But let’s be real: the bravery narrative appeals to us, too. One reason is that it helps us make sense of a life journey that otherwise is so hard to grasp. 

Something we like to do on OTD Facebook groups is post before and after photos of ourselves. Before, we’re in some long-sleeved white wedding gown; after, it’s us with all our tattoos, riding a motorcycle. There’s a kind of friendly competition over who traveled the furthest, who made the most radical transformation. The idea is that our lives are contained in the long arc between those photographs, but the photos themselves can’t explain what happened or how; they’re just snapshots, they’re not a story. 

Were we always predestined to leave? Was that what all that angst and arguing with our parents added up to? Or maybe it wasn’t predestined at all; maybe we could have stayed, if only a few things were a little bit different. Really? Were you always going to go off the derech? How about that year you were a religious fanatic? Or was there another path that might have led somewhere different? What if you had met the right boy on a shidduch date? Between those two photographs, maybe it’s just a story of a few accidents that don’t really add up to anything at all. When did we first see the light? 

Zalman: All of my research militates against this idea. For a lot of OTD people, you know, their first moment, they don’t even know what that was, you know, like things happened in their life. And only after the fact that they come to realize, oh yeah, I guess that was an important thing.

These kinds of narratives are constructs. They’re things that people come up with, that actual lived life is just much more messy than that.

Naomi: Sometimes that OTD story only starts to add up to a story in retrospect, when you start writing that memoir and figure out what the opening scene should be, the one that demonstrates that you never bought what they were feeding you, that you were always different from the others. 

The retrospective stories, the OTD memoirs, they can snip away the ragged edges, the edges that aren’t so clear, the actions that aren’t so brave. And because these memories are about who you were then and your sense of who you are now don’t really match, you have to figure out which you you can trust to tell that story. How reliable is that OTD self in talking about what it meant to be an Orthodox girl or boy? 

This gets to my final problem with the “you’re so brave” story. The compliment “you’re so brave” assumes that we made a decision, that at a crucial point we courageously took our fate into our own hands, we marshaled our courage and made our way to the exit. 

How do you make a decision when you don’t have the information you need to decide, when you can’t see what lies on the other side? Can it be called a decision when someone was breathing down our necks so we couldn’t think straight? Was it a decision when it seems like we had no choice at all? 

If we’re honest about how all that played itself out, for lots of us, that’s not how it happened. The closer you look the murkier it gets. 

Elad: Do you mind if I’m without my camera on, just cause I’m in my closet.  

Naomi: Elad Nehorai is a good example of how hard it is to figure out where and when the decision actually happened.  

Haha! Oh my God! I love my closet, so it’s great that you’re in a closet. I’m jealous. I wish I was in a closet. 

You might recognize his name. 

Elad: So, I’m Elad Nehorai. 

Naomi: Elad’s a writer and activist with a big online following. 

Elad: I write regularly for a number of publications. 

Naomi: These days, Elad puts out a lot of think pieces about political extremist groups in America and Israel.

Elad: Or things like antisemitism or the rise of fascism. 

Naomi: But he also writes a lot about himself. Elad’s story is different from the ones I’ve been talking about, because he grew up secular. 

Elad: With Israeli parents, near Chicago. When I was in college I became interested in Chassidic worlds. That took me into a journey of becoming a ba’al teshuvah, someone who became Orthodox later in life, and became eventually Chassidic and Chabad.

I went to study in Yeshiva in Israel. I moved to Crown Heights, Brooklyn, you know, the kind of center of Chabad activity. Became a writer and suporter of the community. 

Naomi: And then left it sometime during the pandemic. 

Elad: That’s the very, very short version, of that.

Naomi: If anyone wants to tell Elad he’s so brave, go right ahead. But for him, what you’d have to mean is that he’s a brave soul for everything he did while he was Chassidic. He’s one of those people Lauren might have had in mind when she talked about the ones who were brave enough to stay, to try to make a frum life work for themselves. 

You see, he and his wife had this crazy idea, 

Elad: We started to build a creative community in Brooklyn. 

Naomi: Which is that they could be fully who they were, and also Hasidic Jews. 

Elad: Out-of-the-box thinkers in the Orthodox and Chassidic world. 

Naomi: That they could be progressive, and artists, and support LGBTQ rights, and for Elad, he could talk openly about his mental health. He could provide a platform for other people in the community to be all that, too, 

Elad: And so we built up this online community of writers through a publication.  

Naomi: To fly their freak flags inside the Hasidic world, because really, what could be freakier, what could be more countercultural than Hasidism? 

Elad: Once we built up kind of like, a small enough critical mass, we started doing events in our home.

Naomi: Kind like a new version of what Hasidim call a farbrengen. 

Elad: Kind of like a classic farbrengen, where people would get around and talk about spirituality, and drink, and get kind of ectastic, that kind of stuff, combined with, an open mic. Reading farbrengens. 

So we’d kind of like have people rather than coming with like, you know, like a dvar Torah, they would come with like poetry or music or, or even like a, like a one-person play or whatever happens to be. And they would share it there. It was almost by definition because we were thinking outside the box, that meant that we were facing issues that other people weren’t facing. 

Naomi: Maybe it was inevitable that all those open mics, all that creative, critical thinking would expose some of the darker side of the world he lived in. 

Elad: I started to become vocal about issues that I was hearing about through my writing and through my connections with others, whether it was abuse, or issues with the queer community. I was like kind of one of the early folks who was trying to get mental illness, mental health, talked about more, and I remember being so blown away when it was. And really feeling like, wow.   

Naomi: You can probably tell that this was a bit of a high-wire act, but Elad just kept at it anyway.

Elad: The thing was, the way I was writing about it, all of this led to me becoming Orthodox and Chabd. 

Naomi: Until one day he started to notice that the very foundations of his identity, as a spiritual seeker and artist and activist and boundary pusher, those foundations were incompatible with the community he had chosen to join. 

Elad: Charedi ideology and culture and belief systems, every single, like, positive development, like the mental health awareness, is always gonna have to be part of that construct. 

Naomi: The community he had once thought of as warm and loving and enveloping—it stopped feeling that way. 

Elad: I remember when I wrote an article, it was about why queer people deserve to not only get married, but to have sex as Orthodox Jews. Basically the argument was that we, the science, like the Halakah needs to catch up with the science essentially. So I was arguing as an Orthodox Jew.

I remember there was like a massive earthquake in our little community. Two writers left, donors left, friends stopped talking to me. That was like a big moment when I started to understand, oh, there, there might not, like even if I want there to be a place, there might not be a place for me here.

Naomi: Without really intending it, almost without noticing, he had gone from being a provocative insider to being just another outsider.  

So what does it mean to praise Elad for being brave? What was brave? Being a Hasidic rebel? Or giving up on that fantasy? 

Elad: I ended up questioning a lot of the world I chose to enter.

Naomi: And did he really choose to leave? By the time Elad realized it was time to go, he had already been pushed out, but even those friends and donors who pushed him out probably didn’t realize that they were making it impossible for him to stay. 

Elad: I had spent my whole life kind of looking for a palace that was a spiritual community and that was interested in people who were interested in deep questions, you know, that kind of thing. And I find it there, and I felt an intense amount of unconditional love. Once you’ve left, especially if you are vocal, there’s not gonna be, that love is gone, like that’s never gonna come back.

Naomi: If you try to figure out who was stage-managing that particular OTD drama, I think you won’t find that anyone was in control of the process. Maybe that’s why what he felt when it was all finally over, when he looked up and noticed that he was well and truly gone from the Lubavitch community, what he felt wasn’t pride in having made his escape but something a lot harder to describe.

Elad: I was extremely disoriented. You know, I had no idea who I was. For however many years, 10 years, I had completely wrapped myself in this identity. And suddenly I had completely left it behind. Even when I was a rebel and fighting and an activist, like I, I still maintained that identity. I suddenly felt like I lost everything.  

On the one hand, I think, oh, should I have not left? On the other hand, I think, oh, maybe I should have left earlier because I was trying so hard to convince with people, that you can still hold you know, these beliefs and still be progressive, and still, you know.

I was trying to be an example to people and I was, along the way, in incredible pain. It was like self-abuse, in many ways. 

Naomi: Oh my god, well, Elad, if you were, if there had been more acceptance of you, I think that might have been a kind of Orthodoxy I might have cared to stay in. 

I don’t really feel that way now, but I did when I was talking to Elad. He told me that a lot of OTD people have said something like that to him, that they might have stayed if he was the one with the loudest voice, instead of the one that got edged out.

People like Elad, who joined the community as adults, are sometimes made to feel like second-class citizens in the frum world. So now these same people, once they leave, have to fight to feel part of the OTD people. Maybe we haven’t traveled as far out from our frum communities as we imagine.

Zalman: I think if everybody takes a step back and realixes that sometimes they’re intolerant, on both, we’ll see both sides of the equation. People just want to have things confirmed. Their way of life, their mode of thinking, to have it confirmed. It’s unfortunate, truly. 

Naomi: What do you want?

Zalman: What do I want? A bowl of ice cream. Preferably chocolate fudge, but you do need a little offset of vanilla, not because you like vanilla.

Naomi: I don’t like chocolate, I know, I’m a weirdo. 

Zalman: I don’t know if we can continue this conversation. 

Lauren: I had a therapist at Footsteps, once, I was, this was, this was like right when I was leaving, I was like an open wound, you know, who said to me, “It seems to me that you’re very resilient.” And it was just a comment. And I was like “I am resilient!” And it was the perfect thing to say to me, because it wasn’t brave, it wasn’t about how special I was, and how amazing I was, right, how terrible my family was, because they’re not terrible, that’s the thing. I don’t want my family to be demonized, because I know the truth about them, and they’re not terrible. They’re doing the best that they can. 

Instead of “you’re selfish” or “you’re brave,” which are the, like, sort of opposite sides of each other, right, you’re terrible or you’re amazing, rather, “You can come back from this. I’m watching you do it right now.” That felt like exactly what I needed to hear at that moment.

Naomi: I was writing this podcast as it was being released. Most of my writing is academic, and responses are slow if they come at all. This was different. I heard from people I haven’t spoken to in twenty years, and others I’ve never met. One frum friend was a little shocked at what she felt was the way I was talking about secular people who were interested in the OTD story, as if this curiosity was an assault, as if it didn’t have redeeming human qualities, as I didn’t share that curiosity myself. This was a frum person, defending the people I didn’t even notice I was using as foils, people I live among and now share my life with. I admit that I imagined all kinds of responses from frum people, but I didn’t see that one coming.  

There were other things that happened. I had a moment, talking to Elad, where I imagined that I might have been able to live out a frum life myself, if only there were more people like him in that world, people who believed that being Chassidic and being an artist, a freethinker, a progressive, was possible. 

And Elad’s story, the story of what it feels like to become Chasidic and then go OTD, that made me see how much my own fantasy of an OTD world, a reconstituted community of holy heretics, had its own mechanisms of exclusion. 

And in every episode, my big idea of the OTD story got challenged, not because I was cleverly setting up some kind of narrative tension, but because people stubbornly refused to say what I wanted them to say. And that’s how it was that the story I was telling kept changing. 

The past is always changing, that’s something every OTD person knows. This thing you did, this thing that happened to you, this thing that you are, is never fixed in any one time, any one event, any one person. And the main way it changes is by bumping up against another story, that makes you see how the story you hold so dear, that perspective you think is so funny, or so smart, just hasn’t imagined what that funny line sounds like to someone else. It’s not just a story about us and the community we left behind. Try making a podcast and see how fast a story you thought you knew inside out can change into something you barely recognize.

Maybe that’s one place this little story, so specific to such a small band of people, extends out far past us. One way it extends out, for sure, is to that raggedy small band of people called Jews, who have their own fascinating stories, who have attracted all kinds of other spectators wanting in on those stories, seeing themselves in those stories, honing in just how special and chosen that story is. 

But that band we call Jews, too, well, we’re not quite the tight little happy family we sometimes imagine we are. There are all kinds of rough edges there, too, ways that being on the inside means someone else is on the outside, zones of opacity where we say things behind each other’s backs, phantom conversations we have with people who have something we imagine we need, something we lost that they might still have.

The thing that I am, it’s not just about me. People might think they’re interested in the OTD story because they think we’re brave, or they like that we joined their team. But maybe what the OTD story is really about is how we all live in a kind of knot of stories, all trying to be heard over the noise, all competing for the top spot, about who’s right and who’s loving and who’s vengeful and who hurt who. Maybe that’s the way it always goes, and the OTD story is just a particularly tangled knot. 

I said at the outset that I didn’t want to lay out my story in its gory details. And one reason for that is that those gory details might be mine, but if I didn’t know it when I started this podcast I certainly know it now. They’re not just mine, not even just my family’s, or my OTD friends, or the people who read those books, or anyone who’s listened to this podcast. 

This story I’ve been guarding so closely, as if it was my most precious and personal possession, it’s going to take a lot more people telling their own stories for me to understand it, if any of us are going to have a chance of figuring it out. 

Okay, I’ll start. Okay. Heretic in the House is a production of the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America. It was written by me, Naomi Seidman. 

This series was produced by M. Louis Gordon, with editing assistance from Alex Dillon. It was recorded by Lucien Lozon at MCS Studios Toronto, with theme music by Luke Allen, and mixing by Cory Choy at Silver Sound NYC. Our senior producer is David Zvi Kalman. 

Elad Nehorai is a political commentator for outlets like The Forward, The Daily Beast, Haaretz, and Times of Israel. 

Jericho Vincent, who wrote the essay about the “post-ultra-orthodox death prophecy”, is also the author of a powerful memoir called: Cut Me Loose: Sin and Salvation after my Ultra-Orthodox Girlhood

If you want to learn more about OTD people in the closet, Ayala Fader has a fascinating and brilliant book: Hidden Heretics: Religious Doubt in the Digital Age. 

And check out Pearl Gluck’s documentary, Divan, about her Hungarian Hasidic roots. I cry every time I see it. 

If you want to brush up on your science knowledge, Izzy Posen is teaching physics on Youtube. In Yiddish. 

And if you prefer some more sociological learning, Zalman Newfield’s book is a fantastic read. Once again, it’s called: “Degrees of Separation: Identity Formation While Leaving Ultra-Orthodox Judaism.” That one’s in English.

If you happen to be in Brooklyn on a Thursday night, swing by Yitchok Shoenfeld’s roving party: Cholent. Say hi to everyone from me. 

And while you’re in the area, Freida Vizel leads an amazing tour of Hasidic Williamsburg that I highly recommend. She also has some wonderful videos on Youtube that take you right into the heart of that community. 

We’ll have links to all of these things and more in the shownotes. 

Last but not least, Lauren Stoss is the heart and soul of the OTD Facebook world.

I’m Naomi Seidman, thanks for listening.

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The End of Policy Substance in Israel Politics