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Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots - Deborah Feldman
Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots
by: (author)
2.73 65
In the tradition of Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s Infidel and Carolyn Jessop’s Escape, Unorthodox is a captivating story about a young woman determined to live her own life at any cost. The Satmar sect of Hasidic Judaism is as mysterious as it is intriguing to outsiders. In this arresting memoir, Deborah... show more
In the tradition of Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s Infidel and Carolyn Jessop’s Escape, Unorthodox is a captivating story about a young woman determined to live her own life at any cost. The Satmar sect of Hasidic Judaism is as mysterious as it is intriguing to outsiders. In this arresting memoir, Deborah Feldman reveals what life is like trapped within a religious tradition that values silence and suffering over individual freedoms. The child of a mentally disabled father and a mother who abandoned the community while her daughter was still a toddler, Deborah was raised by her strictly religious grandparents, Bubby and Zeidy. Along with a rotating cast of aunts and uncles, they enforced customs with a relentless emphasis on rules that governed everything from what Deborah could wear and to whom she could speak, to what she was allowed to read. As she grew from an inquisitive little girl to an independent-minded young woman, stolen moments reading about the empowered literary characters of Jane Austen and Louisa May Alcott helped her to imagine an alternative way of life. She had no idea how to seize this dream that seemed to beckon to her from the skyscrapers of Manhattan, but she was determined to find a way. The tension between Deborah’s desires and her responsibilities as a good Satmar girl grew more explosive until, at the age of seventeen, she found herself trapped in a sexually and emotionally dysfunctional marriage to a man she had met for only thirty minutes before they became engaged. As a result, she experienced debilitating anxiety that was exacerbated by the public shame of having failed to immediately consummate her marriage and thus serve her husband. But it wasn’t until she had a child at nineteen that Deborah realized more than just her own future was at stake, and that, regardless of the obstacles, she would have to forge a path—for herself and her son—to happiness and freedom. *** From UNorthodox: I have secrets too. Maybe Bubby knows about them, but she won’t say anything about mine if I don’t say anything about hers. Or perhaps I have only imagined her complicity; there is a chance this agreement is only one-sided. Would Bubby tattle on me? I hide my books under the bed, and she hides hers in her lingerie, and once a year when Zeidy inspects the house for Passover, poking through our things, we hover anxiously, terrified of being found out. Zeidy even rifles through my underwear drawer. Only when I tell him that this is my private female stuff does he desist, unwilling to violate a woman’s privacy, and move on to my grandmother’s wardrobe. She is as defensive as I am when he rummages through her lingerie. We both know that our small stash of secular books would shock my grandfather more than a pile of chametz, the forbidden leavening, ever could. Bubby might get away with a scolding, but I would not be spared the full extent of my grandfather’s wrath. When my zeide gets angry, his long white beard seems to lift up and spread around his face like a fiery flame. I wither instantly in the heat of his scorn. “Der tumeneh shprach!” he thunders at me when he overhears me speaking to my cousins in English. An impure language, Zeidy says, acts like a poison to the soul. Reading an English book is even worse; it leaves my soul vulnerable, a welcome mat put out for the devil.
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Format: hardcover
ISBN: 9781439187005 (1439187002)
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Pages no: 272
Edition language: English
Bookstores:
Community Reviews
Written Among The Stars
Written Among The Stars rated it
4.0 Review: Unorthodox by Deborah Feldman
I’ve been a bad bad reviewer. I haven’t managed to read more than a single book this entire year. Okay, one and a half if I’m being honest…I am halfway through another. But, in my defense I did give birth and now have a 5 month old daughter. So I’ve been a teensy bit busy. But I found time to read! ...
teaandbooks
teaandbooks rated it
2.0 A compelling read, but how true is it?
Deborah Feldman was born to a mentally ill father and a mother who abandoned her at a very young age. She grew up in the household of her grandparents who are part of the Samtar sect of the Hasidic Jews and chronicles her childhood and growing up in such an environment. Some of the book seemed jus...
Shaykitteh's World of Books
Shaykitteh's World of Books rated it
5.0 Review: Unorthodox
Devoireh was born into the Satmar community in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. As a Hasidic Jew, and a woman, she gives us a look into growing up in a tight and controlled environment, where everything from your dress to your every movement throughout the day is decided by the Rebbe and enforced by not only...
UNICORN PORN FOR ALL
UNICORN PORN FOR ALL rated it
4.0
This book doubles as a memoir and as an expose of the Satmar Jewish sect, a group so conservative that they're anti-Israel because that was supposed to be returned to them by God, not by the UN. Feldman's portrayal of them is scathing, but probably fair; Satmars are, after all, like any other religi...
Romance and other things
Romance and other things rated it
4.0
Although I was deeply moved by this book (I have not read or watched any interviews by the author of the book), I am one of those who feels strangely unsettled by it. I am NOT a Hasidic Jew (I am a Jew, but not a religious one), and of course the author grew up in the community, but I cannot help bu...
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