My friends and I are celebrating the news that a group of our friends — all former ultra-Orthodox Jews, or maskilim — are getting their own reality show.
We maskilim have been living on the fringes of the Jewish world, many of us navigating dramatic journeys of self-discovery as we pull ourselves free of our pasts, and try to rebuild our lives. When I left my religious family 14 years ago, I did it as a teenager, alone. But since then, a community has coalesced. Footsteps, an organization that helps cultural émigrés from Orthodox Judaism, was founded. Unpious, a website that showcases our voices, was launched. And now the momentum builds, with the publication of Deborah Feldman’s best-selling memoir, Pearlperry Reich’s television appearance (video below) and news of this reality show — all in a few short weeks.
I don’t know exactly what the TV show will cover, but I’ve got some idea. When my buddies and I get together and talk about our journeys, we’ve got plenty of stories to share about fumbling sex, our first “sin,” leaving a religious spouse behind, living secret lives beneath religious facades, visiting a strip club, choosing college over yeshiva — and that’s before we start talking about the otherworldliness of our unusual childhoods!
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