Hasidic cults like Kiryas Joel, how common is it for the kids to get free from them?

They are as bad as FLDS, except without the bigamy. Most of the FLDS folks stay in (if they aren’t kicked out for being guys competing for the young girls, that is), but I would imagine that at least a few of the folks in these groups manage to break free and live in normal society. I just wonder how much a grip they have over their kids.

And a related question, they seem to be breeding up a storm, and the neighbors are organizing to keep them from claiming more territory. How are they going to have room take care of everybody in a couple of generations? Well they eventually build highrise apartments with their welfare checks? It seems like what they are doing is unsustainable in the long run, and of course the rest of us are paying for it with our tax dollars. :rolleyes:

Kiryas Joel isn’t a cult. It’s a village in the town of Monroe that’s almost entirely occupied by Satmar Hasidim. And I’m not particularly fond of the Hasidim as a group, or the Satmar in particular, but they’re not a cult, either.

Also, it figures you would start this thread on a Friday night. :slight_smile:

Not a cult? Surely you jest. Lets see, how many of these characteristics of a cult they meet:



Ecstatic prayer anyone? Check.



They are in constant conflict with neighbors. Check.

They could give a hoot about even mundane things like building codes. Check.


Women: You must give up your job after you have a child! Check.

Even if only by breeding. Check.

Or getting it from the rest of us by going on the dole. Check.


Ultra Check.


This is a flat-out cult.

Except that every single thing you just said could be equally applied to the Roman Catholic Church or Tibetan Buddhism. Which either means that it’s a useless checklist, or else every organised religion is a flat out cult.

Where did you find your checklist, and how does it measure in terms of degree?

The Catholic Church does NOT say that women can’t work, or tell them what to wear. (Hello, most of the teachers at Catholic schools are women!) Can you give me a cite for this?
As for OP, he doesn’t offer any links, so I can’t comment.

I wouldn’t disagree with that.

I’m an ex-Catholic and am pretty sure that many of the items on that checklist do not apply to the Roman Catholic church. For example, members are not required to cut ties with family/friends. There is no chanting, speaking in tongues, lengthy meditation sessions, etc. You are not required to live only with other Catholics. In fact, I would say that most of the items on the list do not apply to Catholicism or to many other organized religions.

I have been reading about them on Wikipedia. I simply do not see evidence that they practice mind control, force people to sever ties, or any other “cult like” behavior. The place merely seems like an area with a high concentration of religious people all born into the same religion.

If this language was used here about any racial minority, it would catch more flak than a B-17 flying over Berlin.

That’s nice, or something. But since that isn’t the wording on the list I have no idea what point you are making.

The RC leadership certainly does demand that members get permission to marry, to divorce, it tells them what birth control they can use, it tells them who they can have sex with and how. It effectively tells them that married couples must have children, it tells them how to discipline their children.

There’s no way that you can pretend that the RC leadership doesn’t dictate how members should think, act, and feel just because it doesn’t stipulate a dress code.

No chanting or lengthy meditation in Roman Catholicism? Are you joking?



I’ll grant you the bit about not living with outsiders.

So by the standards of this list the RC church is just as much a cult as Scientology. The list is meaningless.

Right. There’s no chanting in Catholicism, at all.

Wikipedia doesn’t tell the whole story.

Just a statement of fact. They have the lowest average age of any community in the United States, due to their high reproductive rates. They are also in a very limited area, and the surrounding communities don’t want them to expand. It seems as though they haven’t thought their cunning plan all the way through. Perhaps they will establish a satellite at some point.

Anyway, my question still stands: Do any of the young people brought up in this cult ever escape? At least the Amish have the tradition of Rumspring. These folks seem like it’s once you are legal it’s time to get married and get knocked up to start the breeding program.

Yeah, I’ll give you the chanting thing. I suppose I was thinking of chanting in tongues or whatnot. I still maintain that many of the list items do not apply to Catholicism.

Given the loaded nature of the OP, this is more appropriate for GD than GQ.

General Questions

So where do we get the whole story?
Where are your cites?

To answer your question without editorializing, there are obviously former Hasidim around, and more specifically, former Satmar Hasidim, although, like with most religions, most people follow their parents.

When I went to Temple Beth El as a young lad in Spring Valley, New York and there were a number of formerly-Hasidic families who for whatever reason became reform Jews. It’s probably not as common as say, a fundamental christian losing their faith for a number of reasons, but it does happen.

While it’s not as common as it once was (except that it is growing in Hispanic Catholic circles), you are aware of the Catholic Charismatic movement, aren’t you?

I consider the Charismatics to be their own thing and not representative of Catholicism as a whole.

On a side note, I sort of can’t believe I’m actually mounting a defense of Catholicism in this thread. :stuck_out_tongue: I suppose it’s because I think that if Catholicism were actually a cult as described by the parameters in the OP, I’d have been completely ostracized and cut off from my family when I decided to quit going to Mass, and instead everyone was pretty “meh” about it. I get the occasional stealth copy of Catholic Digest magazine mailed to my house from my mom, but that’s about it.

The situation in Kiryas Joel (and also New Square, NY, to a lesser extent) is not really analogous to Catholicism thusly: if a teenaged kid in a Catholic family decides that they’re just not going to go to Mass anymore, the deacons and the parish priest don’t descend on his household, try to force him into compliance and encourage his family to kick him out and banish him from the home without regard to where he’ll end up if he refuses.

The Catholic Church also encourages higher education, research and knowledge, running colleges all over the country, where 41% of Kiryas Joel residents, born and raised in the U.S. don’t even speak English, because they’re never taught it at home nor in the Kiryas Joel schools where classes are conducted in Yiddish.

The Catholic Church also doesn’t insist that families expand themselves beyond their point to financially subsist without outside assistance. 2/3 of Kiryas Joel families are below the federal poverty line and more than 40% are on food stamps as a direct result of community edicts to marry young, shun any family planning (including contraceptives and the NFP acceptable to the Catholic church) and to become single income households once children begin to arrive.

Nor does the Catholic Church run any enclaves where the bishop or archbishop has to approve candidates for town offices, with uncharacteristically dense housing, running the public school (at least in the U.S.) And when a bishop hands down a ruling that women shouldn’t drive cars and that the public buses of the enclave should be gender-segregated, brace yourselves for the firestorm of the century, and rightly so.

Kiryas Joel calls itself a Hasidic oasis, but it’s really a modern day shtetl.