I’m part of this fascinating Facebook group called “Frum/OTD Dialogue,” which has been growing rapidly since I joined a few months ago. While the content of the group is for members only, I was inspired by a question that I saw this morning and posted the following on my personal Facebook page.
“Let’s try a social experiment of a collaborative (potential) blog post.
Here’s the first line: “Dear Frum People,”…
All are welcome to contribute, frum, OTD, or otherwise. Be respectful. Or PM me if that’s too hard.”
I didn’t know if anyone would respond, but they did, and those comments combined with some poetic license turned into the following collaborative letter, which begins…
Dear Frum People,
We know it’s hard accept the fact that we don’t believe in Hashem or the Torah anymore. But please be respectful of our choices, just as you’d like us to be respectful of yours.
We know you think our souls are doomed. We would love to try to change your minds, but we know that’s just as condescending as when you try to change ours.
You speak so much of our anger and bitterness, but we wish you understood that we don’t stay away because we’re angry, we stay away because you prioritize your religion over our happiness and well-being.
We really wish you would respect our individuality. Please don’t lump us all together, just because we fall under the OTD umbrella. You know how much you resent it when we say, “All frum people…”
Please listen to us. Please don’t write us off as hostile and vindictive and unstable. Please consider that we are speaking truths.
Please take responsibility for the fundamentalists in your midst. Call them out on their behavior, because if you don’t, we will. When you stay silent, you seem complicit, and we can’t trust you.
Please stop shoving sexual abuse, physical abuse, domestic violence, mental illness, and substance abuse under the rug. Of course it exists. You are human. To recognize and address these issues has to be a Torah value, right?
Please think twice when it comes to politics and religion. We know you have strong beliefs and convictions, and that’s okay. But consider this. We believe in your right to have your family. Do you believe in our right to have ours?
We wish you could explain to us why you prioritize specific mitzvot yet completely neglect others. You care so much about shabbat and kashrut, but what about your fellow Jew crumbling under homophobia or sexual abuse?
We would like you to remember that we have a pretty good sense of how you view us, because we used to be one of you. But we also want you to know that we love so many of you. Deeply and sincerely.
Dear Frum People, we wouldn’t bother with this if we didn’t want to bridge the gap and be more connected. We wouldn’t bother if we didn’t care about keeping families and relationships intact.
Dear Frum People, some of you are our parents and sisters and best friends. Please don’t ever stop seeing us as human beings.
Dear Frum People, we are just like you.