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Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots Hardcover – Feb 14 2012


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; Nineth Impression edition (Feb. 14 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1439187002
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439187005
  • Product Dimensions: 2.7 x 15.9 x 24.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 454 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #76,296 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Shakir on Dec 11 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I did a fair amount of reading on Judaism and different Jewish cultures, history and practices. I sifted through literature trying to understand what does it mean to be Ashkenazi, Sephardi, Mizrachi, Maghrebi, Haredi or Beta Israel Jew. However, when it comes to the daily life of Haredi or Hasidic Jewish communities, literature is almost silent. Yes, there is some light shed on the general practices of Ultra-orthodox sects but beyond that, nothing much. My curiosity towards ultra-conservative jewish sects is not tainted with judgement. I just wanted to learn about their culture. Who am I to judge anybody anyway? Ms. Feldman paints a vivid picture of what is it like to be a girl in a Yiddish-speaking Satmar Hasidic community in Brooklyn. She brilliantly describes the preparing for and rituals of the sabbath, Yum Kippur and numerous other occasions the Hasidim celebrate zealously. Their lives are dedicated to studying the Torah and Talmud from an early age. The little things that we usually overlook like how to be modest, talk, behave, read, watch, preparing meals, keeping kosher, going to yeshivas, marriage arrangements and many other things from the Hasidim perspective. Ms. Feldman got a lot of criticism from Jews and non-Jews such as Shmarya Rosenberg about the content of the book. You can read both points of view and judge for yourself. The criticism does not undermine the value of the book, however. If you're interested in the costumes and daily life of the Hasidim, this the book is for you. A little background of basic Jewish costumes helps a lot with reading this book. I enjoyed every page and emerged with more info about this overlooked sect. @shakirbahzad
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Reader Writer Runner TOP 50 REVIEWER on June 10 2012
Format: Hardcover
"Unorthodox" chronicles Deborah Feldman's childhood and adolescence. Raised by her grandparents, members of the most insular Hasidic sect, the Satmars, Feldman becomes a bride at 17, a mother at 19 and a divorcee at 22, at which point she enrols in Sarah Lawrence University and cuts ties with the Satmar.

Feldman provides a measured and thoughtful accounting of growing up Satmar and invokes the reader's pleasure through mutual discovery of new worlds. As Feldman discovers the forbidden pleasures of Narnia and Roald Dahl, we in turn discover her world: the traditional girls school, the isolated summer camp, and her education in the religious laws of modesty and purity that govern dress, menstruation, and sex. The author shares her intimate thoughts, struggling to reconcile her independent mind with the conformity that is expected of her. We hear her giggles, gripes, doubts, critiques, and challenges to the status quo, which she accomplishes without wholly skewering the people around her. Her accounting of her past is remarkably frank and compelling.

The quality of Feldman's writing is especially remarkable, given the fact that this is her first book, which she wrote in a non-native language. However, the final chapter disappoints as it lacks craft and makes too many proclamations with little substance. Ultimately, she leaves too many loose ends: how does she support herself and her young son? Does she maintain a relationship with her grandparents? Does she continue to practice Judaism? Perhaps a follow-up memoir will provide much needed closure.
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By Viktoria Asnitsky on June 19 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Love the book !!! I had reconnection or flash back with my own childhood, even thought I come from different culture.
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Format: Paperback
As a Gentile or "Goya" and grasping that Jews are either God's Blessings or examples to the nations(For example 25% of Nobel prize winners are Jewish though only representing 1 10th of 1% of earths population) , yet not having not heard of Hasidic Jews before, I read a little bit of this book at a friend’s place, and next visit I just kept reading. It was interesting to hear about a segment of Jews that turn out to be similar in the bottom line to semi Christian groups that break away from mainstream branches with their own heretical private versions or interpretations of the bible.

Like Jehovah Witness that refuse the Godhead of Christ, Catholics that put Mary as Queen of Heaven, and intercessor instead of Christ and The Mormons complete replacement of the bible with their own non biblical fantasies and traditions(Book of Mormon), these Hasidics reject the Torah’ clear statement of Aaron’s Priesthood in favour of someone I’d never heard of before to justify Priests and Rabbi’s that don’t come from Aarons lineage. And like these other segments of Religious society, they come up with sectarian and cultic practices that further distinguish their religions from mainstream groups, often in extreme ways. And as is all too often the case with Religions that don’t quite align with the biblical word, adherents become increasingly frustrated with what become blatantly obvious flaws in the religions they are forced to adhere to and eventually reject them wholeheartedly, often throwing out the baby with the bathwater in the process. So in this way this book was fascinating to see from a Jewish Woman’s perspective.

However from her marriage point onward this book went downhill fast, and got downright bothersome.
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