Lisa's Reviews > Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots

Unorthodox by Deborah Feldman
Rate this book
Clear rating

's review
Feb 12, 2012

it was amazing
Read in February, 2012

The minute I started this book I was engrossed and I finished it within 2 days. I found as a woman, it was almost infuriating to read. I also think it is disgusting and awful that so many from her former "community" are stalking her and posting fake reviews calling the book false. This book is HER memoir and HER truth and she is completely and utterly entitled to it. This is a rare look into this strange community. It is an interesting read for me personally since I live in an area where there is a large population. I never really knew what to make of these women I see often pushing baby carriages and conversing with no one but their own. Now, I feel a sort of sadness for them. I am sure that many are content and even happy in this lifestyle but I am glad for the author that she wanted more and she was able to attain it.
57 likes · flag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read Unorthodox.
Sign In »

Reading Progress

04/23/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-21 of 21) (21 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

Laura Daly Why do you call them strange?

Lisa Because I find any community that refuses to integrate and even interact with those around them strange. They teach their children to hate everyone that isn't one of them. Also, please do not assume I know nothing of this community because I happen to live where there is the largest amount of Orthodox in the US. Why is it that in the name of religion that this form of hatred for those who are not alike is considered ok?

Laura Daly I think if I was a hasid I would have a bit of a chip on my shoulder about goyim too... The past is not so kind to them. Also you gave the book five stars because you think they are stalking her... So much for an honest review. Also do you know any Hasids ? Any ? Also at no point did I assume anything about you. And you know what they all teach their children do you?

Lisa Why would anyone have a chip on their shoulder about me personally or anyone in NY for that matter? I was raised to believe I could become friends with anyone of any race, creed, religion, etc. I have long finished the book and my review stands. I can give you many of my own personal experiences and interactions but my intent isn't honestly to bash these people. Yes, I find it strange that they raise their own to not interact or trust others and yes, I have experienced this personally on countless occasions. You picked the wrong person to bicker with if that is your intent. This book is a NYT bestseller and the more you push against it, the better it sells.

Laura Daly I have no desire to bicker with anyone and please do not threaten me. Have a nice day and Mazel Tov

Lisa I in no way threatened you. I am simply stating that I know exactly what I am talking about in this regard. Have a nice day.

Laura Daly Lisa wrote: "I in no way threatened you. I am simply stating that I know exactly what I am talking about in this regard. Have a nice day."
As do lots of other people.

Lisa Do you happen to live where the events in this book happened?

Laura Daly I have an apartment in Red Hook not that it's any of your business I have lived in Crown Heights and have a home in Ardsley NY. And am currently working in Ireland for Three months. So you don't have a monopoly on the area. I am bored with your aggressive and arrogant attitude so I am blocking you.

message 10: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa LOL, you are ridiculous. I am still curious as to exactly what about my review and statements you don't like or find untrue but since I have received the dreaded block, I suppose I will never find out. I take no issue with those of the Jewish faith or any other faith. I do take issue with votes and politicians being bought, zoning restrictions bent, and general disregard for women and their education. I think as a woman, you would be aghast that a group of people would want to turn you into not much more than an uneducated baby-maker who is taught to fear everyone that doesn't look like them. In this day in age, this is absolutely absurd and I commend the author of this book for breaking free.

message 11: by Kaylee (new)

Kaylee Suark Hi Lisa,

I am a Hasidic woman living in Rockland county. I am sorry that this has been your experience with our community.
I just want you to know that there are many Hasidic and Orthodox Jewish women that are friendly and educated and do not fit your stereo-type.
Most women here are happy doing what they do, but we all have free choice.
I am now going for my degree, have tons of friends outside of my community yet am so happy living my life.
I have an extremely devoted husband. Our marriage is one of trust and passion and love and devotion. I am glad to be raising my children in a stable and happy environment. I do know many women in our country who are still looking for what I have. (I'm not talking about the bachelor lol, but your everyday women).

I guess I just want to show you a different side.
Sorry again for your negative experience, wishing you loads of luck in your project in Ireland and if you wish to get to know more I would be very glad to be in touch with you.

message 12: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa I am very glad for you, Kaylee. I am also glad you explained that without the hate that follows most of the commentary about this book. Good luck with your degree.

message 13: by Kaylee (new)

Kaylee Suark Thank you.
I realize I made a mistake about you being in Ireland. That was the other poster. Sorry about that.

message 14: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa No problem. I don't want anyone to be confused. I do have friends who are Modern Orthodox. It is the stripping of women's rights that I take issue with.

message 15: by Mindy (new)

Mindy Some of Devora's experiences are true; and as an Orthodox and Hasidic women myself, I would be the first to recognize that. However, Devora is not a reliable source for learning about my community. I say that not with hate, but with pity. Much of what she says is self contradictory and unsourced. Nobody in my community ( the same as Devora's) discuss people's sex lives, and that disgusting murder story was purely contrived! I am working on a law degree, choose my own clothes, and will choose the person who I will marry. It is true that some choose to remain more constricted, but force is never used in the Hasidic lifestyle People choose to live this way, and there is no reason to mock or disdain their choice. It hurts me that the lifestyle of my family, while constricting, should be disparaged in this sensationalist way. I am embarrassed of Devora, and it pains me to see how she expresses her hurt in this slanderous way. I am not stalking her, and no one is encouraging me to write this.

message 16: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa Thank you for your reply, Mindy. What I will say is that reading the book has now made me stop and wonder about the Hasidic women in my area more than I did previously. While we are two societies that basically ignore each other here, I have to admit my interest has become greater. I certainly am not one to say whether or not the murder story is true. What I do know is that here in Rockland County, we do run into a lot of issues with the voting and zoning which she did mention in the book. That seems to be an issue wherever there is a large population of religious folks, though. I wish you much success with your law degree!

message 17: by Mindy (last edited Apr 02, 2012 12:18PM) (new)

Mindy Lisa wrote: "Thank you for your reply, Mindy. What I will say is that reading the book has now made me stop and wonder about the Hasidic women in my area more than I did previously. While we are two societies..."

Thank you for responding, Lisa! I appreciate your good wishes. My comment regarding the murder story is based on the police rebuttal of her account of this murder:

I would also like to say that I appreciate your interest in Hasidic women. I believe that if you attempt to talk to local women, they will be glad to share more about their lifestyle. It is a world unto its own, a lot more than can be covered within a single book, no matter the author.


Corinne Muller I have just started this book and quickly realized that the author did not have the typical Stamar upbringing. Not even close! Does anyone know if she left the Chasidic community or has she renounced religion in general?

Kathy Kattenburg Lisa, I am almost finished with this book and I agree with everything you wrote about it, especially the part about it being her experiences and her truth. It's a shame some people in the community Feldman left feel so threatened by what she wrote and the fact she left that community.

Corinne Muller I want to add comments since I have finished the book since my first. I have also read all comments above. First off, living in a Satmer or Belz (or the like community) is very different than living in, let's say, a Chabad (also chasidic) or typical "black hat" community.
There are some wonderful things in all orthodox communities but if something goes wrong in an ultra Chasdic community there may not be many options for the woman (e.g. spousal abuse, divorce, custody of male children). The woman can't call the police (shanda [shame/scandal] on the family") and don't typically go to civil courts but a Beit Din (Jewish Court) held by the Rabbis/leaders of the community - all men. In many Beit Din, the woman needs a man to speak for her, if she can find one.
My cousins are ultra orthodox chasidim and choose spouses for their children. Kids have very little say (if any) in what happens to them and girls even less. Yet they appear to be very happy in the life they are leading.
Devora's experiences however are a-typical. A father who is mentally impaired (where learning is everything and all want a bright child who can study Torah), a mother who is gay and ultimately being raised by her grandparents. Keeping up appearances for the community (remember the sister-in-law) is very important. The wrong appearance can affect the entire family and damage future marriage opportunities (my cousin was killed in Israel and his children were considered with "defects" for marriageability). Another cousin who was a bit crazy (not mentally) and his kids had to marry others with defects, e.g. a girl of divorced parents, a child of a man who became religious (wasn't born into the fold), etc. Yichus ("good stock" for lack of a better translation) is everything.
It is a strange society to understand if you haven't lived it. My sister once asked my cousin's children what they wanted to be when they grew up. My cousin ranted that she was an "apikoros" [heretic]. Naturally the boys would learn Torah and the girls would be mothers and raise their children in the Torah way. What kind of a question was this???
Kids have no idea of marriage, other then it is expected between 18-20 and to be "fruitful and multiply or sex. They have never spoken to the other sex outside of immediate family. They are so naive (ignorant?) they don't even know the questions to ask. If they can't perform they don't know what it is they are supposed to be doing. If a boy is gay and can't perform, he doesn't know what gay means. Never heard the term.
What interests me the most is that children who have left the fold, leave religion, i.e. they don't generally become modern orthodox. They aren't simply shunning their extreme community but the religion as well. I'm trying to figure this out.
I would love to hear some thoughts especially from Devora if she is following this.

Corinne Muller Kathy wrote: "Lisa, I am almost finished with this book and I agree with everything you wrote about it, especially the part about it being her experiences and her truth. It's a shame some people in the community..."

Kathy: It's not that they feel threatened they simply don't understand what she wrote. Remember, they haven't read it (or wouldn't admit to reading it). It's gossip on the streets as to what she wrote.

back to top