Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots by Deborah Feldman
Publisher: Simon & Schuster • Published On: October 12, 2012
When Unorthodox was published in 2012, I remember learning about the book and wanting to read it, but of course I forgot to add the book to my Goodreads to be read list and quickly forgot about it. Fast forward to last year when I became obsessed with the Israeli TV show Shtisel and wanted to watch anything the cast was in and learned that Shira Haas would be starring in the Netflix miniseries for Unorthdox, and the book was back on my radar. I loved the miniseries and if you haven’t watched it I highly recommend it, and after waiting months for my library to have a Kindle copy, I was finally able to read Deborah’s memoir.
The miniseries deviates a lot from the book, which I did know before I started reading. I consider myself to be a Reform Jew and I was lucky to grow up in a town on Long Island made up of all movements of Judaism. I have friends who believe in all different movements and would get glimpses into how their form of Judaism was different than mine, but to this day, there is still so much I do not know. The Satmar group, which Deborah originally belonged to is one that I have only recently begun to learn about.
Unorthodox gave me an inside look into a community I could never get close enough to know. At times, it was tough to read the things she went through because of the freedom I had growing up to read anything I wanted, sing whenever I felt like it, and the opportunity I had to choose what I wanted to do with my life after high school.
I would have liked to have learned how she was able to escape the Satmar community with her son since I know how hard it is to get a divorce in the Hasidic communities. In the end, I feel like there were some questions that still needed answers, but maybe that just means she’ll have another memoir to answer those in a few years.
If you have watched the miniseries, I highly recommend reading Deborah’s memoir to really understand what her life was like and why she chose to escape it.