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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unorthodox, indeed!
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...
Published 19 months ago by Shakir

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars More Bookish Thoughts...
"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...
Published on June 10 2012 by Reader Writer Runner


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unorthodox, indeed!, Dec 11 2012
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Shakir "Shakir Bahzad" (Saskatoon, SK, Canada) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots (Paperback)
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
3.0 out of 5 stars More Bookish Thoughts..., June 10 2012
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Reader Writer Runner (Victoria, BC) - See all my reviews
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"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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5.0 out of 5 stars amaizing, June 19 2014
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This review is from: Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots (Paperback)
Love the book !!! I had reconnection or flash back with my own childhood, even thought I come from different culture.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Rejecting a sect is one thing, putting out dirty laundry is another, April 7 2014
By 
Rick M. Pilotte "Author, artist, and solver o... (Victoria BC Canada) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots (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. Though the names were changed to protect certain people spoken of, it would have to be painfully obvious who she was writing about to those that knew her. Her distasteful dragging through the mud of her husband and his relatives was little more than shallow vicious gossip. It was an attack with the most private segments of married life laid bare for all to witness under the guise ‘informing’ the public. She could have put the practices and beliefs out there without the dirty laundry, But instead it came across like whining and making excuses for her behaviour and “poor me’s” trying to justify to we who read her rejection of her lifestyle, and comes across worse than Feminists attacks on all men. And indeed she ends up identifying herself as a feminist. I wonder if twisted religious beliefs around the world, along with selfish men in the secular business world, combined with Hollywood, haven’t turned so many women away from Faith and men, in favour of hateful rebellions attacks toward the same.

Though she appears to have the opportunity to compare her Hasidic religious roots to the alternatives Jewish segments out there, she chooses rather to reject it all in favour of “freedom”, not grasping that lives of sin or Secularism, are every bit as enslaving too, becoming slaves to our desires instead. She does however note that she has to bring up her child in orthodox ways in order to keep him and I would hope at some point she would compare various Jewish lifestyles and beliefs to her former Hasidic lifestyle and glean valuable truths and values from them.
She also does make interesting observations of how her getting American secular clothing and mingling with secular American women and then consequently finding no differences in how women in general perceive and revolve around the things and status’ in their lives despite religious or non religious views.
Thus the latter half of the book in general undoes any positive comprehension of the Hasidic Jews the first half makes clear as we get repulsed by her whining and laying out of dirty laundry to justify her own direction and divorce.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Sad upbringing of children, March 31 2014
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Very sad that this exists. I am a Christian and love the Jewish people. But according to the Bible, that is no how God wants children to be raised. We have a loving God.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Truly scandalous, Jan. 31 2014
This review is from: Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots (Paperback)
This is a very insightful memoir that raises mixed feelings. It is written with passion and portrays the way of life of the Hasidic Satmar community in New York in ways that I did not know before. It also gives one a better understanding of Hasidim Judaism not only in America, but in Israel and Eastern Europe where it originated. I did further research after reading this novel, so I applaud it for piquing my curiosity. This book might not be considered by some people as a masterpiece, but it certainly is the best I have read so far on the subject. Like Disciples of Fortune, it touched an aspect of Judaism many people are hazy about, or even consider mysterious. I hope books like this come out telling the word about other mysterious sects and practices found in the different religions. The world needs it, especially in our times.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Truth in the Orthodox world, Nov. 14 2013
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I was enlightened by the facts in this story of an Orthodox Satmar girl growing up in her confined community in New York. The Author taught me many things I did not know about that community. Very interesting book.
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2.0 out of 5 stars No depth, Aug. 31 2013
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This review is from: Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots (Paperback)
There was something about this book that struck me as shallow and insincere. It was interesting what the author omitted - such as information about her relationship with her mother
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great reading, July 31 2013
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It took a lot of courage for the writer to tell us the inner workings of the Hassidic Sect. There were a lot of things that I didn't know about even though I'm Jewish.
I felt for her every step of the way and although not everyone will agree with me, I'm happy for her because she has her freedom. There's not "one size fits all" in our religion and life is all about choices.

I saw the book as a story about one courageous woman's journey to live her life the way that she wants. Too bad that she had to make some painful sacrifices.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Eyeopening view of a community, April 13 2013
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Her isolation from the outside world is very well told. Brought up with distant love and unprepared for what adult life was to bring, she tell a compelling story of growth and escape. It felt incomplete near the end when we read and afterword about a writing group/class/friends whom she thanks for helping her find her voice. That journey would have made a great component within the book.
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Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots
Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots by Deborah Feldman (Paperback - Oct. 2 2012)
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