The “Hidden Heretics” Who Remain Part of the Orthodox World

In Hidden Heretics, Ayala Fader explores the lives of ultra-Orthodox American Jews who have lost faith but choose not to leave their communities, instead leading double lives. Thanks to the Internet, not only have these “double-lifers” found each other, but Fader was able to find and interview them. Michal Leibowitz writes in her review:

In [the book’s many vignettes], we hear from Blimi and Moishy, double-life lovers who carry on a years-long affair, at one point even conspiring to spend [the same] weekend at a kosher hotel with their families so they can steal a few minutes alone. We learn the story of Avi, a double-life father who keeps his secrets from his wife and four daughters but includes his nine-year-old son in his private world.

It is as though Fader began . . . with the question, why do people stay if they don’t believe? But upon finding that answer too simple (family, fear), she changed it to, how do they bear it? Unfortunately, her explanation here falters. [The book’s] later chapters are full of fascinating glimpses of double lives, but they jump so frequently from subject to subject, from theme to theme (even the Internet drops out), and remain so often on the surface that they sometimes feel more voyeuristic than scholarly. Fader accepts without question, for example, Blimi’s blithe rationalization that her extramarital affair is just “a lie, and liars are not as bad as hypocrites in my book.” Hypocrisy, on her account, would be if she told her children to pray when she did not herself.

Nevertheless, there is one area in which Fader’s inquiry excels: her discussion of how double lifers navigate the tensions inherent to raising children with values they have privately rejected.

Read more at Jewish Review of Books

More about: American Jewry, Heresy, Internet, Ultra-Orthodox

Israel Is Courting Saudi Arabia by Confronting Iran

Most likely, it was the Israeli Air Force that attacked eastern Syria Monday night, apparently destroying a convoy carrying Iranian weapons. Yoav Limor comments:

Israel reportedly carried out 32 attacks in Syria in 2022, and since early 2023 it has already struck 25 times in the country—at the very least. . . . The Iranian-Israeli clash stands out in the wake of the dramatic events in the region, chiefly among them is the effort to strike a normalization deal between Israel and Saudi Arabia, and later on with various other Muslim-Sunni states. Iran is trying to torpedo this process and has even publicly warned Saudi Arabia not to “gamble on a losing horse” because Israel’s demise is near. Riyadh is unlikely to heed that demand, for its own reasons.

Despite the thaw in relations between the kingdom and the Islamic Republic—including the exchange of ambassadors—the Saudis remain very suspicious of the Iranians. A strategic manifestation of that is that Riyadh is trying to forge a defense pact with the U.S.; a tactical manifestation took place this week when Saudi soccer players refused to play a match in Iran because of a bust of the former Revolutionary Guard commander Qassem Suleimani, [a master terrorist whose militias have wreaked havoc throughout the Middle East, including within Saudi borders].

Of course, Israel is trying to bring Saudi Arabia into its orbit and to create a strong common front against Iran. The attack in Syria is ostensibly unrelated to the normalization process and is meant to prevent the terrorists on Israel’s northern border from laying their hands on sophisticated arms, but it nevertheless serves as a clear reminder for Riyadh that it must not scale back its fight against the constant danger posed by Iran.

Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Saudi Arabia, Syria