Rabbinic writer and student Jericho Vincent shares a moving story

When New Yorkers land in the crosshairs of Brandon Stanton, the photographer who runs the Humans of New York photography project, their lives can change forever.

That wouldn’t be a huge change of pace for Jericho Vincent, a rabbinic student who appeared on Humans of New York on Thursday night. Following a portrait taken by Stanton, there are a series of photos from Vincent’s own collection documenting his journey from living in a Haredi Orthodox community to leaving it and reconnecting with Judaism in Romemu, a renewal congregation on the Upper West Side. One photo shows Vincent alongside Rabbi David Ingber, Romemu’s founder and spiritual leader who, like Vincent, grew up and away from orthodoxy.

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In a legend in the style of Humans of New York, Vincent describes how attending services in Romemu allowed them to reconnect with aspects of the Jewish experience that were lost.

A United Airlines passenger jet takes off with New York City as a backdrop, at Newark Liberty International Airport. (credit: CHRIS HELGREN / REUTERS)

“David provided a point of access to God that was not toxic. He taught the same texts and the same parables, ”says Vincent. But their interpretations were different. More tolerant. More progressive. During that first service we sang ‘Lecha Dodi’. I closed my eyes. And I had this vision of myself as a child, singing in my father’s synagogue. It’s almost like the two of us are singing together. We finally got permission to exist at the same time. “

The Humans of New York show is not the first time Vincent has told his story. Vincent’s memoir, “Cut Me Loose: Sin and Salvation After My Ultra-Orthodox Girlhood,” published under his old name, came out in 2014; an excerpt was published on the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. That year, New York Jewish Week selected Vincent as one of its annual “36 under 36”, recognizing his work with Footsteps, an organization that supports Jews who have left Orthodox communities.

Since then, Vincent has spoken widely on issues of abuse and trauma in Orthodox communities, has come out as non-binary, and articulated what they call gender queer theology.

“It has been revealing to find all these traces of gender bending figures in our tradition that make me feel affirmed and connected to my ancestors,” Vincent told JewishBoston earlier this year.

Last year, Vincent started rabbinical school through Aleph: Alliance for Jewish Renewal, and received a prestigious Wexner Fellowship to support his training. According to an update published by Humans of New York, Ingber wrote a letter of recommendation.

“If you found me on @humansofny, welcome!” Vincent wrote on Instagram on Thursday before offering a quick rundown of what his new followers can expect, and a preview of what lies ahead.

“I am now working on a book on intergenerational trauma and spirituality and I am also working on my rabbinical ordination,” wrote Vincent. “I post a lot about trauma / feminism / transformation / gender / spirituality / Judaism here!”

In response, a flood of appreciative comments followed from people around the world who identified as people who had a variety of relationships with religion. At least one person identified himself as “OTD”, short for “off-the-right,” a phrase that refers to people who have abandoned orthodoxy.

“Hey, another human from Otd here … thanks for sharing your story,” wrote Charlie Lewin, an artist based in the UK. “It hit close to home and I cried reading it. Much love from across the pond. “


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