Baalei Teshuva / Off - the - Derech

Another chassidic runaway: Yossi Feinhandler

Photo: Yediot Yerushalayim
Jerusalem’s local paper YEDIOT YERUSHALAYIM published in it’s latest editions a longer article about the Karlin – Pinsk runaway Yossi Feinhandler.
It is always important to mention the background of a chassidic runaway, as the secular Israeli media loves those kind of stories. Here, Yediot Yerushalayim stresses that Yossi Feinhandler is from Mea Shearim because Mea Shearim is just great anti – haredi public relation. It is like “Wow, Mea Shearim !”
However, the truth of the matter is that Yossi’s father, Rabbi Aharon Feinhandler, is a Baal Teshuva. He made Aliyah from Chicago and joined Chassidut Karlin – Pinsk. Today he is running a Baal Teshuva organization.
I think that it is always important to explain someone’s haredi background because, otherwise, things like THIS come out. It has to be made very clear that there is a Baal Teshuva background. No, not because I am a Teshuva rassist but I find it important whether a runaway is frum from birth (FFB) or of Baal Teshuva background.
Yossi Feinhandler left the frum lifestyle and now lives with another runaway (a young Ex – Neturei Karta woman) in Ramat Gan. The reason was the Internet, as Yossi’s workplace had Internet access and thus he was able to chat with all kinds of people. His father is running against the Internet now.
I don’t think that it is the Internet itself leading quite a few young Haredim astray. Those who are not happy with their lives would leave anyway. With or without the Internet. And the more haredi Rabbis run against the Internet, the more it is forbidden, the more it does attract young Haredim. It is the unknown and lots of curiosity when especially male Haredim start surfing the Net.
Born Haredim from Mea Shearim or Makor Baruch may claim the usual statement “Typically Baal Teshuva. Unstable and what else can you expect ?”
However, there are runaways from all kinds of frum families. It even happens in families of chassidic Rebbes or other prominent Rabbis. Having children is not a guarantee for frum descendants. The same as having children doesn’t necessarily mean that someone will take care of you when you are old and sick. It doesn’t prevent from loneliness.
Not every Haredi is made for haredi society. Neither a FFB nor a Baal Teshuva or a Baal Teshuva descendant. I am taking from experience because I had the same Teshuva moments but quickly realized that a strict haredi lifestyle is not for me.

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