My name is Shaul. I grew up in Bnei Brak in the Haredi Lithuanian community. My father is a rabbi at a yeshiva (a college for religious studies) and my mother is a teacher at the prestigious Wolf Seminary. Four of my sisters married graduates from the elite yeshivot. In short, my family belongs to the hardcore, ultra-Orthodox community. Even my grandparents – on both sides – are important people in the community.
I completely disconnected from that society two years ago. When I left my community, I suddenly realized that I had never fit in or truly felt a part of their society. During the past two years, I went through a long and complex process.
At first, I did not wear a kippah (traditional head covering for men) and cautiously felt secular. Then I settled in a bit and today, my outlook is more religious; I am a hybrid of ultra-Orthodoxy and modern Orthodoxy with some part Yotzim mixed in.
I am not secular, but I changed and, unfortunately, my family and friends disconnected. Recently, however, my family and I renewed our relationship.
It is important to me to emphasize that I have never been better. The truth is that I didn‘t know such good existed in the world. And that is because, for the first time in my life, I thought about what I wanted to do and chose my own path. This independence is amazing, a real blessing and so needed!
I appreciate everyone who has gone through or is going through a similar process of choosing or seeking a different path, despite having been taught that there is only one way. I dare say, paths are abundant.
Along the way, I got to know Out for Change, which has supported and accompanied me on every step of my journey with employment advice, private English lessons, workshops, and wonderful friends. Sometimes, all I need is someone to listen, and Out for Change gives me that too.