FAQ

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Here are a number of questions people frequently ask ex-Jews. We have included links to relevant discussions in r/exjew.

Should I tell my parents/partner?

Coming out is a difficult and complex issue facing people in a variety of contexts. Whether or not you should tell your parents or partner about leaving Judaism, becoming an atheist, dating a non-Jew, or similar changes in your life may have pros and cons, and will be affected by your specific circumstances. It depends on your age, how tolerant your parents are, whether you are dependent on your parents, and what costs and benefits might result from coming out.

In some circumstances it is important, healthy, and safe to come out. In other cases, such as if you are still dependent on them or living at home (and depending on the attitude of your parents, which may be hard to predict), it may be necessary or safer to wait until you are financially secure and independent from your parents before coming out. Don't rush into a decision. You may wish to test the waters first with innocuous 'by-the-way' comments about religion or belief, or by talking about another person who left the faith/married a non-Jew/etc. See what your parents' reaction is.

When you do come out, take your time to consider what you want to say, and remain calm, positive, and respectful. Avoid argumentation and debate. Remember that coming out is a decision to inform one person about yourself; it is not a negotiation. Also remember that your parents may not be prepared for what you are telling them, especially if they still think you are fully religious. They may take their cues from you, they may react warmly, or they may have a negative reaction. Understand where they're coming from, respect that, and give them time to process this new information. Don't expect things to be resolved in a single conversation.

Whether you have just come out or are thinking about telling your parents, it would be helpful to have a support group of sympathetic friends or family members who can be there for you to give you encouragement, advice, and moral support. As always, r/exjewcan be a place for you to seek advice and support for your specific circumstances.

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Related threads

How do you handle being in a relationship with a partner who is still religious?

Navigating a relationship with a person who is still religious, especially while in a religious community, can pose various challenges. Questions about how to tell your spouse you no longer share their religious outlook, how to work things out with a difference in belief, how to talk about religion with any kids you may have, and more, can come up. The best approach may depend on your circumstances. In some cases, there could be a concern that coming out as non-religious would mean risking divorce or potentially losing access to your kids, while in some cases a healthy relationship can be worked out. In some cases the rest of your family may go along with your departure from religion, or some people prefer to remain Orthoprax (outwardly religious) for family peace or because they genuinely like the lifestyle. In the threads below, you can find other people going through similar situations, see how they dealt with it, and see what advice they got.

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Do some people view you differently because of your religious background?

Yes, in some circumstances.

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Do you still consider yourself Jewish (culturally, ethnically, etc.)?

This comes up a lot. Race, identity, religion and ethnicity are complex and feed into each other. Opinions vary on this among those who have left the religion in this subreddit. Some see themselves as culturally Jewish, ethnically Jewish, or part of a Jewish nation, while others see Judaism as nothing more than a religion and so no longer consider themselves Jewish. You're fundamentally welcome to identify however you like.

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What do ex-Jews think about Israel?

There are lots of ex-Jews, and they believe all sorts of things. Some of us were previously religious anti-Zionists (think Satmer Neturai Karte) and have become secular Zionists, others were Religious Zionists and have become secular anti-Zionists. And of course some people became irreligious and their views stayed the same.

Religion informs our views on how people work together, but there's a wide variety of views here. Personally some of us might have very strong views on the topic, but this is a subreddit for ex-Jews. If you have a specific question about ex-Jews and Zionism, this is an appropriate place to ask it. However, general posts about Israel or Zionism probably belong in /r/JewishAntiZionism, /r/Zionism, /r/Palestine or /r/Israel.

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Regardless of our views, we love our fellow ex-Muslims! This post is one of the most popular ever on r/exjew.

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What are Jews taught to think about Muslims?

Not much in particular. On the religious side, Judaism doesn't have much to say about Muslims, in large part due to the fact that Islam is a younger religion than Judaism. Islam is not regarded as idolatry by Jewish law and so is viewed more favorably than many religions, though Islam can still be criticized along with all other religions besides Judaism. Culturally, Jews tend to be among the most tolerant: According to a survey conducted by the ISPU, Jews held the most favorable views towards Muslims among other religious groups. There are communities, of course, where prejudiced views are more common, but they represent a relatively small minority.

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What do ex-Jews think about the practice of circumcision?

Although some of us remain open to performing circumcisions on newborn males for familial, cultural, or other reasons, a far more common sentiment here is that circumcisions should not be performed, assuming there is no medical need, since the child is unable to consent to the operation.

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How do you make friends outside of the religious community?

Finding hobby-based meetups can often be a good way of making new friends. Community events and the workplace are also places where you can meet people. Depending on where you are, you may be able to find OTD meetups, or connect with people through Footsteps.

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Is anyone else ex-Hasidic/ex-BT/an ex-convert/married to a religious spouse/etc.?

It's nice to have some solidarity. No matter how unique you feel your situation is, there probably is someone who went through what you're going through.

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Does anyone else get a feeling of dysphoria from wearing a kippah or skirt?

Yes, many of us can relate to this.

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What made you leave Judaism?

There are many different reasons that cause people to start questioning Judaism, ranging from simply losing faith, to finding logical flaws in the religion, to having personal values conflict with those taught by the religion, to seeing hypocrisy among rabbis, to having difficulties with the religion, to having difficulties with the religious community. It's different for everybody, but often when the serious questioning begins, and the answers are unsatisfactory, and the reasons to not believe Judaism are stronger than the reasons to believe, it leads to a lack of belief in Judaism. In the related threads below, you can read some stories posted here previously about why people left Judaism, and Off The Derech also has many stories of people who have left Orthodoxy. You may also be interested in Reddit's religious de-conversion story archive, which collects stories of people leaving religion in general, not just formerly religious Jews.

Nishma Research has also conducted surveys of those who have left the Orthodox community. Here is their June 2016 report of those who left Orthodoxy (PDF) and their July 2016 report of those who specifically left Modern Orthodoxy (PDF).

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What do you think about arguments in favor of Judaism?

We often get asked for our response to various proofs or arguments or apologetics made in favor of Judaism. Some more of the common ones are addressed on our counter-apologetics page. If you feel like there is an argument that you need help addressing or want to get another take on, we are often happy to help. If your question is just an attempt to try to convert us back to Judaism, however, that is against our rules.

I'm thinking of converting to Judaism. Is there anything I should be aware of?

If you want to convert to Judaism, that is of course your choice. If you're coming here to ask ex-Jews for reasons why you might not want to convert, though, members of this subreddit are unlikely to encourage conversion, for starters since we do not believe in the religion. We would also caution, if you want to convert because of the community or teachings or structure of the religion, that you may be disillusioned as Jewish communities have good and bad people like any other, that many of the teachings of Judaism which you may not be shown upfront are not at all good, with many of the more wholesome teachings being cherry picked to make it look more palatable, that misogynistic and other morally repugnant ideas are embedded in the religion, and that depending on which version of Judaism you join that the rules of the religion are so numerous, strict, and all-encompassing that the structure could quickly start to feel like oppression. If you want some anecdotes for people who were interested in converting but ended up not doing it, or discussions by people who were considering conversion or by less religious Jews who were considering becoming more religious, you can find past discussions we've had on this subreddit.

Please also see Why Judaism is Bad for You.

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What do you think of bringing all ex-religious people together?

We love it! You may also be interested in r/exittors.

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Why do Hasidic people keep driving down my street?

Okay, this is not all that frequently asked, but it's pretty funny.

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Why do Hassidic Jews keep driving down my street?