Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Deborah Feldman talks about what it’s like inside the Satmar sect of Hasidic Judaism. In her memoir, Unorthodox, she reveals what life is like in a religious tradition that she believes values silence and suffering over individual freedoms, and what happened when she rejected her Hasidic roots.


Deborah Feldman

Comments [39]

I find this young women very disturbing 1. Religion is neither a problem nor the root of all evil. It is the believer, who ever that may be that is the devil, the choice is in the hands and mind of each individual and I can prove that with the forums posted on the net. Believers and non believers, you have loving and hating posts so don't get confused, religious normal god fearing people don't go around fighting killing raping stealing nor lying do your homework do a survey and you will see that the hater or the evil individual personalities whether religious, atheist or secular call them as you please, they will do anything from complaining to killing no reason other than being "evil" and then just the opposite is true to the kind and loving individual personalities, they can be religious atheist or secular and only good will come from this individual 2. being uneducated is totally false I have many Satmar "sect" friends being accountants office managers EMTs nurses and so on, I happen to be a Reb. and I have several degrees computer science I actually even taught it on a higher level I was an EMT and Duala. with many other very exciting talents which is really not the point here I just want to be and have an interest in higher education so I am no one can make you feel inferior but yourself so back to the point you are the problem no one else not religion or friends nor parents your old enough to make your own decisions by denying your past is immature and no one is at fault but yourself somedays the sun shines and some days it's cloudy.

Mar. 08 2012 08:06 PM
Plutogirl from New Jersey

Bruchy, who elected you spokesperson for world Jewry? Many Jews are extremely proud of her for being brave enough to escape a life of imprisonment not very different from that under the Taliban. The "entire Jewish world" is NOT incensed just because you are. Some people are non-conformists and not meant to live in a fundamentalist community that makes everyone follow a cookie cutter lifestyle taking no account for individuality. Some of us don't find spirituality in following all those rules. Nobody speaks for world Jewry, and you have a lot of nerve to presume to do so when the ultra Orthodox are a tiny minority of the Jewish population. These are the nuts who raised money for the PLO when Israel was at war with them in the 80s.

Abe, on how many sites have you posted your Kardashian nonsense? The Kardashians are not attractive; they're fake, phony cheap trash. Deborah is a million times more beautiful than they are. She's obviously smart enough to write a well-written book. What have you published lately?

It's one thing for these fundies to choose this lifestyle as adults, but how dare they force it on their kids, denying them any choice as to how they want to live? Let your kids be themselves and stop living through them and insisting they just be mini-versions of what you are.

Feb. 26 2012 12:53 AM
leena from Crooklyn, NY

When we speak of the "benefits of the lifestyle," one must admit that they are, without restriction, selfish.

$13 for a "kosher" watermelon, $7 for a loaf bread, tens of thousands of early morning honking (225 yeshiva buses honking hundreds of times each, inevitably an illegal after-market horn to be extra intrusive.... the list goes on.

13 years here, and have never met one Satmar or Bobov who walks the talk.
One mother recently threatened to take her little boys out of yeshiva, expecting a full refund for the year, because her sons are repeatedly mugged by other ten-year-olds who learned from their parents how to utter horrific threats, so, now, any week that the two boys are NOT mugged, everyone in their classes gets a reward.

The world is begged to understand that the Japanese are correct in stating that the louder you say it, the less you mean it. Ultra-religious? Ultra-non-yidden is more accurate. What makes me the most Jewish individual amidst tens of thousands of pretenders is that I live very modestly, and give very immodestly, and after nearly 14 years, I would know if there were another like me.

Every religion has its whackos, except Buddhism. Ms. Feldman merits a great deal of respect for having the courage to risk her very life to speak. Applause all the way, and down with the haters, the "volunteers" who abuse siren privileges, and those who honk with visceral rage at their circumcision (NOBODY honks as do the people in frum neighborhoods, not even in Italy or Japan).

Feb. 25 2012 06:27 PM

Boy, one thing is for sure; brainwashed religious-types clearly suffer from paranoid psychosis. D_g forbid anyone should challenge their very narrow worldview.

Feb. 24 2012 08:34 AM
gray from deven port

injoy life potz your IQ is more like your fathers

Feb. 23 2012 05:43 PM
bruchy from new jersey

The entire Jewish world is incensed, on a scale unheard of in the past. Deborah's fabrications hit a nerve within world Jewry and made even a lot of non-Hasidic Jews very angry and for very obvious reasons. She sold her soul for a little fame and money, like those Kapos who sold their souls to the Nazi devil.

What follows are the best quotes from an article written by a modern-Orthodox Jew:

Deborah Feldman is a media whore who lied about something so gruesome as a litle kid being murdered and she deserves to be taken down and run out of town...
Deborah Feldman really shot herself in the foot, in a similar way that Sara Hurwitz did. Sara Hurwitz was the first orthodox woman rabbi, yet she failed to fully cover her hair and that’s where she went wrong...
Feldman could have a bestseller on her hands, yes it will influence those who hate us (if they hated us already, it probably doesn’t take much to incite them) but prior to learning of her stupid recklessness by proposing asinine conspiracy theories about someone who shouldn’t be talked about in such ways, she has ruined it for everyone...
One of the mistakes many people who are calling “all” the chassidim ignorant or closed minded are making is that many of these people have it way better off than we do. They don’t live a life of sex, drugs and money or materialism, stress over college, good careers or whatever else we “modern orthodox” Jews do. Ignorance may be too strong a word, but it truly can be bliss. You have this tight knit community that takes care of its own, as long as they stay within the realm of their religiosity – there is no more abuse or scandal than any other tight knit fundamentalist community. The same people whop lump all Chassidim and Charedim into groups of people they hate are just as ignorant as racists, homophobes and anti-Semites. Neither I nor anyone who didn’t grow up Chassidish can ever truly know what it was like...

Feb. 23 2012 05:08 PM
issy from new york

In her interviews and in her book she attacks and reticules Jewish costumes and laws that are practiced by all religious Jews and not just hasidim she hates religious people and this is an attack against all religious Americans.she made fun of mariage laws that are practiced by every religious jew for the last 3 thousand years, and secular liberals love it when u attack religious people whether its true or not thats a different story her book is full of lies.

Feb. 23 2012 04:59 PM
muti from new jersey

This woman is gull of lies i am a very proud hasidic jew and i am attending graduate school like many other hasidim.

Feb. 23 2012 04:54 PM
Keith from ID

Michael Hoffman a well known Holocaust denier, Anti Semite and Racist gave a 6 star review on the book:

Feb. 23 2012 02:08 AM

Listening to the interview with a very sad young lady I am left with the feeling that the primary cause of her dissatisfaction with her life was the desertion of her own mother. In a community where it is common for families to have 10 or even more children, one would think there must be sex going on. A 17 year old Chasidic girl would normally discuss such intimate things as the inability to consummate a marriage with her mother and it is too bad that was not a possibility. To her credit, in several interviews and articles, I have seen Feldman forego any opportunity to criticize her ex-husband. Hopefully her son will manage to navigate his way between two worlds and find happiness and fulfillment. As for Deborah, you have written your piece. If you are a true author, let's see you move on and show us you can do more than dish dirt.

Feb. 23 2012 01:23 AM

"she reveals what life is like in a religious tradition that values silence and suffering over individual freedoms,"
I am a loyal WNYC listener and Orthodox Jew. I am so disappointed that you chose to post the above description on your website. I think that Leonard did a wonderful job and conducted a fair interview. I appreciated listening to Ms. Feldman. But, the Chasidic way of life does not value silence and suffering. I am sorry that Ms. Feldman suffered. I wish her well. For WNYC to stigmatize an entire community with such a broad paintbrush, well, that's just not liberalism at its best, now is it?

Feb. 23 2012 12:06 AM

...definitely weird.

Feb. 22 2012 10:44 PM
Chana Schechter from Monsey, NY

to: dboy,
Being that I just came home from a very long vacation, with my, extremely "happy", husband, and seeing as everything is "status quo" with Feldman, I decided to stick my Orthodox nose into the "pool. I'm not writing a book, hence, I'm not required to do any major editing. When you text most of the day, ur eys, and fngrs do mst of the tlkng.
You can have your opinion, but the 17 years I spent teaching English Lit, is proof enough to me, my happy, educated, students, and my own children, who are at 10th grade and college level reading and writing. Keep in mind, it took me minutes to write what I wrote, whereas it would take your "average Joe" much more time. Even my own Psych professor, in COLLEGE, couldn't write to save his life. (ooh, the C word, I can't be Frum, and I'm not a "return to my Jewish roots" woman either, just a Chassidishe woman who lives a regular, stable, fulfilling, exciting at times, life. You should try it sometime.)
Shacking it aways, Mrs. C Schechter

Feb. 22 2012 10:15 PM
John Caldone from Utah

Chana Schechter,

Thanks for sharing, from reading the book it portrays Hasidic women as sowing all day and taking care of the kids and not knowing what a website is.

John Caldone

Feb. 22 2012 09:20 PM

Thank D_g for they brave woman!!

Thank you for your story. Please keep up the fine work.

Very interesting.

Feb. 22 2012 08:58 PM

@Chana Schechter from Monsey, NY

We haven't heard you speak but you're definitely a little shaky on the written portion of the exam!!

Feb. 22 2012 08:57 PM
Chana Schechter from Monsey, NY

As an ultra-Orthodox woman, from Viznitz sect, in Monsey, NY, who not only speak a perfect English, but writes it as well. I am shocked to here all of the "way over exaggerated" things that have been allowed to be spoken, in regards to the Religious Jewish PEOPLE. I realize, on your part, having no knowledge of Orthodox way of life in general, that you would be curious as to how we lead our lives, but there is a quote I use quite often now, "lack of knowledge makes you a fool". How can you listen to someone who has known anger issues, has been caught, many times, contradicting herself, and has to put Jewish TRADITIONS on trial? Don't you think she needs to be put on the spot, and asked why her, so called "Memoirs", involve slenderizing her own people? Just for arguments sake, and for informative measures, many women drive, including myself, and it's not looked at as strange, neither does going on the internet, obviously. There a many different levels amongst the Orthox, and each person does what they, themselves, feel comfortable doing. Satmar, the largest Chassidik sect in the world, has many different levels too, and families differ from each other in many ways, no two homes are the same. The hate mail, which Devorah mentions, is from people who are angered at how she portrayed the Religious Community, AS A WHOLE, and how she is trying to, deviously, bring others, who are not so stable in their marriages or lives, go on the path of "giving up".
My point is,and I will make it totally clear, in English, only a few fanatics, like the FEW people Devorah was unlucky to meet, is anything like she describes in her book. She mentions about our private lives in her book, and what HER bride teacher taught her, and what we are and aren't allowed to do. Everyone in the Religious Chassidik and not Chassidik Communities know that the wives come first, always, and nothing that the husband asks for is wrong, anything, but he has to have his wife's approval first. My children read J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter, and the school knew about, they have, a long with their classmates, use and know plenty about "YOUR WORLD", including the internet, big deal. "Hell has no fury like a woman scorned", to put it lightly. So wake up and smell the "pay back".
Mrs. C Schechter/sister of DG
ps. If you, or anyone else you know, have questions about how things really are in the Religious world, and I don't mean Satmar in Monroe, because she said the ENTIRE Chassidik Community, go for a walk in Boro Park, and see how happy the women are to shop, eat out in restaurants, and speak English, fluently!

Feb. 22 2012 07:41 PM


Feb. 22 2012 06:59 PM



Feb. 22 2012 05:30 PM

"...I'd love to see DNA genomic testing on them to see if they have any Middle Eastern genes at all."

I'll bet you would jaggerbuttz!!

How about the concept of folks just being who they are regardless of genetic testing!!

You sound as sick as a white supremacist!

"My genes are purer than yours!"

Nutz! Completely NUTZ!!

Feb. 22 2012 05:27 PM

G_d bless you!!!

RUN, do not walk from religious lunacy!!!

You've made a brave and necessary decision.

RUN and don't look back!!

Feb. 22 2012 05:23 PM
adrienne from NYC


When Islamic terrorists attacted the towers they did it in the name of Islam.Pretty recently in history, millions of people did try to slaughter Jews and our culture, is that what you are interested in? We Jews are descended from an ancent people and have brought much to the modern liberal world, think about it

Feb. 22 2012 04:34 PM

Feldman comes from a broken family.Her family was totally dysfunctional.It is not the norm. What she says is her own personal experience.
Her sexual experiences are her own not everyone's.
She is one individual case. What about all the love and warmth in the orthodox home. Her story is hers alone .
Simon and Schuster I am appalled at your lack of checking into her misguided information.You should be ashamed to how low you will stoop for greed.Taking advantage of a young confused kid who has no clue how to go about in the secular world.For a buck you whored yourself,shame on corporate America that Simon and Schuster is part of you.
She says orthodox women have no education, reading level fourth grade. Is she nuts. What about all the women in our community who have masters in hundreds of fields. Women who have their own businesses. This women has an anger problem that has nothing to do with the orthodox hassidic sect.
A book which is all about lies lies and lies.

Feb. 22 2012 03:56 PM
Anonymous from NJ

To Keren,

The 5 EX Satmar women READ the book, also Deborah Feldman LONG ago accused the father of boy of Murder in her fefunct blog Hasidic Feminist. Also things are coming to light that people in the know, who know her EX husband is saying that he never even told her this.

Thank God for the Internet, 30 years ago I would have belived Deborah Feldman story just like I belived Tawna Brawly fabricated story, because there was no Internet 30 years ago:

But thanks to the Internet the truth has come out Feldman is Farce, I m not Hasiedic I have my beef with Satmar, I respect Hella Winston on her work.

Feb. 22 2012 02:34 PM

"So, as far as male lineage goes, the genetic story is very clear. Palestinians and Jews are virtually indistinguishable."

sounds to me like factions fight for power, not god

Feb. 22 2012 01:39 PM

Semitic people are jewish AND palestinians . They share the same genes.

Inbreeding was soo successful that all the jews of the world share genes.

This religious nonsense about who is this or that is ridiculous. There is inbreeding going on. GROSS.

Feb. 22 2012 01:36 PM
Henry from Manhattan

I find this enthralling.

I don't know what to even say.

Go forth and enjoy life Deborah Feldman, but clearly don’t need me to tell you this.

Feb. 22 2012 01:31 PM from Queens

It's interesting that the Satmar and Naturei Karta, both of which reject Zionism and the State of Israel, and whose traditions are closer to the Taliban, except no AK-47s, are most of Hungarian Jewry, and more likly to be of Khazar Turkic convert heritate than Polish or other European Jewry> The consider themselves the "most authentic" Jews, and yet they probably are among the further from actual Middle Eastern origins. I'd love to see DNA genomic testing on them to see if they have any Middle Eastern genes at all.

Feb. 22 2012 01:27 PM

Anonymous from NJ, none of the people on unpious had read the book and they were focused on a NY Post article which isn't a source known for veracity. As for the murder/suicide she told what she heard from a Hatzolah member who was her husband, hoping for investigation. It might have been better left out.

Feb. 22 2012 01:26 PM

after 9/11, it was common place for americans to put down Islam because of the way the religion regards women. Yet judiasm, which worships the same god, also treats women like lesser people. These ancient religions need to go away as they are the main reason humanity has yet to evolve to the next level. Mind control isn't reality.

Feb. 22 2012 01:25 PM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

Abe would love to spit in her face, for her "immodestly." Blame it on the Willyburg hipsters - Dear Hasidic LL's, stop renting to hipsters, they are corrupting your kids. LOL

Feb. 22 2012 01:23 PM

furthermore, it amazes me women in 2012 could be part of a religion that values them so little and controls them like they are a disease. wake up!

Feb. 22 2012 01:22 PM

its amazing how much discourse there is in the orthodox community. It's almost like you all cant get along with each other. Pretty boring topic. Id rather hear about the rabbis recently arrested in the conspiracy plot in jersey city. Funny how those who claim to be the closest to god are the biggest thieves

Feb. 22 2012 01:21 PM
joshie from nyc

abe, in all fairness, u have done precisely what u claim she has...being mean spirited, unfair and overly generalizing...the backhanded insults dont fool anyone, as do ur motives...ur part of a dying beast, a member of a cult that systematically abuses and keeps minorities and women down...but the game is over, information is too prevalent now and people can get their story is quite fun watching u guys kick n scream as ur lil space gets smaller n smaller...enjoy the last few years of keepin ur women and children down...the jig is up;)

Feb. 22 2012 12:26 PM
art525 from Park Slope

It seems to me Abe that what you have expressed here is what you have accuse her of- "hate, mockery, meanness and exaggeration".

Feb. 22 2012 12:05 PM
Abe A from USA

No such thing. In her eyes, the Orthodox lifestyle is all nonsense and shes the brilliant enlightened heroine who can transform the lives of everyone who is religious and naive, if they'd only experience the sweetness of her freedom. She has the key to the door of true happiness. She feels she has the recipe for happiness and freedom. It’s not, it’s a recipe for confusion. I pity her for her pain and confusion and newfound aimless free fun, but I pity her son more, for having to live with and learn life’s lessons from a hateful, guiltless, vengeful person, who smugly chooses to mock and ridicule. With all this she hopes to come out looking like a saviour for her efforts. A modern day saint.

Shes having fun and enjoying popularity with her mission now. She’s a conversation piece at the moment. What will she do for excitement next, when the buzz wears down? Who really respects her for her cheap and nasty mud slinging? So people are getting an enjoyable read. How long will the media be interested in her? Not one second longer than the next scandalous book gets published.

Kardashian she's not. No beauty. Not her fault, not her choice.
Einstein she's not. No genius. Not her fault, not her choice.
Joan Rivers she's not. No comedienne. Not her fault, not her choice.
Just a babbling buffoon, a seethingly hateful person whose uppermost goal is fun.
And that IS her choice.
She is an example of what not to become, what not to aspire to be, capitalizing on hate, mockery, meanness and exaggeration.

Feb. 21 2012 11:52 PM
Abe A from USA

So she gets to wear sequined minis and has a more varied menu than those in the Orthodox community do, she enjoys fantasizing about a salacious blissful love life, and has lots of publicity in her life right now, with everyone famous calling to interview her, due to her using her overabundant energy to blacken her very own ancestors and very own blood relatives and making them all out to be foolish robotic dodos. She totally omits any reference to Chassidic and Orthodox people throughout the world, who have contributed much to society, among them medical doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists, law school deans and professors, scientists, inventors, technological geniuses and more. Its as if her view of the people she chose to describe are the only kind of Chassidim there are. A little clarification on this point would have been nice as a broader picture.

Had she been using her overabundant energy to become a doctor or inventor of some kind to make lives easier, or to encourage education, or had she taken on any noble cause, without the negativity and ridicule she employs, I might have been able to understand her, and find some redeeming qualities. But no, all she wants to do is defame the religious practices of her forefathers, instead of just living a normal accomplished, less religious or even totally irreligious life, privately without negativity and finger pointing.

Had she at least attempted to balance her negativity by pointing to some of the many virtues and benefits existing in her former lifestyle and admit that even though she doesn't agree or believe or doesn't have innate discipline, there's beauty in this lifestyle and it has many gainful attributes, she might have deserved some respect. After all even a broken clock is right twice a day. Orthodoxy has to be good in at least some ways, even to those who choose not to practice. (cont)

Feb. 21 2012 11:51 PM

Is there a live call in? I'd relish the idea of challenging her many statements on air

Feb. 21 2012 09:27 PM
Anonymous from NJ

5 Former EX Satmar women are saying that Feldman fabricated many of her stories they are NOT hasidc women, Hella Winston the famed Author of the "Unchosen" has identified many fabrications in this book, read more here:

Also read here how Feldman fabricated another story, these claims are from SECULAR Jews, NOT Hasidic as Feldman claims that only Satmars are smearing her, this is NOT true, read here:

Feb. 21 2012 09:07 PM

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