Torah’s story and work have been featured or appeared in:

About Me

Amish Escapee. Author. Ivy League Alumna. Children’s Rights Advocate.

Author Quotes

Bios

Media Assets

When I was 11 years old, I began to plan my escape. It took me 4 years.

After a failed first attempt, I was put under Amish house arrest. My second attempt was successful.

I was born and raised traditional Amish and literally escaped in the middle of the night at age 15, so I had a chance to go to high school.

Eventually I graduated from Columbia University in New York City and published a memoir, Amish Girl in Manhattan. Now I’m attempting to overturn US Supreme Court case Wisconsin v. Yoder, so Amish kids will have the right to learn for as long as they wish.

 

I should not be here today speaking out, sharing my story, advocating that children’s human and Constitutional rights are enforced.

I shouldn’t have been able to acquire an Ivy League education––or any education beyond Amish 8th grade.

I shouldn’t be fluent in English, have a grasp of current affairs, understand my rights as an American citizen, or appreciate music and the arts.

Photo by Elijah Hurwitz (35mm film)

Did you know that an Amish child is

 

prohibited by United States federal law from

 

becoming anything but an “Amish housewife” or “farmer”?

Did you know that even YOU do not have a right to any education, according to the US federal government?

I am specifically denied the right to any of those experiences and accomplishments, simply because I was born Amish.

The Supreme Court decided that the Amish religion matters more than Amish children’s rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

And because of that ruling, millions of other American children born into insular or fundamentalist environments are suffering, too.

Order your copy today

Available in paperback, ebook and audiobook

Author Bios

Twitter Length
279 characters; 48 words

Torah Bontrager is an Amish author, escapee, and graduate of Columbia University who advocates for the right of Amish women and children to go to school beyond the 8th grade. Get free chapters of Amish Girl in Manhattan or weekly insights on how her progress affects your rights.

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Torah Bontrager is an Amish author, escapee, and graduate of Columbia University who’s been featured on Tim Ferriss’ blog and Forbes.com. She advocates for the right of Amish women and children to go to school beyond the 8th grade. Get free chapters of Amish Girl in Manhattan or her weekly Amish Insider about Amish life and your education rights.

227 characters; 38 words

Torah Bontrager is an Amish author, escapee, and graduate of Columbia University who’s been featured on Tim Ferriss’ blog and Forbes.com. Get free chapters of Amish Girl in Manhattan or her weekly Amish Insider about Amish life.

212 characters; 38 words

Torah Bontrager is an Amish author and escapee in New York City who helps people learn what life is like for Amish women and children. Get free chapters of Amish Girl in Manhattan or her weekly Amish Insider.

195 characters; 34 words

Torah Bontrager is an Amish author and escapee who helps people learn what life is like for Amish women and children. Get free chapters of Amish Girl in Manhattan or her weekly Amish Insider.

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Now an Amish author, Torah Bontrager escaped at age 15 and graduated from Columbia University. Check out her memoir Amish Girl in Manhattan  (FREE chapters).

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Torah Bontrager is the Founder of The Amish Heritage Foundation, a history-making nonprofit that empowers Amish women and children through education and informs the general public about Amish culture. Sign up for weekly insights on how their progress affects your rights.
Medium Length

“At age 15, I escaped in the middle of the night without telling anyone goodbye. I left with only what I could carry: the clothes on my back and $170 USD in my pocket. My departure was permanent.”

Torah Bontrager, born and raised traditional Amish in the US, grew up with no electricity and cars and speaks English as a second language. She’s the author of the memoir Amish Girl in Manhattan and is, to her knowledge, the first Amish escapee to graduate from an Ivy League school: Columbia University in the City of New York.

Her story and work have been featured on MTV, Tim Ferriss’ blog, Forbes.com, NPR, and HuffPost, among other outlets.

In 2018, Torah founded The Amish Heritage Foundation, which empowers Amish women and children through education. Part of Torah’s work is attempting to overturn Wisconsin v. Yoder, the 1972 US Supreme Court case that decided that the Amish religion’s rights outweigh the rights of Amish children to go to school beyond Amish 8th grade. That ruling is cited as a precedent for other religious groups and cults to also deny their children an adequate education.

Get free chapters or her weekly Amish Insider about Amish life and your education rights.

What an Amish person said:

“Torah’s work is a tribute to the resilience of the human spirit.

 

“Her fierce determination to claim her story while simultaneously not giving up on her people is what saints are made of.

“We Amish are lucky to have her.”

Author Quotes

“I was raised traditional Amish, and at age 15, I escaped in the middle of the night without telling anyone goodbye.

I left with only what I could carry: the clothes on my back and $170 USD in my pocket.

My departure was permanent.”

Torah Bontrager

Amish Girl in Manhattan (a crime memoir)

“I believe one of the reasons why no one has challenged Wisconsin v. Yoder is because it seems to be such an Amish-centric case. But it actually affects everyone: no American has the federal right to an education beyond the 8th grade, not just Amish children.”

 

Torah Bontrager

“The survivors of trauma do not have time for karma to come around.

We need justice now.”

Torah Bontrager

Amish Girl in Manhattan (a crime memoir)

Wisconsin v. Yoder is used as a precedent by many different groups who want to deprive their children of an adequate education.”

 

Torah Bontrager

“By virtue of not being educated, we Amish don’t have the resources or ability to protest or challenge Wisconsin v. Yoder. Only some of us ever exit the community. Even less of us go on to get a college degree.”

 

Torah Bontrager

“To my knowledge, I’m the first and only escapee who’s graduated from an Ivy League university. That’s an accomplishment that should never have been possible. We need someone who’s educated to take Wisconsin v. Yoder to the Supreme Court and get it overturned.”

 

Torah Bontrager

Factoids

#1

To my knowledge, I’m the first––and so far, only––Amish escapee to​ graduate​​ from ​an Ivy League school. I graduated from ​Columbia University in New York City with a BA in Philosophy.

#2

I speak English as a second language. Amish is my native tongue. I can also translate classical Tibetan and I’ve studied Italian, German, Spanish, French, Mandarin Chinese, and Russian. Language is the window into a culture’s soul. 

#3

The closest I’ve gotten to outer space––huge childhood dream––is by flying upside down over Long Island. I earned my private pilot’s certificate when I was 18.

Meet Me

Every Friday

Live Q&A • YouTube

Every Friday, I do a 30-min Q&A on YouTube. I look forward to engaging with you there if you have burning questions or concerns about Amish life, or how my work to overturn Wisconsin v. Yoder will impact your rights.

This Q&A is a safe space, intended for all of us––including myself––to learn and grow. I welcome tough questions, uncomfortable questions, and run-of-the-mill questions.

Order your copy today

Available in paperback, ebook and audiobook