I am Forbidden
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I am Forbidden

3.65 of 5 stars 3.65  ·  rating details  ·  3,141 ratings  ·  611 reviews
A family is torn apart by fierce belief and private longing in this unprecedented journey deep inside the most insular Hasidic sect, the Satmar.

Sweeping from the Central European countryside just before World War II to Paris to contemporary Williamsburg, Brooklyn, I Am Forbidden brings to life four generations of one Satmar family.
Opening in 1939 Transylvania, five-year-...more
Hardcover, 302 pages
Published May 8th 2012 by Hogarth (first published 1989)
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This is a disturbing book. Once I started listening to the audiobook, excellently narrated by Rosalyn Landor, I could do nothing else but listen to more and more ......and more still, until I reached the end! If I am to set the star rating by how urgent it was to read the book once I started, it would get five stars. But I am not giving it five stars, only four. I had to listen because I was so disturbed. I had to listen because in the beginning it was confusing. I even had to listen to the firs...more
Moira Russell
And Onan knew that the seed should not be his; and it came to pass, when he went in unto his brother's wife, that he spilled it on the ground, lest that he should give seed to his brother.

Well shit, I was totally not expecting that twist at the end. KAPOW.

I gobbled this up in one evening and -- I don't think it's a novel per se? (yeah I know that is such a useless categorization when you have books like the Odyssey and David Markson) -- it was more like a very long tale by a storyteller, or a co...more
Women’s friendships

Markovits writes of a Romanian Jewish community during World War II. They are from the Satmar sect and have very strict beliefs and traditions. There are two sets of parents, one trying to flee to safety and another attacked in their home, are murdered by fascists. Left behind are two children, one from each family, each is rescued. The boy is adopted by the family maid. She’s a Christian and tries to keep him safe by teaching him to ‘pass’ by adopting Christianity and pretend...more
Rachelle Urist
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Deborah Feldman
This novel is truly a seminal work on the topic of Jewish Fundamentalism. With unparalleled detail and poignant storytelling, this saga of a Satmar family explores and debunks the myths upon which the extreme version of Judaism we know today was founded, and it does so with a resounding clang. I found myself gripping the edge of my seat quite a few times, holding my breath while I waited to see how the characters in this novel would find self-determination. People will read this novel both becau...more
Good Book Fairy
This book took me by surprise as my hopes for it were entirely to low. Perhaps it's because I've read many books about the Hasidic Sect of Judaism but this book steps very far apart from those I've read before. This author can write and it's seems that based on her own personal history, she writes what she knows.
Although there was a slightly elusive beginning to this book and I felt like I was lost, it took no time to grab me and suck me in to this fanatical world of the Hasidic sect called the...more
Chris Blocker
I am mystified by meandering rivers. I've never seen one in person, but I've seen photos and these have grabbed my attention. Part of what makes these rivers so beautiful are their wide arcs back and forth. If you were on any point of one of these rivers, you'd see things differently. You might, at first, think the river that flowed parallel to yours was a different river that would eventually merge with your own.

Much in the same way, I Am Forbidden meanders through scenery that is beautiful hea...more
What do you do when religious law and life collide? This is a disquieting story about two young girls who have very different reactions to their religious upbringing. Beautiful, tender, and SO HEARTBREAKING. As I mentioned after reading, Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots, understanding the beginnings of the Hasidic movement makes these stories/characters much more tragic.

I have both read and heard tell that some believe this to be autobiographical. So? Either way, Anouk M...more
Those who read The Chosen will find some similarities here: there's a scholar prodigy, gematria, questioning of long-held beliefs, and the transition of a Hasidic group from Eastern Europe to America. However, here the author a better knowledge and understanding about Hassidism and Judaism than I suspect most people will have. For example, Hasids originally opposed the formation of the State of Israel and were anti-Zionism. That's not so say there isn't some explanation (eg, complete immersion t...more
As eastern Europe is fractured during World War II, the Satmar Rebbe of Transylvania makes a miraculous escape to America and begins building a new community in the Williambsurg neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York; meanwhile, those of his Transylvanian followers who survive the war are dispersed throughout Europe. Zalman Stern, his wife Hannah, and their growing family end up in Paris, where they are eventually joined by two young orphans. Josef was the only survivor of the brutal murder of his f...more
I Am Forbidden by Anouk Markovits

This novel elicited a few different and emotional reactions from me. First of all, I had some difficulty following the plot initially, I believe due to my unfamiliarity with the history and the foreign (to me) names. The beauty of the writing, paired with my personal beliefs, caused the varied emotional responses. Initially, I felt increased compassion for the characters and increased understanding of the Hasidic experience. As the story continued, I experienced...more
Bonnie Brody
I Am Forbidden by Anouk Markovits is a brilliant, poetic novel that begins during World War II in eastern Europe and ends in contemporary Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

During World War II, two children become orphaned. One, a young boy named Josef, loses his parents and sister to storm troopers and is adopted by a peasant woman in Translylvania. Her name is Florina and the two of them forge a loving bond. She renames him Anghel and baptizes him to protect him from the Nazis. In yet another scene, a you...more
The magic of Anouk Markovits' writing is that the reader, though encountering unfamiliarity, otherness, and disbelief, remains faithful to the epic story to the last page and remembers the characters when the book is returned to the shelf.

Is the genre fiction or non, memoir or autobiography? This question praises the intimate knowledge the author evidences in her writing which gives the story authenticity and weight. Intensity of feelings can result in imbalance, but I AM FORBIDDEN presents the...more
This book proves that in any religion there are extremists that take generic 'holy' text and follow it to the letter without thinking of decency to their fellow human beings. I found this book so disturbing, not only because it is a sect of my own religion, but because this really isn't a work of fiction. This is real life to those believers. And I am all for freedom of religion but those that take their beliefs over the top and it affects children....that's when I say enough. I have never under...more
Audra (Unabridged Chick)
I started this book on Friday morning and I had to make myself put it down to go to bed Friday night. I then ignored my wife Saturday morning to finish. I raced through this book because I loved the two main(ish) female characters; their world might have been alien to me but I felt like I knew them, and I had to know where they ended up.

This is essentially a family saga, beginning around World War II and ending in about 2007. Starting in Romania in the late 1920s, the story roughly follows two J...more
I wasn't sure where the story was going to go at first, but I was drawn in by the crispness of the writing and the fullness of the characters. Even though none of them are overly-descirbed, these are people you have hopes for and want them to find happiness.
The synopsis is a bit misleading as the story continues only with Mila once Atara makes a fateful decision. She doesn't reappear until almost the end of the story. We get only the life among the Hasid. I think that works well be...more
I really found this book to be emotional and it really pulled me in. It made me think about what life could be like in a different culture or religion. I found it to be very interesting. It explained some aspects of the Hasidic Jewish faith and how the people were treated during World War II. It was a wonderful story that made me feel for the characters in the book.
It starts out in World War II with the Jews being taken on trains to the concentration camps. There was the story of the boy who wat...more
Shari Larsen
As the story opens in 1939 Transylvania, a 5 year old Jewish boy, Josef, witnesses the murder of his family by the Romanian Iron Guard. He is rescued by the family's Christian maid and raised as her son. Five years later, Josef rescues a young girl, Mila, after her parents are killed by the Nazis after trying to avoid deportation.

Joseph helps Mila find the home of her father's friend, Zalman Stern, a leader in the Satmar Hasidic Jewish community. Mila is raised as a sister to Zalman's daughter A...more

I Am Forbidden, takes place in 1939 in Translyvania in the Satmar Community.

Josef a little boy, witnesses the murder of his parents by the Nazi regime. He is rescued by a Christian maid.

Five years later. Josef rescues a Jewish girl, Mila after her parents were killed running to meet the Rebbe they hoped would save them. Josef helps Mila reach Zalma Stern, the leader of the Satmar Community. There the Zalman's raise Mila as their own with their own daughter, Atara.

Meanwhile Josef is sent to Ame...more
Apr 01, 2012 Cindi rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2012

Josef is a young boy when he survives the massacre of his family in Transylvania during World War II. Hidden and raised by a non-Jewish woman for several years, Josef is eventually discovered by other Jews and sent to live with the Rebbe in New York City. Mila, a young Jewish girl is orphaned when her parents are brutally killed. She is taken in by another Jewish family and raised in Paris.

Thus begins I Am Forbidden by Anouk Markovits.

Eventually, Josef and Mila, Satmar Jews, will marry and entw...more
Teresa Lukey
I Am Forbidden follows three-generations of a Hasidic Jewish family. Starting in Romania under the Iron Guard movement and finishing in the Satmar Hasidic community established in Williamsburg, New York. Hasidism is a strict religion rooted in the Torah. Their day-to-day lives are lived based on the interpretation of this book and everything is done in such a fashion to ensure that all family members in the same blood line have a place by the messiah's side. There are many activities deemed...more
This book was sharp and stunning. Many parts are sad, even horrific, as peoples lives warp and change around this core of Hassidic Jewish traditions. I held the book with a sort of attracted, weary respect. I devoured the first half of the book, but once Atara has left the scene, the book just seemed to slow and the plot dried just a bit. I felt like the point had been made and it might have been more efficient to start wrapping up earlier. Not to demerit the later parts of the book, but I felt...more
This is a very good book, if only because it's about a subculture I've never had an opportunity to observe. I've been to Poland and worked pretty closely with what's left of the Jewish community in Wroclaw, but they were not Hasidic Jews. Fascinating.

My first impression was that the characters of Mila and Atara (all of the characters, really) were not developed very well. They were one-dimensional. Then I realized that that was probably intentionally done, and it was damn clever. The point of th...more
The book is a great discussion book but it bothered me. There were points that I didn't want to listen anymore. I believe that Mila suffered from mental illness. I am not sure why Joseph led the life that he did. Lack of communication in any culture causes disaster! A minor issue- in the beginning of the book Joseph is 5 years old and all of a sudden he is 12. There is plenty of foreshadowing, so you kind of know what's coming. It doesn't make it any better!
A beautifully told and horrifying account of two children from Transylvania whose parents are killed by the Iron Guard and who are saved after the war by their Satmar Hasidic community. I read that this sect are mostly Hungarian and Romanian Jews who relocated to Williamsburg, NY, after the war and continued to live, study and work together, rarely coming into contact with outsiders who might corrupt their congregation. The author herself was raised in France in a Satmar home before leaving at 1...more
I Am Forbidden by Anouk Markovits is an intimate and tender revelation of the private and reverent world of the strict Hasidic sect, the Satmar. This generational story is both a delicate and harsh division in one family whose one polar opposite is deeply rooted in the full conviction of its piety, complete obedience, and practice of its extreme spiritual traditions to the other spectrum of yearning for independence through secularism and modernity.

The narrative is beautifully written, a clear a...more
Four generations of a Satmar Hasidic family from 1939 in Transylvania to 2012 in Williamsburg, NY in each and in some there are multiple members who believe themselves to be “forbidden.” One young man has nocturnal emissions. One young woman is intellectually curious. She knows that she will have to leave her community to continue learning, and never see her parents again. Her adopted sister, from a family that was murdered by the Nazis goes to great extremes -- to conceive.

And the biggest secr...more
I Am Forbidden by Anouk Markovits (Hogarth) ISBN 9781781090022

Traditional religious laws have the ability to both create and break bonds of love. In Transylvania during the final days of World War II, Rabbi Zalman Stern takes responsibility for two orphaned children. Young Josef is sent to the United States and Mila is enfolded in the Rabbi’s family and becomes a sister to Atara. The sisters grow up together in the Hasidic community in Paris with strict rules and traditions. Atara is the inquisi...more
Jenny Brown
At times, I see a person of great faith and I wonder how it is they believe so wholeheartedly, so completely. Markovits creates in Mila a character of such piety so beautifully crafted that I feel, for the first time, "I get it." I followed her every move and it was so logical and so convincing. The story of Mila and her sister from the family that adopted her, Atara, who moved away from the religion is remarkable. The way the story moves from Transylvania toward the end of the war to Paris as t...more
Kelly Sierra
“The postman on his bicycle, she envied him, envied his wheels kissing the cobbles, that he knew one language only, one country only, envied his undivided past, undivided from his future.”

Markovits' I am Forbidden is by far one of my favorite adult books of 2012. Her novel is filled with a stifling air. I do not mean that the book itself is stifling, but that the actual subject and predicaments of a Hasidic Jewish life create this atmosphere in the novel. I have seen and studied Judaism, includ...more
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Book Giveaways: Win I Am Forbidden by Anouk Markovits! 1 15 Jun 05, 2012 02:32PM  
Read It Forward: * I AM FORBIDDEN by Anouk Markovits 1 38 Apr 25, 2012 08:41AM  
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“FAITES L'AMOUR ET RECOMMENCEZ (make love and make it again)” 14 likes
“The postman on his bicycle, she envied him, envied his wheels kissing the cobbles, that he knew one language only, one country only, envied his undivided past, undivided from his future.” 4 likes
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