Sunday, March 18, 2007

Jewish Atheist Makes The New York Times!

Oh yeah, and it's an interesting article, too. ;-)

Mis-nagid pointed me to this article:
Although questioning their religion is a complex and often painful ordeal, those straying from Orthodoxy have lately found a flourishing number of options to help smooth their paths. The Internet has spurred a mass of fringe Orthodox blogs and e-mail lists with names like “Jewish Atheist” and “Frum Skeptics.” In 2003, a nonprofit organization called Footsteps was formed to offer resources like G.E.D. classes and support groups for people moving away from strict Orthodoxy.

For at least a decade, Mr. Schonfeld has been an unofficial anchor for the drifting. An erudite man with a long, gauzy beard and a wry smile, he has lived almost his entire life in Borough Park. In the 1990s, a computer and electronics store that he owned in the neighborhood became a nightly hangout for some local residents who, though they may have appeared indistinguishable from other Hasidim, were freethinkers and misfits who sought a place to speak openly and not feel judged. The rabbi of the Millinery Center Synagogue, aware of Mr. Schonfeld’s rapidly growing community, offered him space for a weekly gathering, which has since mushroomed in size, its presence publicized primarily through word of mouth and an e-mail list.

Over time, the gathering began to draw people who had no apparent links to Hasidism but were warmed to discover, as Mr. Schonfeld said, half joking, “that Hasidic people are not Martians.” Among them were local professionals, downtown hipsters, curious academics and spiritual seekers. Some became frequent visitors, intrigued by a taste of a world that many of their grandparents and great-grandparents long ago jettisoned. Mr. Schonfeld compares the scene to a city of refuge, a Biblical reference to a town where a man who had accidentally killed another could gain asylum.

Read the whole thing, it's interesting. I particularly like the "city of refuge" analogy.

By the way, first-time readers, check out this index I made almost a year ago for posts you might find interesting:

Welcome, Rabbis! (And a Round-up of Previous Posts)


Anonymous said...

The Frum Skeptics Group mentioned right after your blog.

CyberKitten said...


It'll be interesting to see what effect it has on your Hit rating...

Half Sigma said...

Lucky you, I never got mentioned in the NY Times (although Richard Leiby mentioned me once in the Washington Post website).