Elinor Carucci for The New York Times

I highly recommend the article in today’s NY Times Magazine about an organization called Footsteps.  Footsteps gives people leaving the Hasidic lifestyle some much-needed support.  Realizing they don’t believe in the extreme tenets of the most ultra- of the ultra-orthodox religion can cost them their families, their friends, and any social support they would have had for any other crisis.

The absolutist nature of the communities they are trying to leave behind means that not only much of what we consider normal activity is forbidden, even information about those activities is forbidden.  Reports are that access to the internet is now forbidden unless there is a business reason for it.  Television and movies have long been verboten among this crowd, as well as secular music.  Anything that might give a glimpse of the outside world, and how there might be other ways to live.

I personally came out two decades ago, and from a less-extreme version of this insanity.  I have been lucky in that my kids are also on a saner path now and we have a good relationship.  As for the rest of my family… well, my kids and I have a good relationship (winky-smile emoticon).  I was also lucky in that my need for a social support network is toward the low end of the spectrum, and I was able to find enough on my own.  It’s easy to see how difficult it could be for a lot of people.

I am glad that Footsteps exists.