On the eve of Deb Tambor’s Off the Derech Memorial, may her memory be for a blessing.
I am feeling, we are feeling like we are at a turning point in our history. It’s hard to put your finger on a turning point, so many things preceded that brought us to this moment. But tonight we are seeing the first signs of what the OTD community is becoming. We didn’t necessarily come to this community because we wanted community. We were suffering alone, becoming disengaged from our communities of origin. We had no idea that a community could even exist outside the confines of “the derech”. For many of us it felt like anarchy, faced with so many decisions and possibilities, each as promising or disappointing as the next. There was no clear path.
But we have grown. Our members have brought new members into what we called Off the Derech and some have said “my own derech”. As we gathered we became increasingly aware not just of our own pain and our own discoveries: we began to empathize, to see commonality, to see the value of being oneself within a larger whole.
You are not alone. When you take your first bite into a non-chalav yisroel cheese, or treif turkey, or even ham sandwich, you are following down the path of so many of us who have gone before.
When it starts to dawn on you that what is divine cannot be contained in a single text, a single religion, you are not alone.
When it hits you that as a thinking, feeling human being, your purpose and morality does not come from peer pressure or rigid rules, but rather from within, you are not alone.
You/We are not alone. We are on this path of going down our own path together. I am holding hands with you, you are holding hands with another, and it is a very broad path and a way open to many possibilities, many different ways of being.
We are not alone. We are on our own derech together.