Finding Ourselves in the Crowd: What 18 Out-of-the-Box Jews Can Teach Us About Individuality in Orthodoxy

Being an Orthodox Jew is a balancing act.

On the one hand, we’re supposed to be part of a community, which means we have to fit in. On the other hand, Torah teaches that each of us has a unique soul and purpose in the world, which means we have to recognize and affirm our individuality. Doing both is a challenge. Some of us are so into being unique that we’re unwilling to conform at all. Many more of us, however, get so caught up in conforming that we forget how to be ourselves.

Finding Ourselves in the Crowd profiles 18 highly committed, out-of-the-box, Orthodox individuals who decided to do something different and unconventional. Thanks to being true to themselves, they’ve reaped tremendous spiritual satisfaction, often contributing greatly to others as well. At the same time, they’re full members of their communities, proving that you needn’t forfeit your individuality to be part of the crowd.

Within traditional Jewish observance, there are as many paths as there are people. To build a truly rewarding life, we must have the courage to choose our own path, join a community where we feel comfortable, and then be who we are. Finding Ourselves in the Crowd will inspire you to do just that.

[Finding Ourselves in the Crowd] eloquently conveys a message that needs to be heard: the need to discover yourself, to tap into the unique, irreplaceable person that you are, and to make your individuality the foundation of your avodat Hashem.
Rabbi Yitzchak Breitowitz, Yeshivat Ohr Somayach, Jerusalem
Each Jew possesses a unique shoresh haneshamah and is placed in this world to reveal and actualize his [or her] own flavor of avodas HaSHeM, not merely to copy others. [...] I commend the author on another important work for the mature, intelligent, growth-seeking Jew.
Rabbi Yitzchak Berkovits, Yeshivat Aish HaTorah, Jerusalem
Finding ways to include “out-of-the-box” thinkers in our Orthodox communities doesn’t just give us music we like to listen to and museums we like to visit. It feeds the souls of our fellow Jews and keeps our community whole. Manolson’s book can therefore not only serve as a guide for the “creative types” among us, but a reminder of what we can lose if we don’t make space for them.
Rebecca Klempner, Jewish Home LA

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