The Shmooze

A Video Message to the Ultra-Orthodox: ‘It Gets Besser’

By Renee Ghert-Zand

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If you are a gay or lesbian young person, then “It Gets Better.” But if you a Haredi, Hasidic or Yeshivish Jew yearning to leave your ultra-Orthodox community, then “It Gets Besser.”

Taking a cue from LGBT Orthodox Jews who are increasingly taking pride in who they are and staking claim in the Jewish community, young ultra-Orthodox Jews who have left their insular communities are speaking out in growing numbers. The “It Gets Besser” video campaign is one such statement, aimed both at the general public and at young Haredi Jews who feel that they don’t fit in.

The video features a set of “before” and “after” photos showing individuals as they looked while living their ultra-Orthodox lives and then how they appear now as secular or less observant Jews. There go the payes, here come the male ponytails. Out with the long skirts, in with the short shorts.

The video is produced by Leah Vincent and Samuel Katz. Vincent is the associate editor of Unpious.com, “an online journal for those whose roots are in the Chasidic world but have left it in body or spirit.” The website caters to what it calls “fringe-Chasidic culture.”

In less than two days, “It Gets Besser” has garnered more than seven thousand page views. Some seventy-five comments posted on the video essentially fall into three categories. Some are written by viewers critical of ultra-Orthodox education and upbringing and who applaud these individuals for bravely following their hearts. Others (ostensibly from the Haredi community) wish these young people well, but denounce them as druggie dropouts who bring dishonor to themselves and their families. Still others point out that as visually striking these “before” and “after” images may be, they fail to convey the nuanced and undoubtedly difficult journey that took place between them.

Watch ‘It Gets Besser’:


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