The child who is strong enough to run away is actually the one who is healthy.
They recognize that Jewish fundamentalism is a killer of the mind. Of the soul.
It's fine to have principles. But it is not fine to redefine a very worldly faith as a bastion of right-wing, nit-picky, obsessive-compulsive mental mind games.
It is not fine to to try and control every aspect of a person's life.
Whenever that kind of repression happens, the issue is insecurity on the part of the cult that members will leave what is basically a weak system.
Judaism has survived for many years. It is not weak at all. Real expressions of the faith don't make you feel ashamed or threatened.
Fundamentalists try to steal the soul of every person they come into contact with, quite literally.
They say, "either you fall into line or we will throw you out of the community."
Gone is the happiness, the community, the celebration, the diversity. As problems and abuse are swept under the rug.
What is tragic about fundamentalist Judaism is the fact that it is ever defined as Judaism at all!
There are 613 mitzvos in the Torah, not a million commandments. And it is impossible to keep them all - let's be honest. Nobody even knows for sure what the boundaries are.
Since we are flawed human beings by nature and not angels, it is not our place to judge. Even our forefathers and foremothers, spiritual giants, were clearly shown in the Torah to be far from perfect people.
If you are a turned-off Jew who grew up in a repressive religious environment, please read this and know you're not alone. And that by leaving the religion behind, you're giving it all to fundamentalists.
I am reaching out to tell you what a beloved family member told me: "It is YOUR faith, your heritage, your birthright. NOBODY has the right to take it away."
Yes, it's true: Some wrong-headed ignoramus or a bunch of bullies messed with you, they did what they shouldn't, maybe once or maybe for many years.
Take the time you need to take care of yourself. But then I hope you get back in the ring and fight.
Every Jew deserves a place in the community.
Photo by Chris Ford via Flicker Creative Commons. All opinions are my own and do not reflect those of my agency or the federal government as a whole.