I was in New York to talk about Ravenscraig, my novel about an immigrant family fighting to maintain their Jewish identity against pressure to assimilate a hundred years ago. Deborah was there to talk about Unorthodox, her memoire of breaking away from a Hasidic Jewish life rooted in restrictions she could no longer tolerate. The contrast in our subject matter could not have been more pronounced.
Married at 17, a mother at nineteen, Deborah found her courage and purpose in sneaking to the library to read books that she was not allowed to read; books like Matilda by children’s writer, Roald Dahl.
Unorthodox, the Scandalous Rejection of my Hasidic Roots, is a book that many communities and Jewish Book Festivals may shy away from, for being “too hot” a topic for their reader groups. I am very pleased that I first learned of the book when the sisterhood at my own synagogue chose it for our summer reading event.
My heart goes out to Deborah Feldman, a talented writer and gifted storyteller who has given us an inside view of a very difficult emotional journey. There is much to learn and much to discuss in this work. It’s one of the most interesting books I’ve read this year. The strength of the book is in the frank telling of details of her life.
Learn more at Deborah’s website and from the interview in the video below.