Many of those who leave the ultra-Orthodox life are cut off from their familial and social support networks. Without education or employment and being unfamiliar with basic social codes, they may find themselves in emotional and economic distress or even without a home. The process of leaving the Orthodox community is fraught with hardship and feelings of detachment and alienation.
This exhibition features the works of 33 “leavers”, who participated in PHOTO IS:RAEL’s social outreach program for the sounding of marginalized voices in the language of photography. During their photography meetups they express their difficulties, dreams, wishes and daily challenges. Participants of the program document, stage and articulate burning social and personal messages through image and text, with the goal of raising awareness and receiving acknowledgment for their delicate situation. They reveal their brave and moving stories with the utmost honesty, transforming their anonymity into a visible image, memorializing the reality of their lives and documenting the story of an entire community.
The photographs and quotes in this exhibition are a window to the issues that plague those who’ve left Orthodox communities, including the difficulty of acclimating and being accepted into secular society alongside the reconstruction of one’s identity and sense of belonging. Above all, they express the photographers’ optimism, strength and faith in themselves. The challenges of integrating into secular society are in fact the driving force that pushes them forward down this complex road, which they successfully traverse by finding their own inner strength.
“Hillel – The Right to Choose” has been working for 30 years to aid those leaving ultra-Orthodox communities in Israel to integrate into mainstream Israeli society. Since it was founded in 1991, Hillel has helped thousands of men and women leaving the Orthodox life to successfully integrate into the mainstream and to find housing, complete their military or civil service, bridge enormous educational gaps, develop successful careers and live a full, meaningful life.
Hillel’s vision is an Israeli society in which young Orthodox men and women can freely choose their way of life and find meaning and fulfillment. Hillel seeks to be a welcoming community for those leaving Orthodox communities, and to help them become a part of mainstream Israeli society.
The organization operates in coordination with the Ministry of Welfare at its centers in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa and Safed, as well as in dedicated emergency shelters. Hillel’s staff and many volunteers offer a wide array of services: Personal counselling, housing, education and employment assistance, social and cultural activities, aid for military or civil service members and support for single parents leaving Orthodox communities.
For registration to the online 2021 Festival event – VOICES MAKE THE MOVEMENT- WE ARE THE YOTZIM
Bina Broyt, Meir Binder, Odaya Barak, Chana Va'anunu, Moshe Yosef, Roni Ne'eman.