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Ultra-Orthodox Youth Who Leave That World

A number of years ago a study was published in Israel that claimed to have found little attrition from the ultra-Orthodox community, labeling the number of people who grew up ultra-Orthodox but no longer defined themselves as such to be statistically insignificant. Ynet has an article (Hebrew) that claims the number of ultra-Orthodox youth in Israel who leave that community to be around 1,000 a year and rising. While the numbers were presented by an organization that supports ultra-Orthodox youth who leave that community, the article claimed that they are based upon numbers from the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics and additional polls. Others place the number at 500 a year. During the past year the community of those who have left ultra-Orthodoxy has experienced a number of suicides, attracting more media attention than usual to the issues that these people, often youth, face. Hopefully those who are in need of support will be able to get it.

One Response to “Ultra-Orthodox Youth Who Leave That World”

  1. 1

    Undoubtedly there are many who leave ultra-orthodoxy. No society in the world exists without defectors. There is no way to count the numbers, though, and like all statistics not based on hard physical counts, they should be viewed with a healthy dose of skepticism. There may be 1000 and rising as one article claims [and how do they know if its rising or shrinking?] it may be 500, it may be more, it may be less. There is simply no way to know. Either way, though, it is still statistically insignificant. Even if you take the outlier maximal number of 1000, it is still less than 1%. And when you factor in the ballei teshuvah joining every year….

    That’s not to say each individual as a person is unimportant. I agree with you in hoping that those in need of support can get it. And I see nothing wrong with support groups for those who’ve decided to leave ultra-orthodoxy. Such people are 100% entitled to their opinion, and are no better or worse than anyone else. However, the media attention given to the suicides, I suspect but cannot prove, is a typically not too subtle way of the left attempting to discredit those on their right, as though ultra-orthodoxy is somehow responsible for the suicides. Of course, that’s asinine in the first degree. Ultra-orthodoxy is no more responsible for its unstable youths than general society is responsible for it’s. And whatever the number of people leaving ultra-orthodoxy, its just a trickle compared to the gushing torrents leaving secular society.

    [For the record, I wish to say I am not in the ultra-orthodox camp, and for the most part I view them as simply the mirror image of the Reform movement.]




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