Saturday, February 25, 2012

Unorthodox : The Scandalous Rejection Of My Hasidic Roots
by Deborah Feldman

Deborah Feldman grew up in a very strict environment within
the Satmar sect of Hasidic Judaism. Her mother abandoned her as a baby and since the father was mentally disabled, he couldn't take care of Deborah either. So, her extremely religious grandparents, Bubby and Zeidy, raised her with tons of rules. As Deborah grew up, she started to think independently and would secretly go off to the public library and read literature that would have been frowned on by her community. She brought these books home and hid them under her mattress.
When Deborah was seventeen, she was married off to a man that she had only met and talked to for thirty minutes before they became engaged. Needless to say, the marriage was fraught with problems and overwhelming anxiety. Two years later, Deborah had a child. Dealing with a baby at so young an age, a husband who was hardly around who didn't really care about his wife, and feeling like she was drowning with no support from anyone in the family, Deborah began to plot her future to leave her oppressive surroundings.
The subtitle of this book is very misleading. Deborah did not reject her Hasidic roots until she left at the age of twenty-three. When she talks about her childhood, she speaks lovingly of her grandparents and how well they treated her. She was happy then.
Although Deborah writes well, there's not much to get excited about. The ending was flat and there's many questions that she left unanswered.
Parts of the book were interesting but she's a contradiction. She couldn't wait to get away from the nosiness and gossip but then she starts a blog and broadcasts everything that happened to her including intimate details.
Photographs are included. The last one is of Deborah sitting on a bench in skin-tight blue jeans smoking a cigarette.
Many people can't wait to get their hands on this book: there are over 80 requests at the library. They should go on the Internet and look up what is being said about what she wrote. Apparently, most of it is lies.