The Forward MISSION

Why are we doing this?

We are working to build an organization to serve people who have left or want to leave their ultra-Orthodox and hasidic communities in Canada (and specifically Montreal).

Not only are they highly underserved, they have often lost or at risk of losing their family and friends. They lack the knowledge, skills, and contacts to find support, services, and gain the skills needed to succeed. Our mission is to provide the support, social and educational services that are presently unavailable or inaccessible to these individuals.

What is our vision?

Since people leaving these communities often find themselves isolated and alienated, we want to provide everything they need to become happy, productive and contributing members to society as whole.

We believe firmly that secular education, civil rights and personal freedoms should be available to anyone who desires them. We will work to make these goals a reality.

Why is this issue important?

Former members of the Hasidic and ultra-Orthodox communities are nearly always at a serious disadvantage. Only a very small percentage have received secular educations, know how to read and write languages other than Hebrew and Yiddish, and are capable of doing basic arithmetic. Much rarer is an uncensored view of history, personal rights and the humanities in general.

They rarely hold high school diplomas, let alone the ability to qualify for higher education.

They are often engaged to be married before they reach the age of 18, and once married, become parents before they can think for themselves. When the desire to leave is realized, they are often embroiled in custody battles, with entire communities banding together to ensure that the children won't be influenced ("corrupted") by the spouse who has chosen to leave.

Substance, abuse, depression, anxiety, and all too often suicide are very common among those who have taken this drastic step.

Those fighting for their personal freedoms should not have to face their ex-communities alone. And certainly not be left alone in the world.

What are our key objectives?

Our key objectives are education, integration and support.

We work with individuals on a case by case basis to make sure that basic needs are met. Shelter, food and security are our top priorities.

For those have acquired these basic needs, with some stability in their transitions, we help our members gain entry into educational programs, whether on a vocational or university level.

In the longer term we expect to establish a safehouse for members in need, as well as a scholarship fund to ensure that all our members can be happy and healthy contributors to the community of their own choosing.

"Forward has been a life-saver. Literally. They helped me find an apartment, get me into an adult education program and when things got rough, I had a community behind me. That was empowering."

- A Forward member

How can you help?

We are happy to hear that you'd like to help. As a young organization, every little bit helps. If you identify with our cause and want to contribute, while a donation is always appreciated, there are many other ways to help.