Despite all of this, this week I launched a new project entitled “Frum and Stuck” (www.frumandstuck.com) together with a my friend, Rabbi Ysoscher Katz.
The need for this project became apparent about a year ago when someone very close to me came to the realization that as a result of all their doubts and struggles with matters of faith, they could no longer continue as a Frum (Orthodox) Jew. This decision resulted in him leaving his community, his wife and his children. The heartbreak and destruction that resulted from that decision is still lingering.
It occurred to me that for someone within the Orthodox community who concludes that they can no longer live in accordance with the dogmas and practices of their native community, there are few resources to help them. To be sure there is an organization that will help them transition out of the religious life and into mainstream secular culture. But for many, this type of drastic change results in a loss of family and communal ties and can at times end in absolute tragedy.
People need help to be able to successfully transition from their current state to one which is much more healthy and coherent whilst limiting the fallout in their personal lives. While in Israel over the summer, over breakfast in Tel Aviv with Rabbi Katz, we agreed that we should do something to help those with this kind of very unique need. Thus, this week, the initiative Frumandstuck.com was born.
You are not alone
Almost immediately after I posted a link to the website on my Facebook page, I received a flood of messages to my inbox from people either asking how they could volunteer for the project, or asking for help. The amount of commotion over the post just served to re-emphasize the tremendous need for a service like this.
With this project, neither Rabbi Katz or I have an agenda other than to help people navigate what could otherwise be a very difficult and potentially tragic course of events. If a transition is needed, we hope to assist and advise so that people can forge a life of authenticity and congruence, whatever that outcome will be for them, whilst limiting the hurt and destruction that a sudden or drastic change could otherwise breed.
It is important to realize that existential religious crises do not have to result in a binary choice of either living a double life or leaving the faith community entirely and becoming entirely secular. We hope that we might be able to show people facing this type of crisis that they are not alone and if they take their time, act carefully and deliberately whilst simultaneously being honest with themselves and others there can be positive resolutions to these challenges for them, their family and for their community.
Rabbi Levi Brackman is co-founder and executive director of Youth Directions , a non-profit organization that helps youth find and succeed at their unique positive purpose in life