Need official English title.
Datlashim - Previously Religious
Thoughts on the root causes of youth leaving the Religious Zionist lifestyle (Hebrew)

Yafit Clymer

In this paper, the author surveys the phenomenon that is taking place in the Religious Zionist community of young people leaving the ways of Torah and shmirat hamitsvot. There are no exact statistics about how many young people are leaving the Orthodox fold, but the estimates range from fifteen to twenty percent per year of the students in the religious high schools, the yeshivot tichoniyot, both boys and girls.

When seeking to identify the traits of those who choose this path away from observance, at first the differences between the individuals seem to outnumber the commonalities. It is possible to categorize the reasons according to theological, psychological, social, philosophical, educational and historical factors. I will nevertheless attempt to pinpoint the common denominators and discuss the broader reasons why this phenomenon is taking place. I will try to show that the reasons can be identified, and split them into two major categories: those which we can fix, such as bad educational policies, and those which are out of our hands, the result of the historical change which affect the Orthodox Jews of Israel along with the rest of world society.

After wading through endless monologues and interviews of the formerly frum, the author stands in bewilderment and asks several questions. Why did the Religious Zionist school system really fail so miserably? What more could they have done to keep the youth on the path of Torah and Mitsvot? I propose that many of the contributing factors are caused by societal processes that are far more powerful than schools. Nevertheless, I assert that schools can indeed do more to help students to deal with the many challenges of modern religious life. How much can we demand from the family as a social agent? What is the alternative in a time where the family as a value is weakened? How can children grow to choose to remain within their parents’ traditions? Is the younger generation too shallow to seek to learn about their religious roots? The opposite seems to be true, but their search for meaning seems to originate from different sources than we traditionally expect.

There are theological issues to be dealt with, in the light of individualistic and post-modern attitudes. How do we relate to the culture of the self and the worship of doubt? Is there any way to make serving Hashem “cool” enough to interest our youth!?


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