Friday, June 20, 2014

Leah Vincent

Leah Vincent is a writer and activist. The first person in her family to go to college, she earned a BA in psychology as a night student on a Presidential Scholarship at Brooklyn College before going on to earn a Master’s in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School as a Pforzheimer Fellow. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Unpious and The Jewish Daily Forward. Vincent is an advocate for reform within ultra-Orthodoxy and for the empowerment of former ultra-Orthodox Jews seeking a self-determined life. She is a co-producer of the It Gets Besser project and a member and board member of Footsteps, the only organization in the United States supporting formerly ultra-Orthodox individuals.

Vincent's new book is Cut Me Loose: Sin and Salvation After My Ultra-Orthodox Girlhood.

From her Q &A with Caroline Leavitt:

You are incredibly brave. At 16, after exchanging letters with a male friend, your parents, ultra-Orthodox Jews, put you on a plane and cut off ties. How were you able to hold it together and become a dazzling author? Did you ever imagine that this would be the outcome of your life?

Thank you Caroline. It was a very long journey – and I did a whole lot of falling apart along the way. It took radical hope, and a willingness to pick myself up after I fell down, again and again and again, to get to where I am. When I was going through the worst of it, as a teenager and in my early twenties, it was inconceivable to me that I’d be as happy and blessed as I am now, with a new family, friends and community that support me, and a life busy doing what I love.

What sparked the writing of this book and what surprised you as you were writing it?

I had promised myself, that if I survived, I would write this book. About a year after finishing graduate school, I heard about the suicide of another former ultra-Orthodox Jew and it moved me to fulfill that promise. Hearing about this tragedy reminded me that there were still so many people out there struggling, and that telling my story might help them feel less alone and might help raise awareness about how challenging it can be to leave ultra-Orthodoxy.

I was surprised by how difficult it was to write this story. I thought I could just transcribe my dairies, but it takes...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Leah Vincent's website and Facebook page.

The Page 99 Test: Cut Me Loose.

--Marshal Zeringue