An Ultra-Orthodox Jew on Being Adrift, Searching for a Navigator

Writing in The New York Times, Leah Vincent reflects on her upbringing as one of eleven children in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community and finding romance on the Q train:

I had been raised in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community. As a girl, my life had revolved around modesty, obedience and dreams of an arranged marriage at 18, followed by a dozen children. Popular movies were irrelevant and forbidden.

But it had been six years since my parents ostracized me for having written letters to a boy, wanting to go to college, complaining when my father, a prominent rabbi, used a slur to describe an African-American person, and wearing an immodest sweater that highlighted my curves. Six years of wrestling with my forbidden desires.

I had finally given up on God and decided I would allow myself to be liberated from the confines of my faith. Now I was catching up on what I had missed.

I loved this paragraph:

Luke was different from those random flings. We talked like old friends about books, Brooklyn, our lives. The next morning, when we hugged goodbye, it felt as if we had already shed a layer of defenses that usually took months to peel away. Our connection seemed deep and profound. On my way home, I let myself imagine what it might be like to wake up every morning with him. I tried on his last name. I wondered what kind of father he might be.

There’s a twist in the story that I wasn’t expecting, but I liked the optimism of her final sentence.

If you enjoyed the piece, you might want to purchase Vincent’s upcoming book: Cut Me Loose: Sin and Salvation After My Ultra-Orthodox Girlhood.

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