Like Esty in Unorthodox, I left my Chasidic community. This is what the show doesn’t tell you

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(the photo does not relate to the article)


Feeding the poor and needy is an act that draws us closer to Allah. We earn His forgiveness, mercies and blessings through this act of charity.

“Anyone who looks after and works for a widow and a poor person is like a warrior fighting for Allah?s cause, or like a person who fasts during the day and prays all night. (Bukhari)

In my twenties, I was one of an extended group of ex-Chasidic friends living in Los Angeles. Everyone had their own story, their own way of blending their Chasidic past with the drama of a twenty-something life in a sprawling metropolis, dealing w( ith jobs, partners, and weekend road trips.


One Friday night, after Shabbat dinner at a friend’s house, everyone else had gone, leaving just me and Mosh, a friend I often playfully sparred with over Jewish thought. We sat on the lamplit couch in the living room trading the successes of our previous lives. Turns out we had both been top students, both delighted and frustrated our teachers with mischievous questions. We had even both won the same national competition — me for the girls, him for the boys.

We were boasting that night, but I knew what we were trying to communicate to each other: that we had ended up on that couch in Los Angeles, far from the lives we were meant to live, not because we had been traumatized or miserable, but through a series of choices that were messy, often selfish, maybe brave, sometimes lucky.


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