When Mimi and I started this blog, we wondered if anyone would read it. I remember contacting her several weeks ago and asking her, “I know it’s been years since we left Crown Heights and frumkeit behind, but do you still hurt from it? Do you still feel frustrated, confused, betrayed, even angered about it?” Mimi told me that no matter what other wonderful successes have happened in her life, she, like me, is still haunted by our time as frum Jews, and the way we were treated. We experience a wide spectrum of emotions running thr gamut from being upset with ourselves for being taken for a ride to pride in the freedom we’ve attained to confusion about how to experience Judaism in a meaningful way. Since we both love to write, we decided that keeping a blog would be a healing way to express the countless emotions that come along with being “formerly frum.” We felt that if even one person read it and got something out of it, it would be amazing. We also hoped to make new friends and form a circle of support as we continue our journey back into the world, and back to emotional health and well-being.
Weeks later, we owe you all a debt of gratitude. Thank you, readers, for the gift that you have been to us. Your comments, site visits, Facebook fan-ings (there must be a word for that…:)) and friendship have shown us that we are not alone. Mimi and I never realized just how many formerly frum men and women there are out there! Over the past few weeks, many of you have graciously and lovingly allowed us into your lives and shared your own stories with us. We are beyond grateful for those precious gifts.
Last night, I went out for coffee with a religious friend of mine. She shared a lot of her own doubts and questions with me…so many of which I remember having at the very beginning of my formerlyfrum journey two years ago. I listened patiently and did my best not to try and sway her – I think it’s vitally important to allow people time to process their own thoughts (something I was not afforded at our illustrious yeshiva). Still, it was heart-wrenching to see a friend going through the same torrent of emotions I did without much support. The necessity of that support system during the process of “frei-ing out” is precisely why OTDers are banding together on blogs and in online communities. Going off the frum derech is a tremendous challenge, and it can’t be done alone.
As we begin a new year, look for exciting new changes here at FormerlyFrum. We’ll be expanding to a full website with many exciting features and events. Special thanks to our friend Undercover Kofer for his help and creative vision as we grow toward our goal of reaching out with love, compassion and support to those leaving (or questioning) Orthodox Judaism.
“Leah,” my friend told me as we sipped our lattes (she still calls me by my Hebrew name), “I admire you. You are so, so brave to be doing what you’re doing. It sounds amazing. Hard, but amazing.” To each of you – what you are doing is truly amazing. As we all know, going from frum to formerly frum is no easy task. It takes resolve, bravery, and yes,chutzpah. It’s a feat, but not an insurmountable one – if we face the challenge together.
I am going to take the liberty of starting a new tradition – the FormerlyFrum New Year’s Resolution thread. In 2010, I am going to try and rise above the damage done to my self-esteem by my years in Chabad. I will strive to see myself in a new light – as someone whose views and goals are as important as others’ are, and who is worthy of respect and love. What is your FormerlyFrum resolution for 2010? How can you make this your best year yet?
With love and hope for a truly amazing 2010,