by UnHerd
Sunday, 26
September 2021

Louise Leach: my journey from secular to Orthodox

The former singer tells her story to Freddie Sayers — and it's the opposite to the one you'll see on Netflix
by UnHerd

Over the last year, two big Netflix series have featured women in Orthodox Jewish communities. ‘Unorthodox’ told the fictional story of a young woman from a Hasidic community in Brooklyn, outside New York, who escapes to Europe to join her mother and pursue a career in music. ‘My Orthodox Life’, tracks a real life fashion entrepreneur who begins her life in the orthodox community but decides, rather like the heroine of Unorthodox, to leave the community behind.

In each case, the communities are presented as somewhat sexist, conformist, stifling — and the happy ending consists of the women leaving them behind and being liberated to pursue their dreams in the secular world outside.

But what about the opposite journey? It may not be featured in Netflix shows, but what about people who begin life in the secular modern world and choose to move into an orthodox community?

On this week’s UnHerdTV, Freddie Sayers meets Louise Leach, a former singer and star of the talent competition ‘Pop Stars’ who decided to join the Orthodox Jewish community after years of living what she describes as ‘the high life’. 

She tells Freddie about her journey, what her commitments mean to her, and her hopes and fears for her five children growing up in the fast-paced, ultra secular city of London.

Thanks to Louise and we hope you enjoy.

Join the discussion

  • Fascinating to listen to this lady – clearly a warm, open and honest individual – in counterpoint to the prevailing ‘woke’ sentiments of secular (il-)liberal life. She, a strict orthodox adherent of what is often portrayed as one of the more ‘closed’ religions, seems to me much more open and accepting than most of the culture voices we hear in the media today.
    Perhaps the deeper message here is that secularism is ultimately a moral vacuum, one which nature abhors. It is in this vacuum that we find the sweeping debris of religiosity – face coverings as a type of habit, critical race theory as a form of flagellantism, vaccination mandates as a form of crusade… – yet haphazard, lacking the codification and grounding of a formalised religion.
    I would not be surprised if, in the coming years, we see the return of formal religions to the mainstream, for:
    “Is not the greatness of [killing God] too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it?” (125, The Gay Science, F Nietzsche)
    Perhaps the madman with the lantern came too soon, (as he himself ponders)? Perhaps we are not yet worthy of secularism. Perhaps we never will be.

  • Fantastic interview. Mirrors my own journey back to Christianity, albeit not one of belief in the literal truth of the stories, more the example of Christ’s life and death. Life has to be about something other than work and money and self, none of which makes you happy at the end of the day. I want a common system of belief, a sense of community, a life where gratitude, awe, understanding of duty and love are prioritised above everything else.

  • This was very interesting to watch – thank you. It makes me think how the dominant paradigm wokeism is unable to prescribe what ought to happen, say, unlike Orthodox Judaism which has a clear set of rules, precedents and traditions. Wokeism is only able to describe what shouldn’t happen (i.e. oppression), and the only direction it can offer is being pro-woke (e.g. antifa).

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