Unorthodox

Unorthodox

The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots

Book - 2012 | 1st Simon & Schuster hardcover ed
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Traces the author's upbringing in the Satmar Hasidic community in the Williamsburg area of Brooklyn, New York, describing the strict rules that governed her life, her arranged marriage at the age of seventeen, and the birth of her son, which led to her plan to leave and forge her own path in life.
Publisher: New York : Simon & Schuster, 2012
Edition: 1st Simon & Schuster hardcover ed
ISBN: 9781439187005
1439187002
9781439187012
1439187010
Branch Call Number: B FELDMA,D
Characteristics: 254 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm

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u
uncommonreader
Feb 06, 2017

This book paints the picture of an extremely patriarchal and conservative Hasidic community in Brooklyn which Feldman leaves in order to participate in Western culture. I disliked the book for the same reason I disliked Ali's "Infidels", about her escape from an extremely patriarchal and conservative Muslim community in Somalia. Both cases were stories of personal liberation with no thought of the context or plight of those who remained, with the purpose of embracing a consumer society and not for reasons of values.

d
djaf
Sep 19, 2015

I really like her writing style: I also appreciate the detailing of her thoughts and feelings as well as the look she provides into the Hasidic community.

meganmartinphoto Apr 07, 2014

A fascinating insiders view of this mysterious community. I couldn't put it down. I live within blocks of where most of this takes place and for years I've been endlessly curious about what life is like behind closed doors. I especially like when she gives specific locations-it makes me a little giddy to share in the secrets when I pass by places like the mitzvah. It is well written for someone who was denied a traditional American education during her formative years. For those who complain about the lack of comments or response from her family and former community-you should know that it's most likely that she has been completely shunned by the Satmar community for rebelling and leaving. Members who leave ultra-orthodox religions are often completely cut off. Which makes it that much more difficult to leave in the first place. Bravo to Deborah for her bravery.

runfastread Mar 18, 2014

Definitely an eye-opener! This sect of Hasidic Judaism is as mysterious as it is terrifying... and in this memoir, Deborah Feldman tells us exactly what it's like to be trapped in an uber-fundamentalist religion, trapped by family and tradition with no way out.... Harrowing and revealing. A story you won't soon forget!

MaxineML Dec 06, 2013

This was an eminently readable memoir. Although brief at times, with certain passages you wished had more explanation and more depth, I would not hesitate to recommend this to anyone.
I wished for more introspection in certain parts of the book - especially near the end. Although the author is more than aware of her own inner life, she seems strangely reluctant to acknowledge that other people have inner lives too, and that can change situations dramatically. I wished that there were more recollections of conversations between people as that is one of the only ways we get into the heads of others in her family and her community. To those who are accusing Feldman of lying and leaving things out of this memoir I can only say: It is a memoir and not an autobiography. Not your memoir. Not mine. It will not reflect your own experiences of Judaism and religion because it cannot. It is not your story.
To those who say that this is an attack on Hasidic Judaism I can only say: This is a memoir. It is her opinion of what occurred to her as she was growing up and living in the community. I did not read it as a screed against all Jews, instead I feel that it condemns all of those communities that value adherence to rules and authority over freedom of thought, independence, individuality and autonomy of self. And I do not think that that criticism can only apply to fringe Jewish communities.

Although you can feel the author's youth come through in many of the passages (both because she is young, and because she is writing about things that occurred when she was even younger) it is still a well-crafted piece of work. I can only assume that her writing skills will improve as she gets older. All-in-all a good book, a great memoir – harrowing, depressing, poignant, reassuring and life-affirming. I wish only the best of luck to Deborah Feldman in her current life and with her future projects.

v
VRMurphy
Sep 03, 2013

Above average in terms of a slice of an unusual (to the mainstream) life. The writing is at an acceptable level for a memoir, but the book would have benefited from tighter editing, to remove some repetitious segments. It would be interesting to incorporate some comments, perhaps as an endnote, from her grandparents and her husband.

Jane60201 Apr 18, 2013

A really interesting book about a religious community with extreme ideas, especially about the role of women. If you think the Muslims are strict, just get a look at these folks, who are right here in the U.S.

elvisgirl Jan 08, 2013

The book was very interesting as I never knew anything about the Hasidic community. it was a good read.

u
Ubalstecha
Jan 01, 2013

The Hasidic community of New York is, by now, fairly commonplace. We see them as background characters in movies, sitcoms, even rock videos, but how much do we really know about this closed community.

Enter Deborah Feldman, who grew up within the Hasidic community. From birth she seemed marked for difference. Her father was mentally ill, and her mother left the community because she was a lesbian. Deborah, who wants to read books and speak English, seems constrained by the life of a Hasidic girl and longs to be free. She thinks marriage will be her ticket to freedom, but she quickly realizes that it is just another cage.

This memoir is a quick read, but it gives you a fascinating and insightful view of a woman's place in an ultra-orthodox religious community. The view here is no different than that of orthodox Christians, Muslims, Hindus, etc. Any group that uses religion to repress women has a culture very similar to this one. The names and actual practices may be different, but the core belief that women are inferior and need to be controlled lest they lead the men astray carries through.

You should read this. Absolutely fascinating.

Neptune1020 Aug 01, 2012

I could not put this book down. A very interesting look at the world which Deborah Feldman left and the world that she now lives in. I agree though that I would have liked to find out how her ex-husband reacted and whether he still sees his son.

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Neptune1020 Aug 01, 2012

Neptune1020 thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

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