Tuesday, July 21, 2015

In Honor of Faigy Mayer

     In the wee hours of the morning, the Off the Derech Facebook community learned of the tragic suicide of Faigy Mayer, a bright young woman who, with extraordinary courage, had left the ultra-orthodox community to pursue her dreams. She was kind and caring, and understanding the difficulties in leaving the ultra-orthodox world, was working on technology to better the experiences of those going off the derech (path) of orthodox Judaism. She had many friends. I consider myself fortunate to have made her acquaintance in online forums. I know many others who knew her personally. We are all feeling the pain that this loss brings.

     In the wake of such an awful event, it is easy to lay blame. Rather than hurl accusations, it is important to remember several things.

  • Remember that family and friends should never ostracize someone for choosing a different path in life than the one in which she/he was raised. It is fine to disagree, but religion should never be more important than people. 
  • Remember that depression is an illness that can be treated, but not everyone who needs help gets it in time or, sadly, at all. Read NIMH's website for more information on depression
  • Remember that people who leave orthodox communities do not "have something wrong with them." This is a popular refrain often repeated within certain groups, in order to maintain the illusion that all is perfect within their communities. People leave orthodoxy for a variety of reasons, both emotional and intellectual.
  • Remember the importance of reaching out to people. If you are depressed or having a tough time, or if you know someone who may be going through a rough patch, offer support. A phone call, a cup of coffee, a few moments of your day may make all the difference in the world.
  • Remember, if you need help or know someone who does, reach out.
     May all who mourn be consoled. May you find inner peace and strength to get through the hard days ahead, and may you ultimately take comfort in your positive memories.

     If you feel you are in a crisis please call
1-800-273-TALK (8255) where you will be connected to a skilled, trained counselor at a crisis center in your area, anytime 24/7. You can also call the hope line for similar services: 1-800-442-HOPE. For people outside of the USA, please refer to http://www.suicide.org/international-suicide-hotlines.html.

Read more.
Ex-Hasid Dies in Fall from Rooftop -Failed Messiah
We Don't Get It -Kol B'Isha Erva
Four Hours -My Derech, On and Off


  1. "An earlier exclusive report from one of our sources told that Faigy Mayer had found herself ostracized and effectively punished for having ‘dared’ leave the strict Jewish Hasidic faith, with religious organizers encouraging the girl’s family to disavow her to ‘teach her’ what life was really like without the community and for non believers."

    I can vouch this tactic was widespread among Chassidim but also Litvak Misnaggid Orthodox Judaism in general. It is the mark of a dangerous cult and is child abuse. One purpose of my blog is to debunk arguments for Orthodox Judaism and thus help others articulate why OJ is bogus. This can bring intellectual peace of mind to those strugglimg with Kiruv type arguments.

    Faigy death is an absolute waste and tragedy.

  2. we must maintain an environment for our kids which allows them to choose their own path freely, not just 'ostracize" if they leave....this unspoken expectation is worse than the actual shunning of an otd kid, or a gay child, etc.

    1. Cults in general ostracize - that is one tactic they use to self perpetuate. Will Orthodoxy truly accept marrying a "Goy", Homosexuals, Atheists , OTD ? I don't think so.

    2. I don't think that they need to truly accept the choices of those who leave orthodoxy, but they should accept the rights of those who leave to make such choices, and understand that their communities--by not allowing individuals to be themselves--are part of a much larger problem.
      What's frightening is that they are willing to accept (and fund!) other people's children for changing their lives and push them to leave the values of their own parents to become orthodox but they have no patience for their own children who do the same thing, but in the opposite direction and without coercion.

  3. @bec In general Orthodoxy will neither accept the choices nor the rights to make such choices. As far as Orthodoxy kiruv of non orthodox Jews you have to understand the OJ mind. They believe they have truth. They believe they are true Judaism and the other denominations are to be barely tolerated, especially if OJ can gain benefits from Non Orthodox Jews. More often many OJ consider non orthodox denominations as heretics and wish they would disappear. So, OJ thinks they are doing a mitzvah (good deed) by 'converting' non orthodox jews.

  4. I seen this in where I live and it does cause harm. I seen things like this in various forms, but it doesnt just happen specifically with Orthldox Judaism. I seen non Orthldox people who are Jewish harassing, intimidating and trying to control people to cover up some pretty bad things done by people who are Jewish. They must have also thought that they are doing a good deed -protecting those Jews, regardless of what they did, as long as it was done to a non Jew it was ok, it is the Jew, whoever, logically, bad, that needed to be protected. In my personal eg- My father is Jewish and my mother is not. I have sort of been ostracised- more accurately just treated as someone unimportant and inferior by some Jewish family members- not because i did anything bad or for a particular reason- no, this role was "prescribed" on me at an early age just because i am not jewish. It happens in Jewish religion that peoples perceptions and normal relationships are subjugated to religious thought or their own idea of religion.

    1. * however bad not whoever
      Things that are biased/personal/emotional - those things that are subjective - if they are allowed to continue - in my opinion this is what causes this. I can see how this can lead to suicides. Many forms of family abuse cause harm, which sometimes leads to suicide. There should be free will for any one - Jewish, non Jewish, Orthodox, atheist etc- in a family a family is important not prescribed ideas developed centuries ago without evidence

  5. The suicides among teens and young adults has reached crisis proportions. It occurs for Jews and non Jews, religious or not. I think people want to promote their own agendas in tragic situations which are issues of depression and family problems. This has little to do with Jewish affiliations.

    1. This particular post is addressing this particular suicide, as well as people in Ms. Mayer's peer group who may be having a tough time dealing with this news.


Your respectful comments are welcome.