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I was AMISH - AMA
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JMM-uc




 
 
 
 

Post Sun, Feb 15 2015, 5:07 am
EDIT: I was NOT Amish but one of the amothers that joined the discussion was.
I changed the title because this seems more fitting.
This is really fascinating, thanks so much amother for sharing with us and answering our questions!
. . . * . . . . . . * . . . . . . . * . . . .


I just recently watched a documentary about the Amish people. And I felt a strange connection, like we're not that different from them. Obviously our beliefs are different but to the outside world we seem just as cult like. I thought it was admirable how strong they were and how much they were willing to sacrifice for their beliefs.

What do you think?


Last edited by JMM-uc on Mon, Feb 16 2015, 4:38 am; edited 2 times in total
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chani8




 
 
 
 

Post Sun, Feb 15 2015, 8:33 am
I think they're a cult. Brainwashing the children at a young age. Sheltering the women and children so much so that they basically have no choice but to commit to cognitive dissonance and remain the way they've been raised, religiously, philosophically, culturally, socially. Kind of like being trapped without realizing it. Ask anyone trying to leave the charedi community. They'd understand. It's too hard to leave, so they make threads about "living frum but not believing."
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amother




 

Post Sun, Feb 15 2015, 8:42 am
chani8 wrote:
I think they're a cult. Brainwashing the children at a young age. Sheltering the women and children so much so that they basically have no choice but to commit to cognitive dissonance and remain the way they've been raised, religiously, philosophically, culturally, socially. Kind of like being trapped without realizing it. Ask anyone trying to leave the charedi community. They'd understand. It's too hard to leave, so they make threads about "living frum but not believing."

Are you implying that being chareidi is also a cult?
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JMM-uc




 
 
 
 

Post Sun, Feb 15 2015, 8:58 am
Chani, I'm confused. Are you talking about the Amish or charadi Jews? (why would non charadi be any different?)
I'm charadi, I feel like they both sound like cults
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southernbubby




 
 
 
 

Post Sun, Feb 15 2015, 9:07 am
I once decided to see for myself what their lives were like so I took my kids and drove 3 hours into the middle of Michigan and into a little Amish town called Claire Mich. I decided to visit a family who had a little store on the premises and we spent a few hours getting to know each other's lifestyles. Anyone remember Torah cards? Well my kids had brought their collection along for the ride and the Amish loved them. They introduced us to their horses and my kids loved that too. When I tried to use the bathroom, however, the light would not turn on. Guess what! It had to be gas lit! There was no electric wiring in the entire house which was very old. The people were friendly and the women were barefoot and pregnant. They seemed very happy and their home was lovely (no pictures on walls) with that beautiful Amish furniture that lasts forever. They had a beautiful garden as well and the men liked to fish. Their life was simple and slow paced but family oriented and full.

I also got to know some Amish during my youngest child's 157 day NICU stay. Because it was a regional hospital, Amish children were sent there. They are nice people who love their way of life and those who don't love it, leave. One mother was dedicated to taking care of her teenage son who had cancer, even though there were 9 other kids at home. Apparently there is lots of community support for those situations.

In nursing school, I made friends with 2 Mennonite girls which is an offshoot from Amish. My friend Emma had hair to her toes which she kept under a white religious type bonnet and she wore nerdy home sewn clothes and no make up or jewelry. I looked for her for years after nursing school ended and finally located her and friended her on FB. She is no longer a member of that religious order, which was surprising because her father was a minister but he died while she was a student. She apparently gave up her faith, after a girl that she was close with committed suicide and no one would tell her what happened. The girl who committed suicide was not Mennonite or Amish.
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etky




 
 
 
 

Post Sun, Feb 15 2015, 9:43 am
As far as I understand the Amish are not a cult. They lack certain major characteristics that would have them fall into that category: charismatic leaders are not central to their lifestyle or belief system, there is no misabuse or comandeering of people's private financial resources, no recruitment of outsiders, people may leave freely - I understood that it is common for young adults to be asked to choose at age 18 if they want to remain in the sect or not. Their teachings are not esoteric or constantly being revised by their religious leaders at whim. Yes, they are ultra-conservative and insular in the extreme - much more insular than any Jewish form of ultra-orthodoxy but that doesn't make them a cult.
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amother




 

Post Sun, Feb 15 2015, 9:45 am
I actually grew up Amish (I converted, naturally). There are parts of the culture that are somewhat like a cult. The fact that they impose unrealistic views and the idea that there is no way but their way. I have read the whole bible and no where does it say the Amish way is the only way! There are many parts that are like Jewish culture, the sense of belonging, the sameness of everyone, the insularity. Young people are allowed to experience the world to its entirety in their running around years, we even took trips, wore English clothing, the works. Of course yoiu needed to be up the next morning to help with the family chores and be a productive member of the group.

I miss the quietness, the sense of togetherness that we Amish shared. If there was a problem you could count on 5 offers of help. Your husband wouldn't work, the brethren would remind him of his duties and keep on him to make sure your family was well cared for. Everyone did what they could and we all made sure they succeeded at it.

I left because I was disillusioned by the constant badgering about my kapp not on right, my apron too stiff, not stiff enough, the nitpicking drove me away.
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marina




 
 
 
 

Post Sun, Feb 15 2015, 9:51 am
amother wrote:
I actually grew up Amish (I converted, naturally). There are parts of the culture that are somewhat like a cult. The fact that they impose unrealistic views and the idea that there is no way but their way. I have read the whole bible and no where does it say the Amish way is the only way! There are many parts that are like Jewish culture, the sense of belonging, the sameness of everyone, the insularity. Young people are allowed to experience the world to its entirety in their running around years, we even took trips, wore English clothing, the works. Of course yoiu needed to be up the next morning to help with the family chores and be a productive member of the group.

I miss the quietness, the sense of togetherness that we Amish shared. If there was a problem you could count on 5 offers of help. Your husband wouldn't work, the brethren would remind him of his duties and keep on him to make sure your family was well cared for. Everyone did what they could and we all made sure they succeeded at it.

I left because I was disillusioned by the constant badgering about my kapp not on right, my apron too stiff, not stiff enough, the nitpicking drove me away.


What form of Judaism do you practice now?
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chani8




 
 
 
 

Post Sun, Feb 15 2015, 10:13 am
JustMeMyself wrote:
Chani, I'm confused. Are you talking about the Amish or charadi Jews? (why would non charadi be any different?)
I'm charadi, I feel like they both sound like cults


I was agreeing that they are both cult like, but as etky pointed out, according to the strict definition of a cult, the fact that people can theoretically just walk away, by definition means neither are a cult. But tell that to anyone who left or wants to leave. In both religions.

I stand my ground on this, not to charedi bash, but to support the many OTD'ers who've BTDT and required anti-cult type debriefing to get over it.
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amother




 

Post Sun, Feb 15 2015, 10:24 am
People who wish to leave their form of Orthodoxy are not forced by anyone to stay. They feel socially pressured into conforming, and the emotional costs of leaving are high.

But there is no intimidation (if you leave we will kill your family) and no extortion (if you join our community you must hand over your life's savings) etc. In most communities, adherence to the leader's words is a personal choice. I didn't ask the rebbe for shidduch advice, but I did go in for a bracha once my engagement was finalized. In a cult the leader would decide who marries whom (or doesn't).

Anyone willing to have their family be embarrassed with their choices can do whatever they please. Most people choose not to hurt their family, and stay of their own free will despite being unhappy.

How does this equal a cult?

And the Amish are certainly not a cult either.
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Petra




 
 
 
 

Post Sun, Feb 15 2015, 10:28 am
I don't think the Amish are a cult. Insular, yes. I admire the simpler, farming life. The rolls are well defined. With any culture, there are problems though.
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zaq




 
 
 
 

Post Sun, Feb 15 2015, 10:36 am
The Amish community is a fundamentalist group but not a cult, lacking most if not all of the hallmarks of a cult. There is much to admire in the tightly-knit communal way of life, but I can see how it would be stifling for an independent thinker, someone with a thirst for secular knowledge beyond the realm of farming and small craftsmanship, or someone with a yen for world travel. Traveling to another Amish community in another country does not count.

I am mildly amused that the Amish manage to find religio-legal loopholes to make their lives easier. They cannot possess electric appliances--but they can own a gas-fired fridge or rent space in an English neighbor's electric freezer. They cannot own motor vehicles--but they can travel in an English neighbor's car service.

There is a sizable body of Amish-inspired novels that reflect what is probably a mildly romanticized view of Amish life. When you live in a tightly-knit group, everyone is in your face all the time and privacy is hard to come by. You have to take the bad with the good. If you want the unstinting help, you have to put up with the lack of privacy. If you want the one-for-all-all-for-one, you cannot espouse rugged individualism. If you have the personality for that kind of lifestyle, great, and if not, get out.

This, I think, is the saddest part of the whole Amish social system. On the one hand I understand that a small group to whom change is anathema (except for see above, paragraph 2) cannot "afford" to retain members who do not subscribe to the official party line--and yet. Children, brothers, sisters, cousins are being thrown to the wolves for daring to think differently. I would imagine that the ones who leave are the really strong ones; those who lack sufficient courage, self-reliance or the power of their convictions--or whose scruples will not allow them to turn their backs on their families-- would most likely stay and be unhappy.

.
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Rubber Ducky




 
 
 
 

Post Sun, Feb 15 2015, 11:04 am
amother wrote:
I actually grew up Amish (I converted, naturally). ...


I'd love to see you start an "I grew up Amish, ask me anything!" thread. Are you willing to answer questions on a new thread or on this one?
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amother




 

Post Sun, Feb 15 2015, 11:26 am
I thought it was interesting that Amish boys and girls go to school together, play games together, and basically learn to interact with one another from a young age. They are also allowed to court and decide who they want to court/marry, have mixed sessions in church during rumspringa, and the women are allowed to drive the horse and buggies. The men also learn a trade after they leave school (not sure about the women). The women dont shave their heads after marriage and I dont think they do the whole mikva/taharas hamishpacha rituals either. I grew up Satmar so in these scenarious felt that the Amish have more freedom than us.
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amother




 

Post Sun, Feb 15 2015, 11:48 am
marina wrote:
What form of Judaism do you practice now?


I am MO...like my mothers parents.
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amother




 

Post Sun, Feb 15 2015, 11:51 am
Rubber Ducky wrote:
I'd love to see you start an "I grew up Amish, ask me anything!" thread. Are you willing to answer questions on a new thread or on this one?


I am willing to answer question in this thread. Or I could start a new one, if yoiu think that it is better. I wanted to point out that I am anon because several people know of my background and don't necessarily want them to know my screen name.
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southernbubby




 
 
 
 

Post Sun, Feb 15 2015, 11:53 am
amother wrote:
I am willing to answer question in this thread. Or I could start a new one, if yoiu think that it is better. I wanted to point out that I am anon because several people know of my background and don't necessarily want them to know my screen name.


sounds like your Jewish mom married an Amish man or both were Jewish and converted to Amish
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zaq




 
 
 
 

Post Sun, Feb 15 2015, 11:57 am
amother wrote:
I am MO...like my mothers parents.

So lefi halacha you are Jewish from birth. Was your giyur something you felt you had to do for yourself to make your change of status seem real to you, or did rabbanim tell you you had to do it?

How does an MO young lady wind up becoming Amish of all things?
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Rubber Ducky




 
 
 
 

Post Sun, Feb 15 2015, 11:58 am
OK, great! probably a new thread would be best. Either way, I have questions.

What did you know about Jews and Judaism while growing up?

What attracted you to Yiddishkeit?

Do you feel accepted?

Do you have contact with your Amish family?
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a jewish woman




 
 
 
 

Post Sun, Feb 15 2015, 11:59 am
southernbubby wrote:
sounds like your Jewish mom married an Amish man or both were Jewish and converted to Amish

If her mother was jewish then she would automatically be jewish as well so why did she have to convert to judaism?
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