Off the Derech: Why Observant Jews Leave Judaism--How to Respond to the Challenge

Faranak Margolese, Author
Faranak Margolese, Author Devora Publishing $14.95 (429p) ISBN 978-1-932687-43-9
Hardcover - 429 pages - 978-1-932687-40-8
Paperback - 430 pages - 978-1-4823-5659-5
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Baffled by her own experience as well as those of friends, Margolese explores the phenomenon of yeshiva-educated children from observant homes abandoning their tradition, or ""going off the derech path."" Interviews with formerly observant Jews, as well as rabbis, educators, therapists and program directors uncover the emotional and intellectual complexity behind the phenomenon. ""Most observant Jews seem to have left, not because the outside world pulled them in, but rather because the observant one pushed them out,"" she concludes. ""They experienced Judaism as a source of pain rather than joy."" Margolese, who returned to a religious lifestyle, views her findings as a wake-up call to reshape the observant world so it remains inspiring and inviting. Though some of her observations hardly break psychological ground-healthy parent- and teacher-child relationships ground self-esteem, for instance-they can have startling results when placed in the context of the religious world. She advocates focusing on meaning instead of on rules, and placing a child's emotional needs above his Torah observance. Though Jewish readers may be most interested in Margolese's subject, her conclusion will resonate with those of all faiths: ""God cannot be confined to the narrow path we walk... neither can his people.""
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