Memoir called "Unorthodox" and its effect on us

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  • #601959

    Yesterday there was a ton of publicity all over the net and in newspapers about the upcoming release of a book called “Unorthodox”. This book is a memoir of a woman named Deborah Feldman, who apparently is a former Satmar from Williamsburg, and is being published by a large publishing house with their full PR machine in action. Right up front, she admits that she came from a highly dysfunctional family – her father was mentally ill and her mother went off when she was still a child. She was raised by her grandparents. My reason for posting this is that I was shocked by the amount of positive response to her story – people seem to feel that she was writing the story of a woman escaping from the Taliban. Between the recent incidents in Israel and this, the frum velt has had a lot of negative publicity lately. What can we do to reverse the tide? Our books about those who do tshuva are only published by our own book companies, and never get this kind of main stream exposure.

    #868333

    greatest
    Member

    Who cares what the anti-semites (of the Jewish variety or the non-Jewish variety) write about us? They don’t need the truth. They constantly invent whatever lies fills their agenda as they go along. Nothing we do will change that.

    #868334

    soliek
    Member

    who cares?

    i saw the article, i may even attend her book talk, but the honest answer is…who cares?

    #868335

    BTGuy
    Participant

    Hi AWOB.

    I am not familiar with the book, but we can only hope readers will understand the book defines that family, and not Judaism.

    You bring up an excellent point. Stories associated with bad conduct by orthodox Jews make the front page like no other stories, but the good stories are only known by us, it seems.

    The more I learn, the more it puzzles me as to why there are anti-semites. I often think to myself that if people really knew what Torah-true Judaism is, they would see it’s truth, beauty, and intelligence, and see it as being the foremost representation of Good.

    But amazing stories of amazing people like the baal chesed and the one who is mivatur and the one who strengthens their devotion to Hashem all resulting in amazing things, are known only to us. Why? I really don’t know.

    #868336

    🍫Syag Lchochma
    Participant

    The faith of every Yid will be tested as we approach moshiach. This was put out there by the Y”H hoping to snag a few more neshamos. We need to be strong in emuna and spread that to others. I’m not sure that the effect on the goyim is the point.

    #868338

    farrockaway
    Member

    You meant effect not affect. Affect is a verb as in “to affect”.

    #868339

    zahavasdad
    Participant

    You should be happy the article was posted yesterday

    Most people in NY were not interested in reading such an article as other events were going on in the city

    #868340

    popa_bar_abba
    Participant

    I haven’t read the book- just the article in the post. (Which I don’t know why this link was allowed).

    But, I think it reflects rather positively on us. She very notably doesn’t say anything bad about the community. She doesn’t say that she felt abused or made inferior by the men in her life. She doesn’t say that it was repressive or controlling.

    She was able to leave, and even get custody of her kid, and nobody bothered her. She sees her ex to share the kid, and he doesn’t spit on her.

    She is a bit scared about publishing the book- but we have no idea if those fears have any basis, nor does she.

    I’m feelin’ pretty good to be frum today.

    #868341

    I would love to write a book about how my family became frum and how we were saved from the Gehenom of the secular world with its complete lack of decency or modesty, or any values to speak of (besides just doing whatever you want…). I would love to write it and really tell what it means to live a meaningful life of serving Hashem versus an empty life surrounded by sheker and blindly painfully searching for truth sometimes in all the wrong places … but who would publish it? This is not what interests these people. They are interested in stories like the one above…

    #868342

    Ive read up on some of what are her direct quotes. She says she sends her child to a Modern Orthodox school, but eats crab sandwiches. Huh?

    #868343

    Feif Un
    Participant

    It should affect us, because if you read the interview, you’ll see some of the things she mentions are 100% correct. People are jumping to accept the chumrah of the month, not thinking of the effect it might have. Buses separated for men and women? R’ Moshe Feinstein zt”l wrote in the Igros that l’chatchila you can sit next to a woman on a bus or subway – and he didn’t mean a frum woman dressed properly, he meant a non-Jewish woman.

    Women not allowed to walk on the street after a certain time at night? What is this, Nazi Germany, where people weren’t allowed out at night? Why shouldn’t women be allowed out?

    The fact is that some people are so eager to appear more and more frum that they lose sight of the big picture. Some of these chumros have no real basis, and they create a huge chillul Hashem, and drive people off the derech.

    edited. You can opine they have no real basis if you wish, that is a halachic point. You cannot say they are pointless- that is a lie and you know it. You know there is a point, you just don’t agree with it. Say that.

    #868344

    ratzon
    Member

    There are great older girls who are seriously considering going OTD bec of the Shidduch crisis and difficulty getting dates, with very small prospect of ever marrying in the frum community. Hopefully they wont act on their thoughts.

    #868345

    sushee
    Member

    Popa: That she was able to leave and that she obtained custody is a negative not a positive.

    Feif: Rav Moshe allows sitting on a subway next to a woman since there is no other choice. If there is an ability to seperate, he holds that is better. But this is irrelevant to this rashanta in any event.

    #868346

    popa_bar_abba
    Participant

    The fact is that some people are so eager to appear more and more frum that they lose sight of the big picture. Some of these chumros have no real basis, and they create a huge chillul Hashem, and drive people off the derech.

    I don’t really feel like talking about chumros again, but I do want to make this point.

    I don’t think you should be jumping on this chumros make us look bad bandwagon. The things that you do make us look just as bad. The MO community is not at all insulated from modern critique that they discriminate and hide women.

    For example:

    You require women to dress modestly, to always cover their torso, to not go swimming in public, etc. Seems to me that if your men have a problem, they should deal with it themselves.

    You don’t allow your women to be witnesses in court, or to be judges in court. Seems to me that you are locking women out of the authority and communal leadership.

    You don’t allow women to divorce their husbands, a man marries a woman by “buying” her. Seems to me like you think men own their wives.

    You consider a woman to be dirty and unclean for half the month, you say you aren’t allowed to touch women. Seems to me like you think women are an underclass of “untouchables”.

    You see what I mean? The goyim have plenty enough to make fun of which is actual halacha. Don’t think that it is just our chumrah’s that they look down on- it’s you also. The only reason they are focusing on chareidim recently, is because the other frum people are calling attention to it.

    “First they came for the chareidim, but I did not care, because I was not chareidi.” Just look at what’s going on in the army in Israel, they’re coming for you.

    #868347

    MiddlePath
    Participant

    I don’t think she is against Judaism, and I don’t think anyone thinks that. I think the point was that religious extremism, in its attempt to strive closer to G-d and further from the outside world, is not the best way of life for her. There is nothing about that that puts Judaism in a bad light. It may just be putting extremism in a bad light, but even then, it is clear that such a lifestyle does work for some people. But with any extremism, there will always be people that simply can’t handle it, and I think everyone understands that. As Jews, it is important to find a place in Judaism where we can reach our full potential, and that is different for everyone.

    #868348

    gavra_at_work
    Participant

    There are great older girls who are seriously considering going OTD bec of the Shidduch crisis and difficulty getting dates, with very small prospect of ever marrying in the frum community. Hopefully they wont act on their thoughts.

    Off topic, but I wouldn’t blame them.

    #868349

    zahavasdad
    Participant

    What was Adam HaRishons real Aveirah

    Hashem told him not to EAT of the Etz hadaas.

    Adom told Chava not to TOUCH the tree. Adom thought it was a great chumrah and added this “Mitzvah”

    #868350

    I can relate to much of what you say, BTGuy and yiddishemishpacha. That really was my point in starting the topic. We, here on the inside know very well about not only all the different nuances within the frum community, but more importantly, the tremendous amount of goodness that generates from us. From Deborah’s own community, Satmar Bikur Cholim is a prime example.

    However, since most secular Jews see us in one lump sum called “Orthodox”, her story becomes our story. Her story goes mainstream, and next thing you know, secular Jews are sure that this is how we live. Perhaps one of my main concerns is the impact this can have on kiruv, or even general goodwill.

    #868351

    zahavasdad
    Participant

    You see Bikur Cholim, the secular see Back of the Bus and the Zip Lock bag

    #868352

    Sam2
    Participant

    PBA: I don’t think his point is that competing for more and more Chumros makes us look bad in the eyes of the Goyim, but that it makes us look silly to other Jews who know Halachah.

    #868353

    soliek
    Member

    ugh…heres why it doesnt matter.

    the secular world looks at us and calls us backwards. we stay celibate until marriage, we encourage modesty, we discourage drunk and disorderly conduct, we dress respectably, we act respectably, we watch our tongues, we love and fear our God, and we follow the Torah. so they call us backwards. they look at our laws and our customs and they denigrate them. but when they meet us, when they talk to us, when they interact with is, they are left with a feeling of wonder.

    we, the backwards relics of the middle ages, the antithesis of societal progress and enlightenment, constantly shock the secular world with our actions, with our kindness, and with our lifestyle. when we strive to constantly make a kiddush hashem, to constantly improve and to be an ohr lagoyim, we make books like these absolutely irrelevant.

    so i see no point in making a big stink about this, in trying to negate the PR, trying to rebut the claims, because i know that i dont need to write a book countering this one; i know that i dont need to get MY interview in the post. i know that by living my life according to the torah i negate everything in that book, and every negative perception of jews and judaism. and thats all that matters.

    #868354

    BTGuy
    Participant

    Hi AWOB.

    The book is PURE PROPAGANDA and written with a bias that rivals the best of anti-semitic propaganda that I have read.

    The book is a featured news story on Yahoo’s homepage. Of course Yahoo would feature this book as it fits in with their atheist scheme.

    The review of the book could have been written by a 10 year old, brain-washed, neo-nazi (ys) girl.

    The bias of the review is so pathetic, that it is almost funny, if it were not so tragic.

    In fact, the review is written by a blogger going by the name of Sarah B. Weir. (as in Sarah Beware?)

    Liberal anti-semeitic fascism knows no end and has no shame!

    #868355

    a mamin
    Participant

    I am totally depressed from this link. Nebach, she did’nt receive the help she so badly needed! She is a yiddishe neshama who has totally lost her mind. She paints Chasidus (not Judaism) so black. Life for women is NOT the way she says.The halachos ( and chumros, that some of you think)are to build the respect that woman get in yiddishkeit. Our halochos are beautiful and only enhance the relationship between a man and his wife! Her book will definitely NOT bring a kiddush Hashem!

    I pray that one day she will come back to her senses…. nebach!

    #868356

    yungerman1
    Participant

    greatest and soliek- We do care what the rest of the world thinks of us. It affects us socially, politically, and it effects their view of jews in Eretz Yisroel.

    #868357

    jakyweb
    Member

    I unfortunately read the NYP article and I hope she does not make a penny off this drek. If the lifestyle was not for her fine, it’s a free country, but to slap down an entire community that took loving care of her all her life is beyond disgusting. She acknowledges that her grandparents and husband were good to her – so this is the thanks they get? She shames them publicly with her drekishe book. I hope whoever’s picture she used without their permission sues the pruste clothting off her back. BTW she looked much prettier and bacheint when she was a young chosidishe veibele than what she looks like today.- farkrimpte kardashian wannabe.

    #868358

    ZeesKite
    Participant

    What a massive unprecedented chilul HaShem (disgusting pictures too). One R”L leaves the fold, nu nu, there’e a kind Father Up There who is ???? ?? ?????, he made our inclinations (for our benefit), he certainly understands – ???? ????? ???.

    It totally another thing to go all out against HaShem Himself, such vile, disgusting material. That is ???? ??????, no different that any of our meshumadim in the past. The only difference is she’s doing it on such a large scale.

    ??? ???? ???? ???? ?????? ???

    If she had any marbles, she’d hurriedly retract and destroy any/all of her filth…

    #868359

    Feif Un
    Participant

    a mamin: Chassidish customs are to build respect for women? How so? Please explain how the following build respect:

    Women not allowed to be out on the streets at night.

    Woman only allowed to ride in the back of the bus.

    When there are guests over, the women must eat in the kitchen instead of at the table with their family.

    Women are not allowed to drive.

    That’s just a few to start off with.

    #868360

    msseeker
    Member

    Feif, how about this:

    I DO NOT WANT to be out on the streets at night.

    I WANT to ride in the back of the bus.

    When there are guests over, I WANT TO eat in the kitchen instead of at the table with my family.

    I DO NOT WANT to drive.

    And my wishes are RESPECTED. Can you wrap your narrow head around that? Well, neither can the goy who thinks YOU disrespect YOUR women (Thanks, PBA).

    #868361

    sushee
    Member

    Feif: Like popa pointed out, how are modern orthodox rules on women respectful to them? Rules like, they must cover their torso, knees, upper arms, they are “unclean” 2 weeks out of 4, they are forced to go into ritual waters once a month, etc.

    #868362

    popa_bar_abba
    Participant

    Chassidish customs are to build respect for women? How so? Please explain how the following build respect:

    Women not allowed to be out on the streets at night.

    Woman only allowed to ride in the back of the bus.

    When there are guests over, the women must eat in the kitchen instead of at the table with their family.

    Women are not allowed to drive.

    Well Feif, the question was not addressed to me, but I’d like to respond.

    Before I do though, I’d like you to first answer the questions I posed to your way of life earlier.

    You claim to respect women? Please explain how the following build respect:

    Women are not allowed to show any of the skin of their torso in front of men.

    Women are not allowed to touch men.

    Women are not allowed to sit with men in shul.

    Women are not accepted as witnesses.

    Women are not acceptable as judges.

    Women are considered unclean for half the month.

    Women are not allowed to sing in front of men.

    Women are not able to divorce their husband unilaterally, but can be divorced unilaterally.

    Women are “purchased” by their husband for gold.

    Women do not count for a minyan.

    Women whose husbands die childless are allowed to be married by their brother in law unilaterally, and are held hostage until he decides one way or the other unilaterally.

    I am not just trying to shtuch you here. I am trying to show you that we only differ in degree, not in kind. I am trying to show you that you cannot approach this question with Western liberal morals, since those morals would clearly cause you to reject your own way as well.

    While we’re at it, we can discuss other ways in which you need to reject Judaism if you come from an approach of Western liberal morals. Like how a yids life is worth more than a goy.

    Also, if anything, this book disproves your point. She says it did not bother her to sit in the back of the bus. She does not say in the article that she felt inferior to men, or that men degraded her for being female.

    #868363

    popa_bar_abba
    Participant

    You see Bikur Cholim, the secular see Back of the Bus and the Zip Lock bag

    Thank you zdad. As you can see, the issues are not just Back of the Bus, which is a chareidi thing, but also Zip Lock bag, which is plain simple halacha which any frum jew needs to do.

    #868364

    MiddlePath
    Participant

    Feif, while I understand what you are saying, at the same time, I think it is important about how one views things like that. Yes, if you view it as “women are restricted from many things”, then you will only see how such a lifestyle seems to disrespect women. But you can also view it as “women are able to live an elevated lifestyle by distancing themselves from possible misconduct”, which then doesn’t make that lifestyle seem restrictive, rather, it seems holy. With that perspective, women have the opportunity to reach such high levels of holiness, which would, in turn, build respect for them. It is all about the attitude one approaches it with. I may not agree with or adapt for myself such a lifestyle, but I do see how it can be nice for some people.

    Unfortunately, the woman in this article saw these things as restrictive, and therefore discarded them. We see this in all groups of Jews though. It is so important to teach and instill a love and appreciation for our laws and customs, and NOT make it seem like we are forced into it, and must abide by these rules or we are horrible people.

    I also don’t think it’s right to speak negatively about this woman. Speaking negatively about her won’t help her come back to her roots.

    #868365

    WolfishMusings
    Participant

    I DO NOT WANT to be out on the streets at night.

    I WANT to ride in the back of the bus.

    When there are guests over, I WANT TO eat in the kitchen instead of at the table with my family.

    I DO NOT WANT to drive.

    And you’ve completely missed the point.

    No one is *forcing* you to do any of those things. If YOU want to sit in the back of the bus, stay in at night and eat in the kitchen, then all the more power to you.

    His point was that women are forced to do these things… even those who otherwise may not want to.

    The Wolf

    #868366

    sushee
    Member

    Wolfish: Why don’t you have the same argument against women being FORCED to go to ritual bath waters monthly and do personal inspections for a week in advance? Or do you?

    #868367

    WolfishMusings
    Participant

    he secular see Back of the Bus and the Zip Lock bag

    Forgive the ignorance, but what is “the Zip Lock bag?”

    The Wolf

    I’ll answer. ????? ????? ???? ?????. If you have a shaila on it.

    Thanks.

    The Wolf

    #868368

    WolfishMusings
    Participant

    Wolfish: Why don’t you have the same argument against women being FORCED to go to ritual bath waters monthly and do personal inspections for a week in advance? Or do you?

    Oddly enough, no one is *forcing* them to do those things either.

    I don’t observe my wife when she does her bedikos. I also don’t watch her go to the Mikvah. I *trust* that she does these things and tells me the truth that she does, but no one is actually *forcing* her to do them.

    The Wolf

    #868369

    a mamin
    Participant

    Feif Un; I questioned whether I should even bother to answer your questions, but , I see many have beat me to it.

    1) I was never told to stay off the streets at night. Though I find some women who shouldn’t be on the streets in daylight either. It all depends on how you carry yourself. If you are making a chillul Hashem, it doesn’;t matter if it’s day or night. They are both wrong.

    2) I have NO problem sitting in the back of the bus.Touching a “strange man” by sitting next to him is asor! I try to keep halochos.

    3) I don’t eat in the kitchen on Shabbos, though I can totally respect those who do!

    4)I used to drive before I became Chassidish and NOW I don’t! Not because someone forced me, because I chose to.I didn’t feel it is the right thing to do.

    msseeker: Your comments are A+

    Middle Path: you made some excellent points.

    #868370

    000646
    Participant

    Feif,

    You cannot say that Chasidishe women are oppressed. Many of them enjoy their lives with the restrictions that are placed on them. Lifestyles are “package deals” there are downsides and upsides to some the upsides are worth the downsides; and to some they are not. This idea that the Western American way of thinking automaticly “protects” and “honors” woman or that is is ideal for evreyone is simply not true.

    There are upsides to living a Chasidishe style life that a secular life does not have, and there are also upsides to living a secular life that a chasidishe life does not have.

    What is considered important to one culture’s people may be unimportant to anothers.

    I saw a cartoon once with and Arab woman dressed in a hijab and an american woman dressed in a bathing suit and sunglasses looking at one another, the American woman was looking at the Arab woman and thinking “Evreything covered except her eyes what a disgusting male dominated culture” and the Arab woman was thinking “Nothing covered but her eyes what a disgusting male dominanted culture”

    You cannot impose your values on others, Chasidish, Modern, or even Lhavdil Muslims.

    This idea that western values are some how better by default is arrogant untrue garbage that most people in our community get from listening to people like Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh and company.

    #868371

    msseeker-

    “Feif, how about this:

    I DO NOT WANT to be out on the streets at night.

    I WANT to ride in the back of the bus.

    When there are guests over, I WANT TO eat in the kitchen instead of at the table with my family.

    I DO NOT WANT to drive.”

    What about those that DON’T want any of this? Is their abrogating these communal norms accepted?

    #868372

    sushee
    Member

    Wolfish: No one forces them to refrain from driving in as much as no one forces them to go to the ritual bath monthly. The secular world would be angrier to hear our women are forced to go to a ritual bath than that they don’t drive or have separate seating on buses.

    #868373

    000646
    Participant

    Wolf,

    If your or if you are not religous some other “moderate” Orthodox jew’s wife told them that she does not want to go to the mikvah are you saying you would just say “Ok no problem” or would you presure her (possibly even with the threat of divorce) to go?

    “Force” does not neccesarilly mean physically

    #868374

    Feif Un
    Participant

    “You cannot impose your values on others, Chasidish, Modern, or even Lhavdil Muslims.”

    Yet when women tried to ride in the front of the bus, they were harassed. If a women walks on the wrong side of the street in some areas, she is harassed. My wife and I once had to be in New Square for something, and she was confronted and told that she wasn’t dressed up to their standards.

    Does not imposing standards only apply to me? Wolf understood my post before. I think everyone else missed the point.

    #868375

    bpt
    Participant

    I did not read the article itself, but its making a buzz in the neighborhood. While every defection is a loss, our retention track record is still very good. True, extremism is a bad thing, but 99.9% of chassidim (at least the Bklyn ones) do not live a life as draconian as she paints. She could have stayed on, if she wanted to. She wanted out, so she found an excuse.

    And when Ms. Dropout gets to see what her shaygetz boyfriend looks like in one of his drunken rages, she will know what we all do: Orthodoxy (whatever the level) is still the way to go, if you want to live a healthy, productive and happy life.

    #868376

    ☕ DaasYochid ☕
    Participant

    but no one is actually *forcing* her to do them

    What do you mean actually – physically? No one is physically forcing women to the back of the bus either.

    #868377

    yungerman1
    Participant

    000646- “…arrogant untrue garbage that most people in our community get from listening to people like Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh and company.”

    WOW! Where did that come from?

    #868378

    sushee
    Member

    Furthermore, no one forces anyone to be Orthodox or Chasidish. Every Orthodox and Chasidish person chooses to remain as such. And CHOOSES to follow their customs. They could get up and leave like this rashanta did.

    #868379

    zahavasdad
    Participant

    The real issue with Chumras is for some people it draws them closer to hashem and other it pushes them away.

    Among many Chumras are becoming “Halacha”

    Maybe some of the Chasdic women here like riding the back of the bus and dont want to drive and maybe for them it brings them closer to hashem.

    But for other riding the back of the bus pushes them AWAY from hashem

    #868380

    MDG
    Participant

    I think I have a better understanding of what she wrote as I read the prologue and first chapter of her book last night (available online).

    The author claims that she was raised by her grandparents because her father was mentally incompetent and her mother walked out. She claims that her mother walked out because of the condescension and rigidness of her father’s Satmar family. She (the author) seems to not fit in, not to her family, nor to her community. She grew up feeling very little love, and she paints the Satmar community as people that like to “improve” others by meanly chastising them. The person who really ran her family was her aunt, who she really paints as self-righteous, controlling, and mean spirited.

    Her story shows a lot of dysfunction in her family. It seems that the only person that showed her any love was her Bubby. She says that Bubby was OK with her reading secular books, but her Zaidy would have been really upset.

    She has an independent, free-spirited personality (according to the psych eval she was forced to take) and that facilitated a rejection of a rule based lifestyle.

    #868381

    ZeesKite
    Participant

    One more point, if I may.

    Compare the two pictures, one of her happy, content life as a Jewess, and that of her now.

    It speaks volumes! To say she feels “happier” now?!?

    No. Not in this world. Definitely not in the next!!

    #868382

    soliek
    Member

    once again i get the feeling that people dont read my posts…

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