Heretic in the House
America has a fascination with Hasidic Jews. But these popular depictions don’t tell the whole story; they just tell the story the public wants to hear. What they hide is a complicated dance between Orthodox Judaism and those who leave the community, and a web of stereotypes that trap Hassidim, rebels, and the public alike.
On Heretic in the House, a limited podcast series from the Hartman Institute, Naomi Seidman takes us on a deeply moving journey with believers and heretics to uncover their hidden stories and how they grapple with Jewish identity, religion in the public square, and pluralism.
Episode 1: Telling the Tale
One of the deep ironies of leaving Orthodox Judaism is that people ask you to tell the story of your exit over and over again. Some people who left even make their living telling that story. Why do people who have no connection to Orthodox Judaism find these stories so interesting, and why does telling the story feel false even when it’s completely true? LISTEN >
Episode 2: Shunning
There’s a widespread notion that people who leave Orthodox communities are typically shunned, completely cut off from their families. Even those who leave Orthodox communities believe this. The truth is that it’s not true—but what really happens may not be any less painful. LISTEN >
Episode 3: Nebech
The secular world has a narrative about what it means to leave Orthodox Judaism. The Orthodox world has a narrative, too, one that treats those who leave as pitiful people who were dealt a bad hand in life. This story is so deeply ingrained that even those who leave take it with them, whether they want to or not. What does it mean to shed that self-perception? LISTEN>
Episode 4: You’re So Brave
The crucial moment in so many stories about leaving the Orthodox community is the decision itself, which is frequently portrayed as a painful and heroic act, one that requires tremendous willpower. But leaving rarely works this way; instead, it is a messy and gradual process, one that can leave scars on both the leaver and their community. This episode examines the act of leaving, and whether it is always the leaver who decides that it’s time to go. LISTEN>