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

A young woman grows up in the extremely conservative Satmar group of Hasidic Jews, and the failure of her arranged marriage leads her to yearn for freedom.

I was very impressed by Deborah Feldman when I heard her on the Leonard Lopate show, and I was inspired to read her memoir Unorthodox. I am fascinated by strict religious groups, particularly when their practices elevate men and demean women. I loved Deborah’s honesty and insight into the way her identity was shaped by her upbringing, but also how she had a spark inside her that couldn’t be stifled. For example, she would sneak out to the library and hide contraband copies of classic works by Austen and Dickens under her mattress because her grandfather wouldn’t allow English to be spoken or read in his home. Feldman has worked so hard to carve out a life for herself as a single mom with no high school diploma, and I truly wish her all the best.

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