Sunday, February 5, 2012

Escape from Williamsburg: A Memoir of a young woman going off the derech

“Unorthodox” is a memoir about a young woman who has a lot of opinions. But in the ultra-Orthodox Hasidic world of Brooklyn’s Williamsburg, opinions in general, and certainly those of young women, are not appreciated.

I grew up in a similar world nearby, the Hasidic world of Boro Park. Reading “Unorthodox” was like seeing a variation on my own life mapped out meticulously, down to the last traditional detail. I found it oddly compelling, visiting scenes and dialogues that so perfectly encompass a world so familiar. When Deborah and her older cousin, Mimi, go to an ice skating rink, a young girl offers Deborah a Hershey chocolate kiss and tells her that it’s kosher:[...]


  1. Recipients and PublicityFebruary 5, 2012 at 11:07 PM

    These young women have become known as "too-na buy-gels" because they use the Chasidic pronunciations even after dropping Yiddishkeit r"l.

    They don't get that a "bagel" (with tuna fish) is pronounced "bei-gel" and not "buy-gel" --even when ordering in a treif store, and they are made fun of for that.

    It's become a kind of sad pejorative noun for them, like of, "is she a tuna buy-gal" meaning is she a Chasidic girl or woman off the derech, that's also being used for guys off the derech? Very sad.

  2. This little piece is enough to see the bitter soul in this woman who needs a lot of Heavenly assistants. 3/4 of this article is nothing but lies and fantasy in order to justify her means for leaving her haredi upbringing. May this poor soul come back to the fold and may her parents still see nachas from her.

  3. "These young women have become known as "too-na buy-gels" because they use the Chasidic pronunciations even after dropping Yiddishkeit r"l."

    That's not what my Rabbeim taught me. I always learned that it's the one's that keep the Levush and stay in the community but don't keep all the Mitzvos the way they should.

  4. Recipients and PublicityFebruary 7, 2012 at 10:57 PM

    Before Satmar "makes sholom" with Belz, maybe it should make peace with its own people first.

    It's now a story, and interview, in The New York Post:

    "I was a Hasidic Jew - but I broke free

    After an uber-strict childhood and an arranged marriage at 17, Deborah Feldman decided she’d had enough


    Updated: February 7, 2012
    Posted: February 6, 2012

    Sitting in a cozy Upper East Side restaurant, 25-year-old Deborah Feldman stashes her copy of “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” in her handbag and greets the chef, who’s come out to say hello. Clad in a miniskirt, semi-sheer sweater and cowboy boots, this confident, stylish young woman seems every bit your typical New Yorker. Then she begins to talk about her background.

    Until two years ago, Feldman was part of the ultra-conservative Hasidic Satmar community based in Williamsburg. Abandoned by a mother who left the faith and a father who was mentally disabled, she was taken in by her grandparents, who brought her up to be a quiet, obedient, God-fearing woman who would get married in her teens and start a large family right away.

    But Feldman had other plans.

    In her memoir, “Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots,” out Feb. 14, she chronicles her oppressive upbringing and arranged marriage.

    At 23, emboldened by classes at Sarah Lawrence College, she left her husband and the community for good — taking her 3-year-old son with her.

    Feldman recently discussed her experiences with The Post over (very nonkosher) crabcake sandwiches and Key lime tarts: “I think I love eating out more than most people,” she says, “because I was never allowed to do it. Women aren’t allowed to eat out.”

    THE POST: From a very early age, Hasidic girls are expected to wear skirts and shirts that  cover them down to their wrists and ankles. But during your adolescence the law became even more restrictive.

    FELDMAN: When I was 11, they changed the clothing rules. You used to be able to wear a long-sleeve, high-neck T-shirt. Now you can only wear high-neck blouses, with woven fabrics, because their theory is that woven fabrics don’t cling. T-shirts show boobs.

    If you had a curvy body, then there was something wrong with you. No matter what I wore, the school principal always had a problem with me, because I’m a little Kardashian-esque and I developed young. My principal would walk by and slap me on the ass and be like, “Your skirt shows too much.”..."

  5. "I was a Hasidic Jew - but I broke free"

    How eloquent!

    Personally, I think this might be the freaky exception that proves the rule. I mean, it's hard to believe that these types of stuff are not only going on, but have been regulated as part of the rules.
    Also, why doesn't she name the principal? And why no ubiquitos lawsuit? Something is a bit strange here.
    I'll eat my words if these types of stories become a flood. Till then, the NY Post remains NY Post


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