Health concerns of young Israelis moving from the ultra-orthodox to the secular community: vulnerabilities associated with transition

  • Baruch Velan | The Gertner Institute for Epidemiology and Health Policy Research, Sheba Medical Center, Israel.
  • Ronit Pinchas-Mizrachi Ramat Gan Academic College, Ramat Gan, Israel.


Many young Israelis leave the Ultra-Orthodox religious community to join the secular world. In this study we examine health considerations of ex-Orthodox (ExOr) individuals in an attempt to define their vulnerabilities and needs.12 young adults were asked to relate to health problems that trouble the ExOr community. The semi-structured interviews were analyzed qualitatively to identify relevant motives. Interviewees indicated that the ExOr population could be affected by mental health problems, including stress and depression, by sexual health problems, and by risks related to substance abuse and hazardous behavior. Interviewees suggested that these problems are associated with difficulties encountered prior and during the transition process, as well as with the hardships of acculturation and assimilation in the secular world. Comparisons to previous findings on the health of immigrants, young adults and LGBT populations suggest that the process of transition per-se could engender vulnerability and trigger health problems.



PlumX Metrics


Download data is not yet available.


Lasser KE, Himmelstein DU, Woolhandler S. Access to care, health status, and health disparities in the United States and Canada: results of a cross-national population-based survey. Am J Public Health 2006;96:1300-7. DOI:

Frohlich KL, Potvin L. Transcending the known in public health practice: the inequality paradox: the population approach and vulnerable populations. Am J Public Health 2008;98:216-21. DOI:

Vanderbilt AA, Isringhausen KT, VanderWielen LM, et al. Health disparities among highly vulnerable populations in the United States: a call to action for medical and oral health care. Med Educ Online 2013;26:1-3. DOI:

Marmot M. Social determinants of health inequalities. Lancet 2005;365:1099-104. DOI:

Slaets JP. Vulnerability in the elderly: frailty. Med Clin North Am 2006;90:593-601. DOI:

Sen G, Ostlin P. Gender inequity in health: why it exists and how we can change it. Glob Public Health 2008;3:1-12. DOI:

Shi L, Stevens GD. Vulnerability and unmet health care needs. The influence of multiple risk factors. J Gen Intern Med 2005; 20:148-54. DOI:

Epel-Baron O, Kaplan G, Moran M. Perceived discrimination and health-related quality of life among Arabs and Jews in Israel: a population-based survey. BMC Public Health 2010;10:282. DOI:

Stolovy T, Levy YM, Doron A, Melamed Y. Culturally sensitive mental health care: a study of contemporary psychiatric treatment for ultra-orthodox Jews in Israel. Int J Soc Psychiatry 2013;59:819-23. DOI:

Isralowitz R, Reznik A. Russian speaking immigrants: drug use, infectious disease and related health behavior. J Immigr Minor Health 2014;16:1311-5. DOI:

Jaffe A, Giveon S, Wulffhart L, et al. Diabetes among Ethiopian immigrants to Israel: exploring the effects of migration and ethnicity on diabetes risk. PLoS One 2016;11:e0157354. DOI:

Putz U. Escape from Israel’s ultra-Orthodox: the high price of religious defection. Der Spiegel 2010. Available from:

Biewener AK. Secularization in the Holy Land: Challenges for the State- Secularism and Nationalism in Israel. Int Relat Diplomacy 2018;4:718-28.

Davidman L, Greil AL. Characters in search of a script: The exit narratives of formerly ultra‐orthodox Jews. J Sci Stud Rel 2007;46:201-16. DOI:

Berger R. Challenges and coping strategies in leavening an ultra-Orthodox community. Qual Social Work 2015;14:670-86. DOI:

Hookway NS, Habibis D. Losing my religion: Managing identity in a post-Jehovah’s Witness world. J Sociol 2015;51:843-56. DOI:

Hinderaker A, O’Connor A. The long road out: Exit stories from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Commun Stud 2015;66:509-27. DOI:

Park MJ, Paul-Mulye T, Adams SH, et al. The health status of young adults in the United States. J Adolesc Health 2006;39:305-17. DOI:

Frankenthaler L. Dialogical deconversion; undercover infidelity understanding. J Rel Soc 2015;17:1-17.

Castañeda H, Holmes SM, Madrigal DS, et al. Immigration as a social determinant of health. Annu Rev Public Health 2015;18:375-92. DOI:

Fuller CB, Chang DF, Rubin LR. Sliding under the radar: Passing and power among sexual minorities. J LGBT Issues Counsel 2009;3:128-51. DOI:

Yarns BC, Abrams JM, Meeks TW, Sewell DD. The mental health of older LGBT adults. Curr Psychiatry Rep 2016;18:1-11. DOI:

Giorgi A. The theory, practice, and evaluation of the phenomenological method as a qualitative research procedure. J Phenomenol 1997;28:235-60. DOI:

Rosmarin DH, Pargament KI, Flannelly KJ. Do spiritual struggles predict poorer physical/mental health among Jews? Int J Psychol Rel 2009;19:244-58. DOI:

Willson M, Daly M. Competitiveness, risk taking, and violence: the young male syndrome. Ethol Sociobiol 1985;6:59-73. DOI:

Glassne B, Berg B. How Jews avoid alcohol problems. Am Sociol Rev 1980;45:647-64. DOI:

Hurvitz-Prinz A. Sex and sexuality in formerly Ultra-Orthodox Jews: defining sexual health. Smiths ScholarWorks 2014. Available from:

Lehmann D, Siebzehner B. Power, boundaries and institutions: Marriage in ultra-Orthodox Judaism. Eur J Sociol 2009;50:273-308. DOI:

Kirmayer LJ, Narasiah L, Munoz M, et al. Common mental health problems in immigrants and refugees: general approach in primary care. CMAJ 2011;183:E959-67. DOI:

Pernice R, Brook J. Refugees’ and immigrants’ mental health: Association of demographic and post-immigration factors. ‏J Social Psychol 1966;136:511-9. DOI:

Alegría M, Álvarez K, DiMarzio K. Immigration and mental health. Curr Epidemiol Rep 2017;4:145-55. DOI:

Forte A, Trobia F, Gualtieri F, et al. Suicide risk among immigrants and ethnic minorities: a literature overview. Int J Environ Res Public Health 2018;15:E1438. DOI:

Chakraborty A, McManus S, Brugha TS, et al. Mental health of the non-heterosexual population of England. Br J Psychiatry 2011;198:143-8. DOI:

Kessler RC, Berglund P, Demler O, et al. Lifetime prevalence and age-of-onset distributions of DSM-IV disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication. Arch Gen Psychiatry 2005;62:593-602. DOI:

CDC Violence and homicide among youth - Gateway to health. 2017. Available from:

Gibbons FX, Gerrard M. Predicting young adults’ health risk behavior. J Personal Soc Psych 1995;69:505-17. DOI:

Donovan C, McEwan R. A review of the literature examining the relationship between alcohol use and HIV-related sexual risk-taking in young people. Addiction 1995; 90:319-28. DOI:

O'Hare T, Van Tran T. Substance abuse among Southeast Asians in the U.S: Implications for practice and research. Soc Work Health Care 1998;26:69-80. DOI:

Schiff M, Rahav G, Teichman M. Israel 2000: Immigration and gender differences in alcohol consumption. Am J Addict 2005;14:234-47. DOI:

Hughes TL, Eliason M. Substance use and abuse in lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender populations. J Primary Prevent 2002;22:263-98. DOI:

Du H, Li X. Acculturation and HIV-related sexual behaviors among international migrants: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Health Psychol Rev 2015;9:103-22. DOI:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CDC analysis provides new look at disproportionate impact of HIV and syphilis among U.S. gay and bisexual men. 2010. Available from:

Khan MR, Kaufman JS, Pence BW, et al. Depression transmitted sexually infection, and sexual risk behavior among young adults in the United States. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med 2009;163:644-52. DOI:

Newcomb ME, Clerkin EM, Mustanski B. Sensation seeking moderates the effects of alcohol and drug use prior to sex on sexual risk in young men who have sex with men AIDS. Behav 2011;15:565-75. DOI:

Bender DE, Castro D. Explaining the birth weight paradox: Latina immigrants’ perceptions of resilience and risk. J Immigr Health 2000;2:155-73. DOI:

Meyer IH. Resilience in the study of minority stress and health of sexual and gender minorities. Psychol Sexual Orient Gender Diversity 2015;2:209-13. DOI:

Haddadi P, Besharat MA. Resilience, vulnerability and mental health. Procedia Soc Behav Sci 2010;5:639-42. DOI:

Garmezy N, Masten AS, Tellegen A. The study of stress and competence in children: a building block for developmental. Psychopathol Child Dev 1984;55:97-111. DOI:

Original Articles
Mental health, Sexual health, Substance abuse, Risky behavior, Vulnerable population, Immigrant’s health, LGBT health, Religion
  • Abstract views: 896

  • PDF: 398
How to Cite
Velan, Baruch, and Ronit Pinchas-Mizrachi. 2019. “Health Concerns of Young Israelis Moving from the Ultra-Orthodox to the Secular Community: Vulnerabilities Associated With Transition”. Qualitative Research in Medicine and Healthcare 3 (1).