June 6, 2019
On Friday, May 31, about 100 TTN members gathered in the Jericho Library to learn about Footsteps, an organization that aids Hasidic Jews transition from their insular community to a more secular life. To demonstrate the "cult-like" life of the Hasidic community, we watched a Netflix documentary entitled "One of Us.” Chavie Weisberger, Footsteps Director of Community Outreach, spoke to our audience describing her personal journey. She talked about the emotional, spiritual, and financial ordeal that she experienced in breaking away from the cloistered Hasidic community to lead a life in which she could be her "true self." Her experience mirrored the experience of Etty, the woman portrayed in "One of Us." We learned how you can lose your children, your biological family, and an entire community once you decide to lead a more secular life. Living in an ultra-orthodox Hasidic world separates you from the larger world, forbidding computers, television, movies, and secular books, while constantly surrounding you with members of the community who monitor your actions. Chavie’s talk was followed by a very interactive Q and A with the audience. Many of us were moved to tears after listening to Chavie's story and the story of those portrayed in the documentary, as they risked everything to make their transition to the secular world.