Beyond the charedi community
I want to learn about the world outside the charedi community. Am I alone?
You are not alone. There are others within the charedi community who also want to learn about the world outside – to understand what it offers and to explore aspects of their personality that they cannot do within the community. In New York, a similar organisation called Footsteps has been approached by approximately 3,000 people in the last 10 years. Mavar has been approached by 90 people in its first 3 and a half years (equivalent to 900 people in the New York community which is 10 times the size of the London community).
Why do some charedim want to explore the outside world, go ‘off the derech’ or leave the community?
There are many reasons: to get an education for themselves or their children; to find a new career or employment in the wider community; to develop talents and interests that they cannot develop within the community, or to leave orthodox Judaism. Some identify as reverse marranos, or see themselves as ‘formerly frum’.
If I want to explore the outside world, do I have to live a double life or leave the community?
Not necessarily, but exploring the outside world is not approved by the community. Some charedim live in relationships that allow them to explore the outside world. Others feel that they must do so entirely in secret. Mavar exists to support you in whichever choice you make.
I feel intimidated by the outside world – it seems so strange. I don’t know where to begin.
The range of options in the secular world can be overwhelming even for those who have been brought up in it. It is full of contradictions. It can be exciting and liberating but it can also be disappointing. It can be inspiring and fulfilling but it can also be lonely. Knowing where to begin is a real challenge. Mavar is here to support.
Where do I begin?
How do I contact Mavar?
You can call Alex on the Mavar Helpline: 020 8144 5074. Because the helpline is not staffed at all times, you may be asked to leave a message. If you can give us a telephone number to call you on that would be helpful and we will do our best to call you back at the time you request. Alternatively, you can email us: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mavar will treat your call with complete confidentiality and impartiality, and you will not have to give your name.
Is there a chance that people will know that I have contacted Mavar?
Mavar will not share your identity or personal information with any individual or organisation. Our service is completely confidential. You can use a pseudonym (false name) if you like.
What will happen next?
When you contact Mavar, one of our staff will talk to you over the telephone about your situation and what you are looking for. When you are ready, a member of our team will meet with you in a discreet location. This is important to ensure that we are dealing with genuine callers.
Based on your wishes and our assessment of your needs, you will be offered a mentor whom you can meet in person or speak to over the telephone or internet. Your mentor will coordinate all the guidance you receive. Together, you and your mentor will decide where and how often to speak or meet. You can also make arrangements for ‘emergency contact’.
I am under 18 years old. Can you help me?
If you are between the ages of 16 and 18 Mavar can offer you assistance through its online resource pack which provides information and website links to useful organisations. We can also provide a telephone mentoring service.
However, if you are under 16 years old you are a minor – in effect a child under the supervision of your parents. There are specific laws that cover offering services to minors and, as a result, Mavar cannot support you. When you turn 18, Mavar can support you directly.
Exploring the outside world
How do I begin to explore the outside world?
The internet is the most common way to begin to explore the outside world and to connect with others in the charedi community who are doing the same. There are many active Facebook groups where people go for support, and many other websites with reading material and videos to help you along your journey. A word of warning – if you are worried about revealing your identity, be careful when going online as it is easy to give away information about yourself.
There are also many organisations, advisory bodies and learning centres that may be able to help you. In the appendix to this documents there is a list of interesting websites and organisations that that you may wish to explore.
If I choose to leave the community
How will I make friends if I leave the community?
Mavar can put you in touch with other ex-charedim and off the derech support groups who have gone through a similar experience. It is not an easy journey – it can be stressful and lonely. But there are many people around to help and support you. Many other charedim have made the journey successfully and Mavar is here to assist. Your mentor is at the end of a phone. There are families we can introduce you to who will provide unquestioning support.
I have a family. Will I be able to retain a relationship with my children if I choose to leave the community?
The charedi community may act quickly to prevent you from seeing your children or to limit your access to them. The community may regard you as a bad influence who must be prevented from spending time with your children. You need to be prepared for this situation, both legally – to address questions of access and custody – and psychologically – for the challenging emotional journey you will be on.
Mavar’s resource pack provides some basic information about your legal rights in relation to your children and our mentors can help to link you with legal advisors. We can also refer you to a counsellor if you need to talk to someone about your emotional well-being.