“Footsteps is a nurturing community, providing vital services for Jews who have fallen through the cracks.”
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The go-to address for any individual who leaves an ultra-Orthodox Jewish community, providing crucial resources and supports as people redefine their identities, build new communities, and establish self-determined lives.
Why It's In Slingshot
In contrast to the average American Jewish experience, some Jews feel trapped rather than empowered by their religion and community. Footsteps gives Jews from insular ultra-Orthodox communities the tools and skills necessary to live on their own terms. Leaving the ultra-Orthodox community may mean giving up family and friends, economic security, and even physical safety. Footsteps is the only organization of its kind, and it helps its 850 members through this journey by providing an identity exploration process, counseling, and introductions to a peer community. Members find Footsteps as exiles trying to navigate a new society without an understanding of the language, social norms, or economic realities. As a result, many struggle with depression and addiction, making their journeys into secular life even more complicated. Footsteps teaches skills for economic self-sufficiency and provides access to education and community. Highlights include $85,000 a year in school scholarships, a summer internship program, and peer mentoring. Footsteps also leads the charge in public awareness, drawing national media attention and putting the issue on the agendas of many Jewish communal organizations. Due to the high cost per participant, demand far outstrips Footsteps’ ability to serve the need, and as the ultra-Orthodox community grows, this dilemma promises to intensify. In response, Footsteps continually explores models to expand and adapt its programs to address the real needs of the community.
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