Desire to go off the derech?

I’ve received several emails from people who feel strongly about their desire to leave the derech, yet they feel alone and scared and are plain uncertain where to start.

I wish I had a ‘magical’ answer for you all.  Every person’s situation is vastly different and the circumstances surrounding their decision to leave will be met differently.  There will be great challenges to overcome and a great amount of anxiety and fear will be present.  There’s no easy way out, as far as I know (correct me if I’m wrong!).  If the desire is strong, and you are done with whining and complaining about your situation, then all you have left is action.  DO SOMETHING about it.

As to where to start, I can only direct you to the Footsteps Organization.  This did not exist when I wanted to leave.  It was founded in 2003 and is a foundation that offers social and emotional support, as well as guidance you might require in the educational and career areas.  This is taken directly from their website :

Footsteps provides educational, vocational and social support to those seeking to enter or explore the world beyond the insular ultra-religious communities in which they were raised. People from the ultra-orthodox and Chasidic communities who choose to enter mainstream America currently do so as new immigrants in every sense. They face cultural disorientation and isolation coupled with a lack of practical and marketable skills. Founded in December 2003, Footsteps aims to assist individuals who choose to make this difficult transition.

It is a place that does maintain confidentiality and has staff that would be able to assist you in the transition you desire.  I have zero connection with this organization, so I cannot speak from experience.  I do wish there was something like this back when I needed it, but I am very glad to see that something like this exists today.

Good luck to those of you that are brave enough to take the leap!