Ex-Charedi describes breaking away from strictly Orthodox community in short video

Izzy Posen taught himself English when he was 18 using a dictionary


A student who broke away from the strictly Orthodox community of Stamford Hill has recorded his experiences in a short video published by the BBC.

Izzy Posen, 23, who is studying physics and philosophy at Bristol University, started teaching himself English with the aid of a dictionary when he was 18.

His schooldays were not “very pleasant” he said, because his teachers hit him on a “daily basis”.

When he grew up, “language was almost exclusively Yiddish”, he said. “It is seen as a way of separating us from the outside world and keeping us chatting only amongst ourselves.”

As a teenager, he rebelled one Saturday while his friends were in synagogue when he sneaked off to a supermarket and bought a ham sandwich, consuming it in the toilet.

Although he was sent to Israel in an attempt to restore his faith when he said he no longer believed, he was “shunned” by his community and unable to go back. 

Helped to find work and accommodation by Mavar, an organisation which provides aid to young Charedim looking to explore the wider world, he said his journey had not been easy but was worth it.

“I am much happier now than I was back then,” he said. “Experiencing the freedom of the outside world is amazing. I still identify as a Jew, I see lots of value in being Jewish and practising Jewish culture, I just don’t believe in the religious claims.”

Share via

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive