Off the Derech Case Studies

Izzy’s story

When I first started to feel trapped in the community I grew up in, there seemed to be no way out. Everything beyond the virtual ghetto walls was frightening, foreign and far. It felt like I was going to be stuck there for the rest of my life and be destined to a suffocating lifestyle I no longer believed in.

This was until I found Mavar. When I first reached out to Mavar I was not sure what to expect.

I was immediately reassured that these people are people I can trust.

They had the will and the means to help me. Initially, not having anywhere to live, I was welcomed in by a lovely family for temporary accommodation. Mavar then helped me find a job and guided me towards enrolling at college.

I was assigned several mentors to guide me though issues related to integrating: an education mentor, a personal mentor and a weekly counsellor. Mavar lent me money whilst I was looking for work and got grants for me to pay the initial deposit and rent on the student housing they found for me. I was also given a laptop, essential for my studies, a grant to buy basic household needs and a grant to help with the cost of GCSE courses.

Mavar has saved my spiritual life by giving me the possibility of starting life anew and to live a self-determined life in the way I choose.

Mavar has granted me my freedom and has opened up our wonderful world with its endless opportunities.

Thank you Mavar!


Motti’s story

It was around the end of last June when I finally got the courage to make that phone call. I sat in the car overwhelmed, thinking … kept turning the phone on and off almost pressing the green button and immediately regretting.  Eventually I called – I knew I didn’t have a choice.

Her name was “Alex” she said when I started to tell her my story. I told her how I grew up in a frum family in Israel, how when I was 19 I’d got married to a girl I only met once for 50 minutes. How for the last few years I’m forced to hide from any living creature the fact that I lost my faith in Orthodox Judaism, expected to live a false double life filled with shame and guilt. I told her how the unavoidable discovery of that fact almost caused my expulsion from my own house, that in the near future I will likely be required to leave home, my 3 sweet children, my cosy well-paying  job, and start from scratch.

It is hard to believe it was only nine months ago. How much has changed since that single call.

Mavar provided me solutions to almost any obstacle that came up.

Inevitably, not long after that call I had to leave. Mavar was there, helping with emotional support, legal advice, always having connections with the right professionals for any advice needed.

Soon after I called Mavar I started to think about education. Going to university has always been an impossible target for me. Alien cultural rules and the lack of elementary education have been an insurmountable barrier, but then, after being in contact with Mavar, I suddenly realised “Yes, I can do that!”. Not only I can get some education, I can get any education, I can aim to the top. I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

Mavar’s education expert made the impossible possible.

She guided and advised me through the whole process. Thanks to her I made it. I currently have two offers: one from King’s College, the other from UCL.

Being in this place now, studying, living my own life, having sorted my previous life and looking forward with excitement, I can say none of it would have happened without that single phone call on a sunny June morning. The call I knew I had to make.”


Mavar member – anonymous

Mavar gave me a mentor to answer my questions and help me get on with my studies.

When I spoke to my mentor, I felt that I had found someone who understands me and who supports me.

Thanks to her help, I am now studying what I have wanted to study for a long time. I still have a long journey ahead.

I don’t like to write about my personal life which has been difficult. I always try to look to my future and not my past. When I was in contact with my mentor, I spoke to her about it and she helped me. If not for Mavar and my mentor I don’t know at what stage I would be now in my personal life.

Because my religious level has changed, I am not seen as a good person within the Stamford Hill community. Besides which, there is no one to whom to turn for advice on education in the community. Mavar do not look at my religious level.

I know that many other people feel as I felt. They have no one to turn to. Unfortunately I know many friends who have turned to drugs.
When I saw the Yiddish on the website it meant a lot for me, because I felt that Mavar was a “heimish” organisation and would understand people like myself from an ultra Orthodox community.

It was professional and confidential which also meant a lot.

I am not yet at the point where I feel confident to speak openly about Mavar to other people in the community who want to learn more about the outside world. However, I have told a few people about Mavar and they now know where they can find someone to speak to.


Mavar member – anonymous

I was born into a closed charedi community and had very little connection to the outer world.

In my late 30s I decided that I could no longer be true to myself whilst living in this community, so I took the drastic step of leaving everything I had ever known including my friends, family and employment.

Stepping out into the big outside world was challenging, socially and professionally. It is hard to explain how much there is to learn and acclimatise to, and I find it amazing to discover new things every day. Discoveries that teenagers make when they are 14 I am making at the age of 40. It is not always easy and in some ways I feel like a refugee from another country. On occasions my new friends compare me to an alien from Mars because I’m missing so much basic knowledge.

It has been the amazing people around me that have sustained and supported me on this unbelievable journey.

Mavar and its team have been there to provide guidance and support, from helping me to cope with my family who were struggling to understand my new path in life to tips on making it out there professionally.

Leavers like myself desperately need the support and connections that Mavar can provide.

I hope they continue to expand their services and help more individuals access the real world.