Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots Unorthodox discussion


375 views
unorthodox idiocy

Comments Showing 1-15 of 15 (15 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Kim (new) - rated it 1 star

Kim Deborah obviously had a hard life. But it wasnt the community that made it so. Her parents- who as she states herself were far from typical Hassidic Jews- made real bad mistakes with her. However to go ahead and say that the whole community is like that is not just wrong its pure idiocy. I do not belong to the Chassidic"sect" myself however I am an Orthodox Jew and I can state for a fact that the book is full of distortions. Sure there are some people in the community who take things to extremes as her grandparents may or may not have done. But the vast majority of the people are normal people just like you and me. They are permitted to read secular books, they can read and write English as well as anyone and many of them have internet and other modern conveniences in their homes. Furthermore women are far from repressed. The way she describes the dress code is total nonsense- sure girls wear skirts but not "stiff" or baggy clothing.As another girl who lives in Satmar herself told me, Deborah's lifestyle is that of the most extreme members of the community and is far from the norm. In essence it sounds as though Deborah had a difficult childhood and would have rebelled against any society she grew up in. She is lucky she grew up in a community where rebelling just means changing ones style of dress and not doing the self-destructive and dangerous things that teenagers in other communities often do to "find their authentic selves"


Shoshana That's the whole point; she didn't live in a 'normal' orthodox Jewish environment. You say you don't live in a Hasidic coMmunity, so you don't see what goes on there. Regular Orthodox Jewish is very different from Hasidic. I've lived in both kinds of communities, so I saw the contrast. (Funnily enough, some in the the 'regular' Orthodox community think of the Hasidic as being more 'frum', or 'holy', which makes me laugh.)


Sandi the regular Orthodox community is NOT like the Satmars. I have family members who are very orthodox but not Satmar and let me tell you, they are no way the same as the community that Ms. Feldman lived in. One woman in my family wears the most beautiful clothes and shoes, albeit modest but not the the point of being frumpy at all. She wears high heels and very stylish shoes. I am a very reformed Jew and I would wear the clothes that she wears as they are really lovely. Put it this way, you wouldn't be able to tell that she is Orthodox if you saw her walking down the street. She also wears a wig, which you cannot tell is a wig as it's styled quite well and she wears it in different styles. The Satmars are a totally different form of Hasidic Judaism. They are the probably the most conservative form of Hasidic movements in the US. They even fight among themselves as the group split off....there are Satmars in Williamsburg, Brooklyn (the group Ms. Feldman came from) and the group in Kiryas Joel, NY (a village in Monroe, NY). There is even violence among the Hasidic Jews of New Square, NY (Skverer) from an area in the Ukraine. All of what I say is a fact and can be found in numerous credible sources either online or in periodical archives in the library.

Somehow I don't think Deborah would have rebelled if she grew up in a typical secular Jewish home or even a modern Orthodox home. She obviously didn't want the lifestyle of being in an arranged marriage at 17 which is a teenager and then she would have been expected to have at least 6 kids. Sure they say that the women can work if they want to but with at least 6 kids where would they find the time??? They wouldn't!!! For those that live in the Satmar community that are happy, that is great....I have no problem with that, but not everyone believes or wants that type of lifestyle. I know I wouldn't want to live that lifestyle at all.

Ms. Feldman is just telling of her life in that community....HER memoirs which are an account of HER life. Not anyone else's in that community. It's a shame that she has been getting such backlash from people.

I for one wish her the best of luck!!


message 4: by Bette (new)

Bette Isacoff As a Catholic woman married forty-two blissful years to a Jewish man, I saw the struggles he had to overcome within his Conservative family in order to take me as his wife. I cannot imagine how much more difficult it was for Deborah to leave her community and way of life -- both physically and emotionally.

Every wish for happiness from now on.


Debbie I enjoyed this book very much and I think Ms. Feldman is a gifted writer. I do have a question, though. I thought she explained most things very well throughout the book, but I am left wondering how she was able to take her son with her when she left. I understand that she changed her phone number and simply left, but were there no ramifications later? It seems unbelievable to me that his family (and hers) would not track her down and claim the child. This is a loose end that has been on my mind since I finished the book, and I just can't let it go. Does anyone have any insight into this?


Judy Debbie wrote: "I enjoyed this book very much and I think Ms. Feldman is a gifted writer. I do have a question, though. I thought she explained most things very well throughout the book, but I am left wondering ..."

I also wondered about that. This is a sect that is seriously male dominated and the women have no rights; I imagine that Ms. Feldman must've had a brilliant lawyer. She was a bit vague.


message 7: by Brianne (last edited Oct 01, 2012 10:27AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Brianne Silva Kim wrote: "Deborah obviously had a hard life. But it wasnt the community that made it so. Her parents- who as she states herself were far from typical Hassidic Jews- made real bad mistakes with her. However t..."

Deborah did make a distinction between the different communities. After she married, she moved to another community with her husban that was much more "liberal". She had Internet and wore regular clothes, etc. So I believe she did point out the differences and show that each community varied. I was very encouraged by her plight and how she left an extremely stric family/community and made something of herself outside her faith and upbringing, which is hard for anyone to do.


message 8: by Brianne (last edited Oct 01, 2012 10:35AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Brianne Silva Debbie wrote: "I enjoyed this book very much and I think Ms. Feldman is a gifted writer. I do have a question, though. I thought she explained most things very well throughout the book, but I am left wondering ..."

This same thought also crossed my mind. I caught myself thinking she was very lucky her husband didn't go after her for custody of the child. I got the impression that her husband was having doubts about his faith and took a different path from the Hasidic Jewish upbringing he had. Likewise, he seemed to be a very passive man. These two possible facts would have benefitted Deborah with the advantage of a more modern outcome.


message 9: by Pat (last edited Dec 04, 2012 08:53AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Pat I am very glad to read all these comments, which are positive and they are much of what I was thinking as well.
1- a brilliant lawyer, absolutely!
2- a very passive husband, with a very strong willed mother. Okay-extremely strong willed, maybe even shrewish.
3- her biological parents. Wouldn't it be unacceptable to have the father marry, knowing that he was not a good sperm donor for the community to have in the gene pool? Even in his younger days, he exhibited unusual behaviors. Apparently since they had to search so far for someone, some poor woman to stick him with? I would question their ethics!
Along with all my questions about the book- I also would like to hear an update about Deborah. And Yitzy, how is this little fellow doing? And really, has Deborah gotten a divorce? How and what is Eli doing? Part of me did feel sorry for him. In between wanting to smack him and say grow a pair. Deborah seems to have honestly tried to make the marriage work, if Eli had bent a bit more, would they have made it? Who knows. But really, I sure would like to hear updates. After reading the book, I am wondering about the current life of them all. Including Bubbie and the Grandpa. And her biological Mother, I do feel sympathy for her situation too.
One last question, and sorry to sound judgmental- because I know it does, who took care of Yitzy while Deborah went to New Orleans? How would you trust anyone to do that in light of the Hasidic community's attitude towards her?
I do hope she finds someone that will respect and care for her in a truly romantic and loving way. And that the cash that she gets from this book is well invested, and safe!


Deborah I am a bit skeptical about whether this book is really accurate. Were charges ever pressed against the father who murdered his child? Did it really happen or was it exaggerated to sell the book?

As a Conservative Jew I have met people from various sects of Juaism, but never a Satmar. They wouldn't consider me to be a Jew and often keep to themselves. The women often shop, or go out, in groups with their children in tow. They never meet your eye and rarely initiate a conversation with an outsider.

I decided to research the facts as presented by Deborah Feldman on the Internet.

Results:
As to the 'murder', this may, or may not, have been doctored but the claim that the father cut off his son's penis is explained that he suffered a cut to his carotid artery which may have been self inflicted. This is what the medical coroner put in his report. The police also confirmed this.

Feldman's mother left her father when Deborah was 15, not a toddler, and she was even thrown out of a less conservative school that her grandparents sent her to.

Feldman has a much younger sister that her mother took with her when she left. She was never mentioned in the book!

I wonder if Simon and Schuster has a problem on their hands? Perhaps this book needs to be reclassified as a work of fiction.

I have heard that the Satmar sect is riddled with crimes and abuses that would never be allowed in the general public, so perhaps some of it is true, but perhaps a lot of what's written in Feldman's book is a result of her imagination, or perhaps she herself is troubled and needs help. Whatever it is I wish her much luck and I hope that she and her son do well out in the world. I look forward to seeing how she fares.


Shira Reiss The comments are a great discussion. Yes, I am not Orthodox, but I agree with the Orthodox women who wrote about how there are just so many inaccuracies about the Orthodox communities. There are other books that deal with the same subject like "The Reader" and "I am Forbidden." I read "The Reader" and had the same problem as this book. I never read "The Forbidden." Anyhow, part of the problem I had with this book is that the author did not seem to have any insight about her life or the community. In my Hadassah Book Group, others felt she had written the book "too soon" and needed to get older to have those insights. We also felt that the first half of the book had details that were absent in the second half as if she had to hurry through that part and left us with many questions. Thank you Kim and Sandi for your comments.


Brittany Personally, I really enjoyed this memoir and I felt like it gave me an insight to the Satmar community. Needless to say, I am sure Feldman had a negative bias due to her experiences and I would be interested in hearing more from Satmar women who enjoy their identity/community.

I was a little disappointed that she did not write more about her escape from the Satmar life. How did she escape? How did her family react? Was she able to keep in contact with her Satmar relatives when she left? How did she get custody of her son? And, I am really curious about how her family reacted to the book!! I hope she write a sequel with updates!


message 13: by Jodi (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jodi Marcou Brianne wrote: "Debbie wrote: "I enjoyed this book very much and I think Ms. Feldman is a gifted writer. I do have a question, though. I thought she explained most things very well throughout the book, but I am ..."
I wondered this as well..is it possible that she had damaging info about Eli and was able to use that to keep her son? Deborah did get an infection from her husband that appeared to be sexually transmitted...


Robyn Markow Deborah wrote: "I am a bit skeptical about whether this book is really accurate. Were charges ever pressed against the father who murdered his child? Did it really happen or was it exaggerated to sell the book?

A..."

I'm a non-practicing Jew so the Hasidim might as well be from another planet. I'm really getting into the book but then I'm reading that she left out important information such as having a younger sister as well as being allowed to go to the public library and check out secular books. I'm only 1/3 into the book and I will finish it since the subject matter itself is fascinating and Ms.Feldman's a good writer. However, I won't take everything she writes in it at face value. I really think since she left out so much stuff and bent the truth like she did,she really should've made this book a work of fiction instead;it's sounds like she was halfway there anyway..!


Smoke as i read this book i was able to contextualize it as one person's experience, from her singular point of view, and i assume other readers were able to as well. i've never read a memoir that wasn't self serving, i can only imagine it'd be boring. to suggest that unorthodox is fabricated or idiocy because her experience isn't shared by all hasids is kind of silly. furthermore, she makes this claim nowhere in the book. it's been a while since i read it, but i also don't recall her claiming that her experience is typical or representative in any way. she knows the life she lived, and she knows the reasons she was given by people who had power and influence in her life. i don't think anyone has a right to say it didn't happen. i also have no problem with omitting facts about crimes or children, it seems natural to do so for legal reasons. the observation that she wrote it too soon is very interesting, i got that impression too. i was left wanting to know what happened afterward and hoping she is doing well, but mostly wondering how her views seasoned over time. for that, she does have a blog, deborahfeldman.com. and it looks like she recently published another book too - i guess updates are in there.


back to top