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1 Beaverton Religion Western- Jewish Biography

Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots

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Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots Cover

ISBN13: 9781439187005
ISBN10: 1439187002
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

In the tradition of Ayaan Hirsi Aliand#8217;s andlt;Iandgt;Infidel andlt;/Iandgt;and Carolyn Jessopand#8217;s andlt;Iandgt;Escape, Unorthodox andlt;/Iandgt;is a captivating story about a young woman determined to live her own life at any cost. andlt;BRandgt;andlt;BRandgt;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. andlt;BRandgt;andlt;BRandgt;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 Deborahand#8217;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 wasnand#8217;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 pathand#8212;for herself and her sonand#8212;to happiness and freedom. andlt;BRandgt;andlt;BRandgt;*** andlt;BRandgt;andlt;BRandgt;andlt;Iandgt;From andlt;/Iandgt;UNandlt;Iandgt;orthodoxandlt;/Iandgt;andlt;Iandgt;:andlt;/Iandgt; andlt;BRandgt;andlt;BRandgt;I have secrets too. Maybe Bubby knows about them, but she wonand#8217;t say anything about mine if I donand#8217;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 womanand#8217;s privacy, and move on to my grandmotherand#8217;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 andlt;Iandgt;chametz, andlt;/Iandgt;the forbidden leavening, ever could. Bubby might get away with a scolding, but I would not be spared the full extent of my grandfatherand#8217;s wrath. When my andlt;Iandgt;zeide andlt;/Iandgt;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. andlt;Iandgt;and#8220;Der tumeneh shprach!and#8221; andlt;/Iandgt;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.

Review:

"Born into the insular and exclusionary Hasidic community of Satmar in Brooklyn to a mentally disabled father and a mother who fled the sect, Feldman, as she recounts in this nicely written memoir, seemed doomed to be an outsider from the start. Raised by devout grandparents who forbade her to read in English, the ever-curious child craved books outside the synagogue teaching. Feldman's spark of rebellion started with sneaking off to the library and hiding paperback novels under her bed. Her boldest childhood revolution: she buys an English translation of the Talmud, which would otherwise be kept from her, so that she might understand the prayers and stories that are the fabric of her existence. At 17, hoping to be free of the scrutiny and gossip of her circle, she enters into an arranged marriage with a man she meets once before the wedding. Instead, having received no sex education from a culture that promotes procreation and repression simultaneously, she and her husband are unable to consummate the relationship for a year. The absence of a sex life and failure to produce a child dominate her life, with her family and in-laws supplying constant pressure. She starts to experience panic attacks and the stirrings of her final break with being Hasidic. It's when she finally does get pregnant and wants something more for her child that the full force of her uprising takes hold and she plots her escape. Feldman, who now attends Sarah Lawrence College, offers this engaging and at times gripping insight into Brooklyn's Hasidic community." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Synopsis:

The instant andlt;I andgt;New York Timesandlt;/Iandgt; bestselling memoir of a young Jewish womanand#8217;s escape from a religious sect, in the tradition of Ayaan Hirsi Aliand#8217;s andlt;Iandgt;Infidel andlt;/Iandgt;and Carolyn Jessopand#8217;s andlt;Iandgt;Escapeandlt;/Iandgt;.andlt;BRandgt;andlt;BRandgt;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. andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;Deborah grew up under a code of relentlessly enforced customs governing everything from what she could wear and to whom she could speak to what she was allowed to read. It was stolen moments spent with the empowered literary characters of Jane Austen and Louisa May Alcott that helped her to imagine an alternative way of life. Trapped as a teenager in a sexually and emotionally dysfunctional marriage to a man she barely knew, the tension between Deborahand#8217;s desires and her responsibilities as a good Satmar girl grew more explosive until she gave birth at nineteen and realized that, for the sake of herself and her son, she had to escape.

Synopsis:

In this arresting memoir about growing up in—and ultimately escaping from—a strict Hasidic community, Deborah Feldman reveals what life is like trapped within a religious sect that values silence and suffering over individual freedoms.

The Satmar sect of Hasidic Judaism is as mysterious as it is intriguing to outsiders. Unorthodox sheds new light on this subculture through one woman’s harrowing tale of repression and self-discovery.

Raised in the cloistered world of Brooklyn’s Satmar Hasidim, Deborah Feldman struggled as a naturally curious child to make sense of and obey the rigid strictures that governed her daily life. From what she could read to whom she could speak with, virtually every aspect of her identity was tightly controlled. Married at age seventeen to a man she had only met for thirty minutes, and denied a traditional education—sexual or otherwise—she was unable to consummate the relationship for an entire year. Her resultant debilitating anxiety went undiagnosed and was exacerbated by the public shame of having failed to serve her husband. In exceptional prose, Feldman recalls how stolen moments reading about the empowered literary characters of Jane Austen and Louisa May Alcott helped her to see an alternative way of life—one she knew she had to seize when, at the age of nineteen, she gave birth to a son and realized that more than just her own future was at stake.

Unorthodox is a captivating odyssey through adversity and a groundbreaking look into Orthodox Jewish culture.

About the Author

Deborah Feldman was raised in the Satmar Hasidic community in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, New York. She attends Sarah Lawrence College and lives in New York City with her son.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 2 comments:

couponqueen, January 8, 2013 (view all comments by couponqueen)
Being a conservative Jew, reading Deborah Feldman's memoir was a real eye opener. She described the Hasidim way of life like no one on the outside looking in could. Before the book's end Ms. Feldman does leave but viewing this journey through her words versus an "outsider's" made the story all the more meaningful. And on the way I learned about aspects of this very Orthodox branch in Judaism more than if I'd been reading a researcher's tale
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opal, June 14, 2012 (view all comments by opal)
Oy.....What a painful experience.....for the hopeful reader, that is.
As a feminist and as a victim of oppression by religionists myself, I was so looking forward to this book after learning of its release on the BBC news site. Sadly, it is a disappointing, cobbled-together, "bound blog," meaning that there is no book here, just blog installments from a superficial, scattered, and uninteresting writer. The author, Deborah Feldman, was most definitely subjected to yet another misogynist, authoritarian, crazy religion, but even at the end of the book, reading about all that she endured, the reader finds her to be a most unappealing person, with a dull and whiney disposition.

Throughout her memoir there is no revelation of compassion or even of interest (beyond envy) in the lives of others who helped her to reach adulthood, or who befriended her along the way. As a book about Satmar Hasidism, it does inform the reader of a number of bizarre rituals practiced by that orthodox sect, but over and over, just when some depth is needed, the author veers away from exploring the rituals adequately enough for the outsider to reach a satisfying understanding. She has engaged in virtually no historical or sociological research on Hasidism to put her story into any sort of perspective. She portrays herself as almost immune to the suffering of the women around her, and when she leaves her community, somehow legally taking her child with her (the accomplishment of which is never explained except for a mention of a pro bono lawyer in the acknowledgements), one is almost more sympathetic toward her husband, who, in her story, is every bit as much of a pawn of the terror of fundamentalism as is she. The way he is described, one must conclude that he has a longer leash than she, but a leash just as cruel, and just as sturdy as her own. Disappointingly, the author spends no time on such an analysis.

The book has large photos at each chapter page, none of which are accompanied by any explanatory text. Who are these people? Why is this photo in the book? I guess it's none of our business! I have read a promo which compares this book to Carolyn Jessup's memoir "Escape." If you are a fan of that extremely important, excellent work, know that "Unorthodox" falls very, very short of it, and anyone making the comparison in a favorable way ought to be ashamed. Feldman's editor should have pointed out to her that it is poor form for an author to admit to the reader that she was desperate for cash to leave her marriage and received a book offer for a beefed-up version of her blog writings, when the reader is nearing the end of such a thin excuse for a liberation memoir. There are so many valuable stories about women that need to be told, that need to see the light of day, that need to expose how religion distorts our psyches and imprisons, abuses, extorts, and enslaves us. I am sad that this narcissistic and narrow memoir might masquerade, for a time, as one of those.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9781439187005
Author:
Feldman, Deborah
Publisher:
Simon & Schuster
Subject:
Biography-Religious
Subject:
Jewish, Judaism, Deborah Feldman, bestseller, bestselling, religion, religious, childhood, memoir, escape, cult, Brooklyn, Satmar, Hasidic
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Hardback
Publication Date:
20120231
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Language:
English
Illustrations:
12 bandamp;w photos t-o
Pages:
272
Dimensions:
9.25 x 6.12 in

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Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots Used Hardcover
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Product details 272 pages Simon & Schuster - English 9781439187005 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Born into the insular and exclusionary Hasidic community of Satmar in Brooklyn to a mentally disabled father and a mother who fled the sect, Feldman, as she recounts in this nicely written memoir, seemed doomed to be an outsider from the start. Raised by devout grandparents who forbade her to read in English, the ever-curious child craved books outside the synagogue teaching. Feldman's spark of rebellion started with sneaking off to the library and hiding paperback novels under her bed. Her boldest childhood revolution: she buys an English translation of the Talmud, which would otherwise be kept from her, so that she might understand the prayers and stories that are the fabric of her existence. At 17, hoping to be free of the scrutiny and gossip of her circle, she enters into an arranged marriage with a man she meets once before the wedding. Instead, having received no sex education from a culture that promotes procreation and repression simultaneously, she and her husband are unable to consummate the relationship for a year. The absence of a sex life and failure to produce a child dominate her life, with her family and in-laws supplying constant pressure. She starts to experience panic attacks and the stirrings of her final break with being Hasidic. It's when she finally does get pregnant and wants something more for her child that the full force of her uprising takes hold and she plots her escape. Feldman, who now attends Sarah Lawrence College, offers this engaging and at times gripping insight into Brooklyn's Hasidic community." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Synopsis" by , The instant andlt;I andgt;New York Timesandlt;/Iandgt; bestselling memoir of a young Jewish womanand#8217;s escape from a religious sect, in the tradition of Ayaan Hirsi Aliand#8217;s andlt;Iandgt;Infidel andlt;/Iandgt;and Carolyn Jessopand#8217;s andlt;Iandgt;Escapeandlt;/Iandgt;.andlt;BRandgt;andlt;BRandgt;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. andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;Deborah grew up under a code of relentlessly enforced customs governing everything from what she could wear and to whom she could speak to what she was allowed to read. It was stolen moments spent with the empowered literary characters of Jane Austen and Louisa May Alcott that helped her to imagine an alternative way of life. Trapped as a teenager in a sexually and emotionally dysfunctional marriage to a man she barely knew, the tension between Deborahand#8217;s desires and her responsibilities as a good Satmar girl grew more explosive until she gave birth at nineteen and realized that, for the sake of herself and her son, she had to escape.
"Synopsis" by , In this arresting memoir about growing up in—and ultimately escaping from—a strict Hasidic community, Deborah Feldman reveals what life is like trapped within a religious sect that values silence and suffering over individual freedoms.

The Satmar sect of Hasidic Judaism is as mysterious as it is intriguing to outsiders. Unorthodox sheds new light on this subculture through one woman’s harrowing tale of repression and self-discovery.

Raised in the cloistered world of Brooklyn’s Satmar Hasidim, Deborah Feldman struggled as a naturally curious child to make sense of and obey the rigid strictures that governed her daily life. From what she could read to whom she could speak with, virtually every aspect of her identity was tightly controlled. Married at age seventeen to a man she had only met for thirty minutes, and denied a traditional education—sexual or otherwise—she was unable to consummate the relationship for an entire year. Her resultant debilitating anxiety went undiagnosed and was exacerbated by the public shame of having failed to serve her husband. In exceptional prose, Feldman recalls how stolen moments reading about the empowered literary characters of Jane Austen and Louisa May Alcott helped her to see an alternative way of life—one she knew she had to seize when, at the age of nineteen, she gave birth to a son and realized that more than just her own future was at stake.

Unorthodox is a captivating odyssey through adversity and a groundbreaking look into Orthodox Jewish culture.

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