by Devoiry Rubin | March 24 2021
I don’t remember a time when I didn’t love learning. I have always been the type of girl who asked questions. In my school, I didn’t get the answers I wanted but when I asked my parents if I could go to a better school, they were not able to grant me this wish and I felt powerless. My hunger for education grew deeper as I got older.
By the time I was finished with high school, I only had a 4th grade level in math. I had only read a limited selection of literature. I was a child who hungered for more knowledge and it was denied to all of us. The natural curiosity I possessed inside me and the deep desire to increase my knowledge were in direct contrast to what the people around me believed that Hashem wanted.
I wondered if it was really the Ribono Shel Olam’s will that we be limited in our knowledge. If it was His will, why did He give me such a thirst to know more? I was too curious and too determined to simply follow the rules imposed on me by my community. My desire to learn drove me forward and I went through the process of pursuing higher education.
When I finally left the community, it took me years to realize just how much my education and knowledge of the world had been filtered through a Hasidic lens. This came as a shock to me, a slow awareness that set in as I explored the outside world. I guess you could say that I was naive to think that beyond the boundaries of my frum enclave, all information would be true. That was what my sheltered, uninformed self thought. In college, the filters I had grown up with were removed and I developed the ability to evaluate the facts and to form my own opinions.
Through my educational journey, I now understand that it is okay to question my culture and social constructs without losing faith in the Aibishter. I am no longer afraid of choices, but in my journey, I had many difficult experiences – yet, I had the freedom to ask questions and seek knowledge. In fact, Hakadosh Baruch Hu gave me the strength to make choices that were scary but were oh-so-rewarding! I can travel, explore my own sense of style, and push the boundaries I was raised in. My bravery has opened up a world of opportunity. If you are reading this, know that I have succeeded in breaking through barriers that were placed on me by my community. I want you to be inspired, to not be afraid to ask questions, to pursue knowledge, and to fight for your own dreams!
It’s a new day, the sun is shining, and cars are whizzing by. I stare out my window as I am writing to you — for you — but about me. Maybe you can relate, or perhaps you can’t. As I write from my perspective about a world that has all the comforts of modernity but none of the privileges, I aim to share what I have discovered. The world has profound opportunities. During my journey of education, I have had many experiences that have shaped me into the person I am today. I have found that it is a privilege to learn and to be uncomfortable, and that I am empowered to achieve my goals.
Even though I have not found all the answers, I have learned that it is okay to keep searching. I’ve excelled in my studies, and I look forward to a bright future in my field. My thirst for knowledge is now quenched as there are no barriers in my life anymore. I believe that the Aibishter has given us all talents and does not limit us but wants us to walk in freedom. I may have left the community, but I have not left my family and friends. I think many of them are actually proud of me now.
If I can encourage and help you in your journey, feel free to contact me.