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Ignorance is Bliss

Sometimes I wish I could go back to my high school days, the days before existential crisis wracked my mind, the days when issues of faith and belief were no brainers. Those days before I started reading philosophy and anything that put my Judaism into question. Sometimes, just for a moment I wish I were part of a community like Satmar, where my thought process, reading materials and way of life was strictly guided by community standards and expectations. I was reading an interview with Chaim Potok the other night where he spoke of what it may have been like had he remained within Orthodoxy and he waxed poetic on the very concept of living without the freedom of thought that he only was able to experience once he left orthodoxy. 

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, but she did do something very important for the frum community. I am pretty sure that, some of those who read about her actually stopped to think about what she was saying for just a moment instead of immediately branding her as a chillul Hashem (which I completely understand) The frum community has this amazing filter that basically brands anything as a chillul Hashem if it tries to provide some sort of questioning of the things we hold dear.

One of my biggest issues with the frum community is it’s unfortunate way of looking at anyone who disagrees with them. It’s very similar to the super liberal folks out in San Francisco, everyone loves everyone else until something irks them. The frum community is an even more interesting place nowadays because so much of it is social, or aesthetics. When someone asks me whether or not I can do such and such a thing, I almost always respond with a technically or realistically or socially answer. For instance I was trying to explain the other night to someone that when someone tells me they converted through the conservative movement, I always look at them as Jews. This in itself is an extreme view for anyone calling themselves orthodox, because 99% of the orthodox community does not hold that conservative conversions are valid, yet I have no idea whether they are valid or not – but I still don’t sit there and say “yes you may have converted, but you are not Jewish” in all honesty, conversion used to be a much simpler process and it’s hard to tell what actually does the deed. I have also noticed that, just like it used to be, the lines between orthodox and conservative are blurred, because almost every young rabbi I meet coming out of JTS is modern orthodox that holds of conservative theology.

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. We can probably debate for years on whether or not hair covering is required halachically, or merely a periodical custom that was backed up in a simple line about embarrassing a sotah. Regardless, it is one of the fundamental ways that frum people judge each other. Most will acknowledge that black hats are hogwash, but it’s rare to find someone who says the same of fully covered hair. 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.

Now, no one will learn anything because the lies perpetuated in one of the stories will be spread about as if the entire book was false. Even if the entire book is false, it touched a raw nerve and you may have noticed that the mainstream media is fascinated with fundamentalist Jews and don’t think for an instance that we are not fundamentalists. The riots in Israel andthis thing on Oprah are bound to spark curiosity so you can look for more behind the scenes published works in mainstream media and eventually someone may actually decide to learn from it rather than instantly put it down and cry chillul hashem.

The thing that everyone on the other end of the spectrum, the non-frum and non-Jews seem to misunderstand is that you can be an ultra orthodox fundamentalist and very happy. I have no doubt in my mind that living an insular, fully devoted to religious life is something which people don’t want to change. 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.

If you really want to read a good book that takes an inside and less negative look at Chassidim I would recommend Hush, which looked at abuse, but was funny, insightful and much more truthful.

Find out more about Chassidim on 4torah.com

{ 60 comments… add one }
  • Dan February 19, 2012, 9:46 AM

    This post is one of the reasons I read this site. Great post.

  • batsheva February 19, 2012, 9:51 AM

    I agree with you on pretty much everything you mentioned on this post. However, now that you have a very talented fiancee who knows how to write without excessive typos and grammatical errors, do you think that maybe you could email her your posts for editing purposes before you post them? The way you write shows that you really don’t care about your readers at all.

    • batsheva February 19, 2012, 9:55 AM

      *in this post, not on.

    • OfftheDwannaB February 19, 2012, 12:32 PM

      Oh definitely. He doesn’t care. That’s why he updates every day with thought out posts like this. Why don’t you run a daily updated blog for a couple months and then think about this again.

    • Micah T February 19, 2012, 5:05 PM


      You are totally missing the point!

  • Ari February 19, 2012, 9:52 AM

    Here’s a book that will help you with your crisis of faith you seem to imply you’re having: “It’s Not the End of the World. It’s Just the End of You.” (You can also try “How Civilizations Die” both books are by David P. Goldman). Both show, using statistics from unimpeachable sources how secularism has failed. It also explains the crucial differences between Judaism and Islam that affect some who are having a crisis of faith because they can’t help but notice some similarities between Judaism and Islam. Both books are highly recommended.

    • G*3 February 19, 2012, 10:16 AM

      > Both show, using statistics from unimpeachable sources how secularism has failed.

      What has that got to do with a crisis of faith? It might be true that secularism (whatever that is) has failed. But what does that have to do with whether Judaism is true?

  • Rachel February 19, 2012, 9:55 AM

    Great post. A little on the apologetic side towards the frummies, but hey you can’t please us all. Also use of the expression “media whore” seems a little sexist, I would choose a more gender neutral term to describe her lust for the spotlight.

  • G*3 February 19, 2012, 10:20 AM

    > They don’t live a life of sex, drugs

    Neither does the average American.

    > and money or materialism,

    Of course they do. It’s just that they’re trying to pay for different things. It’s yeshiva tuition, kosher food, big weddings – which include mandated gold watches, choson shases, pearl necklaces, etc. and, for Israelis, buying their kids apartments.

  • utubefan February 19, 2012, 10:21 AM

    The fallacy perpetuated today both within the frum world and by those looking in is that which Chaim Potok discusses as fact. You say:
    ” he spoke of what it may have been like had he remained within Orthodoxy and he waxed poetic on the very concept of living without the freedom of thought that he only was able to experience once he left orthodoxy. ” The reality is that you can have freedom of thought and live a conscious Jewish life within Orthodoxy. You just need to shift to Modern Orthodoxy which I did. And even though modern orthodoxy has disappointed me at times (meeting up with some materialistic, shallow MO Jews who are not really thinking Jews at all), it affords you the lifestyle and opportunities to live and think out loud and proud as an Orthodox thinking Jew. The other fallacy is the one that the outside world gets from Deborah Feldman’s book and today’s lovely NY Post article and that is that Chasidim are living in a cult that its women are trapped and mistreated. The reality is as you describe and the majority are quite happy within its confines. The women live in a constant community of women. The marriages are often loving and expressive (just not publicly) and the men do help out by working full time and helping with the grocery shopping (which I see all the time here in Monsey). I worry much more about the Lakewood and Brooklyn Kollel wives who must give birth to tens of children plus work to support their families while their husbands learn for decades at a time. Much, much more disturbing.

    • Heshy Fried February 19, 2012, 2:58 PM

      By any number of factors, 90% of Jews would call me modern orthodox. From a practical perspective, the only brand of orthodoxy that makes sense is the one preached by Solevatchik and Lamm.

      • Micah T February 19, 2012, 5:53 PM

        Enough with labels. It doesn’t matter where you are on the ladder – only whether you are going up or down. I personally don’t care whether someone is a reform, conservative, or orthodox Jew. What’s important is to be a serious Jew!

        • Heshy Fried February 19, 2012, 11:12 PM

          But up and down are different theories depending on where you are. In my world, wearing a black hat means you’re going down because you care about social practice.

          • Seriously?? February 20, 2012, 6:07 PM

            Micah is absolutely right: either one is growing or one is not.

            The externalities (like black hats) are not what matter. But some guys wear a black hat just so it does not get in the way of normal interactions.

            It could be considered like not wearing socks. It can get in the way, because not wearing socks is making some kind of statement.

    • Seriously?? February 20, 2012, 6:04 PM

      Modern Orthodoxy doesn’t *mean* anything.

      I am open minded. I am free to say what I think (and I often do, believe me!). I dress how I see fit, and I daven in whatever way works for me. And I daven with Satmar. They have a much fuller relationship with G-d than do the folks I call “cynical Jews.” And if one does not have a relationship to Hashem, it is living as chayav kares.

  • utubefan February 19, 2012, 10:30 AM

    BTW, the other fallacy is that all Chasidic groups operate the same way which we all know is not true. Many Chasidic women can be seen here in Monsey and in Brooklyn for that matter out to lunch with their friends, shopping and having a grand time. You’re not likely to see them in a movie theater, but they have many girls only events and movies now that they go to with their women friends. I know because they tell me about them. As families, they are constantly going on mini-trips, especially on Chol Hamoed and in the summer. You will see them at parks, zoos, amusement parks, museums. I’ve seen Chasidish girls’ schools in Washington D.C. and Philadelphia when I am on my trips with my own students. They get out. All of the women I know have cell phones and many shop online–if not at home then at work. Not all Chasidic women are permitted to drive, but some do. Those that don’t make great use of the cabs we have around here or they walk. In fact, I see many Chasidish women powerwalking with their friends and with their husbands. They are aware of healthy habits and many look darn good. They just have a completely different approach to life and within that they find their own happiness. Some Chasidic groups are more restrictive (Satmar, Ger), so I would be interested to know their stats for OTD versus the other groups like Belz and Bobov. The Feldmans have a right to tell their stories (although they should really stay away from gossip that might hurt others and lies about their own communities), but they are not the norm and that may bore everyone to death, but it’s the truth.

  • yankelyoffen February 19, 2012, 10:40 AM

    Can you post a link to the Potok interview ?

  • Bishrirus February 19, 2012, 11:20 AM

    Right on the Money Hesh!

    I would however take issue with what you omitted though.

    True that ignorance can be bliss, where the line starts blurring, however, is the “right” to shutting out mainstream education, to depriving of appropriate social tools for interacting with general society, to condemning your “non entrepreneurialy inclined” to a life of poverty and irrevocably tied to social assistance, etc.

    less harmful but no less funny, to censorship of facts, to rejection of science but full embrace of the fruits of science such as medicine and technology.

    And when all that fails, taking the liberty of destroying someone’s socials existence by ostracizing dissent, in complete disregard of the horrible effect of a persons physical and mental well-being. This is morally repugnant.

    Even more repugnant is the religious justification of “sheltering the children” (read, vilifying and estranging the dissenting parent, denying visitation, turning the kids against them) from “abuse”. Albeit abuse only in the eyes of those for whom a single world-view exists.

    I dont think you can separate the undoubted fact of “Ignorance is bliss” from “Ignorance can be tragic/suicidal”! nor is it correct to absolve the system from criticism on that count.

  • Skeptic February 19, 2012, 11:23 AM

    Yes, please post the link to the Potok interview.

    • Heshy Fried February 19, 2012, 3:00 PM

      It;s a collection of interviews in an out of print book I found.

      • Anonymous February 20, 2012, 12:43 PM

        Scan and post it, hell take pictures of it.

  • wexel February 19, 2012, 11:30 AM

    How can we run her out of town and bring her down?
    Its not her only lie but this lie is about a murder which caught peoples attention but a liar is a liar and cant be believed for anything.
    Can Simon and Schuster be sued?
    Can there be a campaign to email every TV station where she might get publicity for her book informing them how she lied?

    • Dan February 19, 2012, 11:36 AM

      Tar and feather party? I’m all in. I’ll bring the beer.

  • anon February 19, 2012, 1:07 PM

    “Most will acknowledge that black hats are hogwash” = is that true?

  • Mendy February 19, 2012, 1:41 PM

    I think it’s important to note that on unpious, (a blog whose writers are ex chassidic) almost all of them agree that she made up most things in her interviews.

    • Heshy Fried February 19, 2012, 11:23 PM

      Because it makes them look bad, I also hear she’s against Footsteps, which is like telling a modern orthodox rabbi you are against the Israeli Day Parade.

  • utubefan February 19, 2012, 2:45 PM

    She comes off a lot more credible in this week’s Jewish Week interview. Was it her take on who her audience would be or was it her true intention all along? I don’t know, but it was much easier to read and I feel good knowing she is sending her son to a day school and not throwing all of Judaism out with the bathwater.

  • Abe A February 19, 2012, 3:55 PM

    Thanks for this post!

    What disgusts me about as much as Ms Feldman, and Simon & Schuster, her accomplices in crime, with their “anything for a buck” attitide, is “The View” and everyone involved, who put a picture up of Leiby Kletzky, as their poster child to remind us all how at fault his parents were for causing his death by telling him to trust anyone with a hat who looks Jewish better than a cop (in DF’s mind).

    Gimme a break! How many cops do we see walking on 18th Avenue? Who should Leiby have approached? An invisible cop?

    For fear of sounding violent, Ill just say I hope whoever came up with the idea or agreed to it, of using Leiby’s picture as the background while interviewing that low-life, should pay for it dearly. I’ve lost all respect for Barbara Walters as well, for getting all weepy because of some complimentary words uttered, and for kissing up to Ms Feldman.

  • Crowin' Cock February 19, 2012, 5:34 PM

    After logging into my facebook page for this first time in months, I found her posting her stupid book all over my page. Every third message was from her about the same book. First time I’ve ever unfriended anyone (don’t know how she got on there to begin with).

    Doesn’t seem like she’s the brightest bulb in the room either. If you’re going to claim a murder cover up, you’d better have some facts to prove your claim. And if she had any proof, she should have come forward with it.

    Sad how one can be so self hating and stoop that low.

    • Eleanor March 3, 2012, 4:43 AM

      Oh she’s bright enough to get a book published! That would be a bright bulb even on a Hanukkah Menorah. Somehow on her own she was able to do what most of us cannot, find herself an agent, get a contract and have a known publishing company put her story out there and get TV and print interviews. Nothing wrong with the brain on that girl.

      She didn’t claim murder. I don’t even know her but I do know how to read. She claimed she heard a story about murder via her husband who allegedly heard it over the telephone.

      It seems to me she was an unhappy girl who felt that her particular sect of Judaism, one she was born into rather than choosing, made her unhappy. She feels it was an oppressive system of religion. She wrote about it. She made money. I think there was exaggeration for sensationalism. So there is a question which is: If Deborah wanted out of her sect and out of her marriage, did her education train her to do anything to support herself and her son in the real world other than write a sensational book? If the answer is no, then she was education deprived due to being born a Hasid period. She was trained for nothing other than breeding, cooking and cleaning. This is the 21st century. It is America. She is bright and should have been trained for a real profession.

      From the outside looking in I think it is an oppressive system. I do not think of myself as a feminist but I would easily knock over any man who thought he could tell me what to do and what to think and that list would include a husband, son, or a Rabbi for sure, including the odd guy in the street. I would not have had the moxy she had to get out though, so I do give her credit for survival outside the community. If it had been me I would have prayed to die young probably.

      Deborah claims to be glad she is Jewish at the end of the book. Not wanting to belong to a fundamentalist sect and not wanting to remain in what was for her, an unhappy marriage, is her choice.

      I do think she was brave for she had to know she would be pilloried by the fundamentalist Jews.

      • Crowin' Cock March 3, 2012, 7:16 PM


        You obviously have issues with orthodoxy, but that doesn’t change facts.

        1)Spamming your “friends” facebook page with daily posts is not only stupid, it’s annoying. Which resulted in my “unfriending” her, not that she was ever a “friend”.

        2)”Relating” a story from her husband in her book is hearsay. When the story checked out as false, she ends up looking like an idiot on a public scale, and in the longrun, it’s probably going to hurt her credibility and subsequent book sales.

        That is why I maintain that she ain’t the brightest bulb. |Getting a book published is no proof of intelligence. Plenty of books are written by idiots, and you need is an idiotic market 😉

        • Eleanor March 4, 2012, 4:26 PM

          No way do I think spamming is right under any circumstances. I also would unfriend a person who spammed me. I just do not think this is a non intelligent girl.

          IMHO she was relating the murder/suicide story as heresay basically. However, it is interesting that she should have expected it might not have been and I do wonder why she would think that.

          Yes, I probably do have issues with Orthodoxy. I am not familiar with every sect of Orthodoxy I will admit, so cannot distinguish which sect other than what Deborah said concerning the Satmar sect also thinks it was the punishment of G-d on Jews via the Holocaust. I find that thought abhorrent. I would also have a problem with any Jew who tried to say I was not a Jew and I am told the ultra-Orthodox would think somebody such as myself to be the next best thing to a gentile. I would have a problem with anybody who thought I had to ride in a special part of a bus because I am a woman. On a nicer note let me say that I give most men credit for being able to keep their zippers closed all on their own despite being around women all the time. I also find it awful that certain ultra-Orthodox sects think there is something wrong with the Jewish state of Israel. I think Israel to be a miracle. I believe as I was taught by my mother, that G-d gave us a brain and we should use it. It is apparent the Zionists, no matter how irreligious they were, decided to use their brains to create the state of Israel rather than wait for the hoped for Messiah to come. I also think that the Orthodox sect who believe a dead Rebbe to possibly have been the Messiah is just about as bad as Christians thinking Jesus was the Messiah. As I was taught, the Messiah is supposed to make things right in the world. So far nobody has come along who can do that.

          I have a real problem with women having to shave their heads. That is a disgusting practice IMHO. Why to degrade a woman that way I wonder. Who thought that one up?

          If what Deborah wrote is incorrect and if it ends up hurting her book sales, that is her problem. I have no vested interest in her success or failure. I do not know her. She writes an interesting book however.

          There are problems with secular vs. Haredi in Israel today. And, it is my opinion that somehow things have to change. In other words the ultra-Orthodox should not be having I don’t know how many children and then looking to the state for welfare, either here or in Israel. Israelis go into the army. The Orthodox need to do that too. I know they are to some extent but are making a big fuss when some of their fellow Jewish female soldiers sing or whatever. I do not understand the big fear concerning women. I am a woman. Nobody is afraid of me or unable to control themselves around me, either now or back when I was young and attractive. Perhaps I surrounded myself with nice people, both men and women? Women are 1/2 or more of our society. To extinguish the brain power of women and what they are able to contribute to society is to diminish our people. I say that about ultra-Orthodox sects and I say that about Islamic fundamentalists. I do not understand men apparently. Are they all so unsure of themselves that they need to keep women down in order to feel good about themselves?

          Deborah makes an interesting point about when she read the Talmud and learned that though we are all supposed to revere David, he was a massive womanizer. She wonders at how holy such a man could be. I would wonder that also.

          Also I am reminded of the fact that Judaism, in all its incarnations today, is not the Judaism of Temple days. We do not have Temple priests because there is no Temple. Thus Judaism through the centuries has most definitely changed. I think our divisions come from the fact that we lived throughout history in isolated communities far, far away from each other and that therefore, the religion has changed many a time.

          However, I don’t expect Judaism to go backwards. I also agree that secular society today is horrid. Our culture is horrid. This does not mean that an insular community is good. It only means that our culture, for all peoples, all over this world, has devolved which is most heartbreaking for I am old enough to remember a better day and age.

          • Crowin' Cock March 4, 2012, 4:59 PM


            Your misconceptions of orthodox Jewry are a result of your general ignorance about it. You’re basically taking extreme cases in every sect and lumping them all into one big chulent-like mess.

            Just to clear up few of your misconceptions:

            Not all Chabad people believe that the Rebbe is the messiah or still alive. I live in a Chabad community and go to synagogue there quite often. Don’t take the lunatic fringe as an example of the entire movement.

            Women shaving their heads is forbidden by halacha, it falls under the category of crossdressing. A woman that shaves her head may as well be wearing pants. I don’t know where this ridiculous custom came from, but it definitely is NOT the orthodox norm.

            Orthodox men are not afraid of women. They follow rules which dictate certain levels of modesty, which include mingling, touching, etc. Just have a look at the rampant promiscuity and adultery in the secular world today. Much less common in Jewish orthodox circles.

            Lastly, King David was not a womanizer by the standards of his day and age. A king was allowed to have up to 18 wives and concubines (combined), and to the best of my knowledge, he didn’t not exceed that number. His son Solomon was a different story…

            Learn the facts before painting us all with the same brush.

            • Eleanor March 5, 2012, 4:05 PM

              I am so glad to hear it is forbidden by halacha for women to have to shave their heads. It’s good to know that not everybody thinks the dead Rebbe was the messiah. It is bad that there is a lunatic fringe. Jewish people and Jewish brains throughout the centuries brought order and learning to the ignorant. If now a lunatic fringe or a few lunatic fringes are out there holding beliefs that have little to do with our original religion, then we have a problem. It is not just a Hasidic problem. It is a problem for all Jews.

              I believe the rampant promiscuity and adultery in the secular world today is due to a devolving of our culture. This did not exist when I was a girl or young woman in any numbers to be noticed. It is awful today. When I see what I do see of our present culture and the culture of so many young people, I am glad I am no longer young, glad to have been born when I was. I was able to be brought up in a non-Orthodox family while remaining what was then called “a good girl” till I was married. My family did not have to be Orthodox in order to maintain dignity or raise their children properly.

              I think it dreadful that there are way too many forms of our religion. Given our numbers when we divide internally we become even smaller. And the lunatic fringe is hurting us both here and in Israel.

              And now the atheists are in the mix. They are going to put up billboards near religious Jewish and Muslim communities telling everybody that
              G-d does not exist and telling people they don’t have to live as they are. Apparently one of the billboards will go up in Williamsburg. Jews fighting with other Jews have given them yet another opening.

              If we are going to bash anybody, we need to bash the atheists, and once again, the Mormon church for baptizing dead Jews or any Jewish name they can get hold of.

              So in the end, what I am saying is that Deborah Feldman and her book are small fry when one considers the bigger picture.

              • Crowin' Cock March 5, 2012, 6:10 PM

                1 Deborah Feldman does more damage than the entire Moron (pun intended) church baptizing Jews posthumously. While most Jews don’t take Mormons or atheist too seriously, plenty of Jews from Modern orthodox to secular to reform, now have a worse picture panted in their minds about ultra orthodox Jewry than they previously did. All because of one immature crybaby that figured out she could capitalize and cash in with her smut.

                It doesn’t take a genius to cash in on crap. Just look at Paris Hilton, lady gaga and the entire rap/hip hop industry.

  • John February 19, 2012, 5:39 PM

    Great post!

  • T February 19, 2012, 10:44 PM

    Nice going on the plug for “Hush”. 🙂

  • Tinok ShenishBeth February 19, 2012, 11:06 PM

    Let me be clear, I don’t give the furry crack of a rat’s tuches about Deborah Feldman – she can write what she wants about whatever she wants.  It really doesn’t affect me. Imma be rolling the same.

    However, I think we should be careful about calling her a ‘liar.’ (Dan l’kav z’chus, anyone?) She says in her book this is a story she heard from her husband and he heard it from someone who was there…  It’s a story she obviously believed.  Repeating a story you believe to be true doesn’t make you a liar.  She may be very foolish for publishing the story with no verification – but this is a story of her life not CNN.  

    It speaks to the depth of her unhappiness that she was willing to accept something so tragic as the truth.  It didn’t occur to her to doubt that a member of her community could murder their own child for the ‘sin’ of masterbation – that’s very depressing!  And imagine living that way?  Believing this was true of your neighbors?  

    And BTW, does anyone else find the official details of the actual story rather dubious?  Suicide by power saw?  Who does that?  (There are many ways to end one’s life that are painless and easy.)  Plus, frummies are not overly inclined to cooperate with secular authorities. I doubt that a full, honest, and totally accurate accounting the matter was conveyed to them. 

    • Josh February 20, 2012, 1:10 AM

      “She says in her book this is a story she heard from her husband and he heard it from someone who was there…”

      there are reports coming out that her Ex Husband is DENYING this.

      Also read the death certificate, no chain saw was invloved.

      • Eleanor March 4, 2012, 5:22 PM

        Her ex-husband would deny he told her this, whether true or untrue because he is painted in a most unfavorable light by Deborah. The main reason that I can see for this painting of the young man is that he was a child who, when the first night of marriage failed to go well, ran and told his mommy about it and she ran and told the entire community. This was a horrid thing to do. I doubt he realized how awful his tale was or that he should have dealt with problems with his new wife privately and not let it be spread around the community as a piece of gossip.

        Moreover, because as another writer here said, I have problems with Orthodoxy in that form, I cannot fathom as a woman, how one is expected to marry somebody they hardly know and right away jump into bed with that person despite the legality of the union. To be fair, I also wonder about this in the general population of unmarried people today who meet in a bar and then before you know it they are bedding down. Both the secular unmarried woman and the Satmar bride are doing the same thing – going to bed with a stranger. The legality of the Satmar situation has no value when it comes to emotion.

        Now I do understand that I am old and probably do not understand young people as you all would no doubt tell me. However, I was once young during the swinging 60’s and I wasn’t swinging. I was raising kids. But at least I knew the man I married before I married him.

        So in many ways it is understandable that Deborah’s husband ran back to his mother – because he was scared no doubt, but did his mother have to inform everybody? And since it was done this way, would there be any possible way Deborah could have forgiven him for this I wonder?

        Plus he also went to a prostitute, if what Deborah writes about her STD is true. That alone would make me send any husband of mine packing. And mind you, I am saying we don’t know right now whether what Deborah says about the STD is true. Medical records could prove it though. But in writing a memoir and changing all names, is it incumbent upon Deborah to reveal medical records? If true and if she did reveal the records if they exist, would answer many questions. However, the doctor she was seeing apparently gave him medication and not a RX, so I wonder if this doctor panders to the Satmar community and helps keep things quiet. I find it interesting that few have picked up on this part of the book. It is only a small part of the book but I do know for a fact that in upstate NY in the religious areas, escorts are used frequently and this is not speculation at all. It is absolute truth and if I were Satmar I would not push it because I know the mother of an escort, the girl is an alcoholic and drug addicted woman, a gentile, who works the area.

        I find it interesting that in all criticisms of the book, nothing is being said about the use of a prostitute by the husband. So I think that by selective picking, the Hasids are damaging their case against the author.

        • Crowin' Cock March 5, 2012, 8:17 AM


          Unfortunately, the use of hookers is a fact of life in many circles, not just chassidim. I would guess that this is due to the fact that their wives aren’t keeping them happy in bed. Not that I’m trying to blame the victims, but if she’d kept him satisfied, he’d have no reason to stray.

          As for anyone blabbing about their son’s wedding night experiences, I very highly doubt anyone would do so, much less in a chassidic community where the topic isn’t discussed openly at all.

          This woman obviously has an ax to grind with her community, and it seems that she’s perfectly willing to invent facts when exaggeration isn’t enough to sell her book. Talk about prostitution…

  • Yisroel H. February 19, 2012, 11:28 PM

    Orthodox or not, her malicious rumors and falsehoods about people cannot be justified by any set of morals.

    On a side note, Sara Hurwitz not covering her hair? Yeah, THAT was the reason why people couldn’t accept her as an Orthodox rabbi….


    • OfftheDwannaB February 20, 2012, 12:09 AM

      I think you’re right about Sara hurwitz, but judging from comments, it did turn some people off when watching her videos.

    • linsanity February 21, 2012, 2:41 PM

      you’re missing the point regarding sara hurwitz covering her hair.

      She in a way was meant to become the new poster child for Modern Orthodoxy, by failing to properly cover her hair she again demonstrated that even though she earned her MODERN status she failed at the ORTHODOXY part.

      obviously the main issue was the female rabbi thing. but she lost credibility by not covering her hair. had she come off as frum minus the “rabba” thing she would of had a point.

      • Reb Noach February 21, 2012, 3:28 PM

        Sara Hurwitz becoming a rabbi (or whatever) had no bearing on the people who make determinations of religiosity based on how many inches of hair are showing. Those people will NEVER accept a woman in a role like that. But there is a whole other set of people out there who don’t care about such things and cannot understand why mainstream, observant Jews cannot find a way to make a woman a community (meaning, both men and women) religious leader. The rabbis need to be pushed sometimes to overcome these kinds of issues and this was a good first step.

  • Josh February 20, 2012, 1:14 AM

    Her Amazon ratings are tumbling down the hill bigtime.. you can all check out her Amazon ratings yourself.. on amazon.com

  • Shmul February 20, 2012, 1:48 AM

    Good one hesh!

  • Abe February 20, 2012, 9:39 AM

    My favorite review on Amazon is written by a guy who was Satmar and is now in Yeshiva and college.

    Not everyone ends up seething and oozing hatred in Footsteps/Hatesteps/Mocksteps and becoming less than they were before. Many among them are neither educated nor moral. Nice if you can be both educated and not give up morals and do more with your life than enjoy sticking it to your ancestors.

  • sam spade February 20, 2012, 10:35 AM

    sara hurwitz is much hotter than debora feldman

  • slim February 20, 2012, 10:40 AM

    What credibility does Simon & Schuster have after publishing a book without checking facts?
    Is it their first book that has so many fabrications?
    If her claim now is that that’s her personal story and doesn’t reflect on the community at large why would they publish something about a silly drunken little girl?
    The hosts on “The View” didn’t really seem to believe or agree with her much.

  • zach February 20, 2012, 5:08 PM

    Regarding “lying” about that little kid being murdered. I haven’t read the book, nor do I really have that much interest in it, but from what I have heard she didn’t claim that this actually happened. Rather it was something that was spoken about where she lived (possibly to instill the fear of masturbation??) Nevertheless, Feldman has got a big problem here: she is unwilling to give a coherent response to her accusators.

  • Charnie Feldman February 21, 2012, 1:14 PM

    Who would thought that I’d find a link to this page from the “DF Exposed” blog, which is somewhat interesting, and somewhat silly, depending upon the post. Much the same as in YWN coffee room.

    Great article, Heshy!

  • Koi Fish February 23, 2012, 4:35 PM

    She’s probably a black man from Zimbabwe….

  • Eleanor March 3, 2012, 4:14 AM

    Deborah Feldman or whatever her real name is, did not lie concerning the story of the dead boy. She repeated what her husband heard via a telephone conversation that he then related to her.

    When the ultra-Orthodox are quick to blast any ex-Hasid who writes about the community it would be best to get the facts straight. The end game here is that by claiming Deborah “lied” they have left it open for her to restate that this was what she was told and not what she knew for sure. And that is exactly what she put in her book. They have also left her free to explain, sort of, why she chose to leave her mother and sister out of the book.

    Also the book is a memoir, not an autobiography despite reading like one.

    I am very sad to discover that the Satmar Hasidic community believes that the Holocaust occurred because Jews like my ancestors assimilated and it was the wrath of G-d upon us for doing so. I am not Orthodox. I have my own relationship with G-d. It is mine alone. I guess the Hasidim think of me as a gentile. What can I say? Think of me any way you like. I know I am Jewish and if I had been born, as I was in 1941, in Europe instead of America, I would have been Jewish enough to have been slaughtered before I got to grow up. My DNA makes me Jewish. The human genome project proves it. My ancestors make me Jewish. And the G-d I pray to is not a sadist who would put a Holocaust upon the Jewish people. I don’t know what G-d the Satmars think is up wherever, but for sure He did not do that to us because we chose to have a religion only and failed to dress up in 17th century ghetto clothing or cover our women up lest a man could not control himself. A man who fails to control himself if he sees female skin and thus does unpardonable things cannot then go and blame his victim as he apparently does in these ultra-Orthodox settings. He goes to jail in the real world, where he belongs.

  • Abe March 3, 2012, 8:58 PM

    Eleanor, I love your post!

    However, re:”I am very sad to discover that the Satmar Hasidic community believes that the Holocaust occurred because Jews like my ancestors assimilated and it was the wrath of G-d upon us for doing so”.

    I dont think the feeling above is commonly accepted among all Hasidim.

    I think many more Hasidim, and certainly Orthodox and other Jews, feel that no human knows for sure why the Holocaust occured.

    May anyone who knows why what happens, to Jews or anyone else, happens, get up and prove it.

    • Eleanor March 4, 2012, 4:54 PM

      Thank you for your response. I am very happy to hear that other ultra-Orthodox sects or modern Orthodox do not think G-d was punishing Jews during the Holocaust for reasons of assimilation. That is a hopeful piece of knowledge. As I have written, I know very little about the ultra-Orthodox and anything I learn is knowledge worth acquiring. Perhaps that is why I liked Deborah’s book, no matter the few fallacies that may be there. It is of no matter to me if she had to change schools but made it seem in the book as if she attended one school all her life. Had all she written been complete irrefutable fact it would have been an autobiography. However, what she did write that is true proves one fact….that this is a young lady who would not do well being a member of an insular community. She is not going to want to blindly follow rules when she lives in a world that ignores lots of rules. She is telling us from page one that she really wants to be part of the general population. Only time will tell if she remains happy out in the real world.

      It seems to me she believes she has to be a feminist in order to live the life she wants to live. She doesn’t yet know, only IMHO, that no, you don’t have to be a feminist to live the life you want to try to live. I think that is her time at Sarah Lawrence talking. One can be a thinking, rational, educated member of society and not be a feminist I believe. Somehow I did it while maintaining traditional values at home. I am happy for a man to be a man and I don’t have fits because it is myself who usually cleans the bathrooms! It’s ok for me to do that while my husband takes out the garbage. Traditional values aren’t all bad. And, some feminist values have reduced all women in America, not just Jewish women, to a state today where they are forced to work outside the home just in order to help pay the mortgage. My take on our society, after watching my daughter-in-law’s being forced to continue in their professions full time while trying to raise children, is that the minute the powers that be noticed women wanted to work, prices all went up so that a man could no longer support his family on one salary.

      In an interview with Salon Magazine last night Deborah admitted all is not perfect in the general population either. She had much to navigate, and she cannot go backwards now that she is completely hated in her old community.

  • Abe March 4, 2012, 5:19 PM

    “She had much to navigate, and she cannot go backwards now that she is completely hated in her old community”.

    Not so, Ive seen posts from old friends and acquaintances tellling her they would welcome her back with open arms, no questions asked. They are sisters after all. She doesnt need everyone in her old community to welcome her back. Only those who are genuinely interested in her happiness and welfare. Ive read many times though, where she says that she’d never go back. Is she possibly saying that she cant if she’ like to, to describe the stubborness of her old community?

    Eleanor, I loved your post, again.

    Foolishly some believe that they can change what can not be changed, at this point in time. Only women can carry (and nurse, when so desired) a baby, etc. Perhaps technological advances might bring about changes at some point in the future. Not sure that will ever happen, though.

    • Eleanor March 5, 2012, 3:47 PM

      Haha, yes I know only women can carry and nurse babies! That much has not changed and never will. Still a woman should be educated to be able to hold a job in the real world. Yiddish should be a second language in America for America functions in English. So after the children are born and brought to the age of going to school there is an entire lifetime waiting for the woman. Without an education a woman has no prospects.

      I cannot imagine the girl would want to go back. I can see her confused in the future or even now possibly for much has happened to her since she left and too many things happening to any person over a very short period of time is just overwhelming., even if those things are good things. However, after all that has occurred how could she go back, be married off to somebody else and just be a housewife following Satmar rules? I don’t see that happening. Deborah will have to find another way to figure out her life. I do wish that the Satmar community would lay off her because now I believe probably in retaliation, she is posting the kind of bad news that failedmessiah.com publishes, every bad thing heard about the Orthodox.

      When I click the link in my e-mail for your responses it sends me to this page and not just to your message. Thus, in scrolling down I believe I read your post to somebody else saying that there are those who are somehow making comparisons with the poor child, Leiby Kletzky, who was killed this past summer. I find that appalling. I do not think his parents were to blame at all. He was in his own neighborhood and asked somebody who he thought looked like himself for help. That poor child unfortunately walked right into the arms of a maniac. It should be ok for a child to walk home from day camp even at the age Leiby was. My children, in what seems like a less dangerous world of years ago were able to walk home from a day camp in safety. There are murders by lunatics every day in this country. Leiby was the unfortunate victim of one of those murders. People who blame his parents do not know what they are talking about and are disgusting to use everything and anything that happens in the Hasidic community as a condemnation of that particular sect of Judaism. However, children should also be told that it is safe to ask a cop for help even if the cop is not a Jew. But still the parents are not to blame for their child’s death.

      Also I want to say that though her sales have dropped down on many best seller lists, as somebody has mentioned, it is not only due to the push to discredit Deborah. I watch the best seller listings and notice that readers are terribly fickle these days. Books come and go off that list like wildfire. They spring alive one week and are dead in the water the next.

      Once again I do wish to stress that till a few weeks ago I never heard about this girl. I don’t know her. I just wonder why it is if something unflattering such as a book is written about the ultra-Orthodox, Jews are so sensitive and come out with outcries as if the person is a traitor. I did not find anything traitorous in her book. I find her posting now the links to all bad things written on other websites to be a problem. It is unkind and I do think Deborah is striking back and believe this all to be really sad. Her job was to tell her story and not become the next online basher of Hasidim. In other words if people are bashing her for what she did write in her book, her personal story and how she perceived it, finding every link to bad articles is coming down to the level of those who thought to so bash her in the first place. It would be better if those in her old circle were to approach her with understanding that these were her perceptions, that she felt like an outsider within her own group. Instead, and this is what Deborah is saying and writing, she is being accused of creating a situation where nobody wants to marry into her family because she is a disgrace in their eyes and in the eyes of families who would want to marry their children into that family. They are accusing her of ruining the chances for their kids. She is even claiming death threats. I do not know if that is true or not. There is right now, no proof at all on that subject.

      In many ways Deborah Feldman is still a child I think, now a hurt child striking back.

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