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Dear Deborah Feldman: It took your lies to realize my truth

Guest Post by S. Simon

Dear Deborah Feldman,

As a Non- Orthodox single Jew who lives in San Diego, let me begin by thanking you. I have never heard of your book, until my colleage ( an Italian Catholic) showed me a New York Post article link online, huffing and puffing about how backwards “my people “are. But I thank you, because you have provided me with an abundance of entertainment . From the moment I began reading about Hasidim not dining out, having cerfews, and not buckling their children in, I was fascinated ( and appalled) .Upon doing research , and reaching out to many of my New York based clients ( namely those that are ultra religious \Hasidic) I realized something. You my dear, have a brilliant imagination as I was notified from these men that their wives go out to eat, practice safety in cars, and have no cerfews. Some of them also told me that their wives pursued educations. And others said that they had excellent sex lives unlike anything you described. I was told the laws of family sanctity keep the marriage fresh and invigorating.

Of course, I immediately downloaded the book, and read every blog\facebook\twitter post since. And it seems dear, that you have a touch of mental illness- which seems to run in the family. I feel so sorry for your sad upbringing . But while you could have gone for therapy, you repeated the same pattern of your mother by leaving your community ( and worse, created a media circus of fabrications)Shame Deborah. Shame. But again. I must thank you. You awoke the inner Jew in me, as something in me desired to defend my people. What reaffirmed my hunch that you were lying, was your constant need to delete any opposing opinion on your facebook page. Instead of responding with your truth , you simply deleted the comment- hoping to make each one dissapear. Red flag.

Well Ms. Feldman- Guess What? I have been attending “shul” for about a month now, and all I see is a beautiful community . One protects one another. I’ve received numerous Shabbat invites already, and continue to discover more beauty in the religion. So, I thank you. The ignorance you speak of: cover -ups, radical beahvior, extremism, and lies, exists ten fold in the Secular world – so you have just made me realize how badly I need to better my life and become Orthodox ( in fact I may publish a book one day called “Orthodox” the scandelous rejection of my secular life. I will include just how many in my family slept around, how many kids in my class were raped, how much drugs and alcohol I’ve been exposed to, etc.- and nobody secular would jump up and defend my “story” because A. It would be no big deal.and B.there would be nothing to defend- since its a life we all know too well. I long for a day where my children will be so protected, and a community where defeding each other is the norm.

Thank You Deborah. It took your lies to realize my truth. – S. Simon

{ 143 comments… add one }
  • An-on March 4, 2012, 9:17 AM

    Funny you reacted that way; it made me decide to become a Mormon.

    • rai March 4, 2012, 10:47 PM

      Oh you just wanted an excuse to wear magic underwear!

      • Frozen Buggers March 5, 2012, 8:42 AM

        Since when does one need an excuse to wear magic underwear?

    • michelle March 5, 2012, 4:09 PM

      BRAVO!! Kudos to u and ur Jewish pride

  • zach March 4, 2012, 9:22 AM

    S. Simon – as someone newly introduced to Orthodoxy you have much to learn. While not defending Feldman’s book (which I haven’t read), you obviously have little knowledge about the ultra Orthodox and chareidi world. You’ve been going to shul for a month – wonderful. I hope you find spiritual fulfillment and a sense of community. But how does that qualify you to discuss anything whatsoever about the Satmar community, or Belz, or Lakewood, or Williamsburg, or New Square, or Monsey? Answer: it doesn’t.

    • DRosenbach March 4, 2012, 10:10 AM

      Perhaps Simon is responding to Feldman’s portrayal of her issues as being with Judaism in general as opposed to with Satmer in particular. Simon’s rebuttal may arise from Feldman’s seemingly dichotamous approach towards Judaism — insular Satmar vs. utterly secular, although to her unfortunate credit, she may not have been raised to appreciate the distinction between non-Hasidic and secular.

      • Meir March 4, 2012, 10:30 AM

        But the falsehoods in Feldman’s book have largely been relevant to her personal background only. Pretty much all of the other disturbing things in the book I was already aware of from reading Failed Messiah/Israeli newspapers/Vos Iz Neias for several years.

        In particular, on the molestation issue she didn’t even go into the details of the awfulness of the “don’t go directly to the police” view that has helped cover up a ton of molestation.

        • chava May 5, 2013, 8:16 AM

          the molestation problem, while far from great is improving. there was a time when domestic abus in the orthodox community was just as taboo and now it is not tolerated and there are many resources for women needing to escape violent husbands. there is an orthodox battered womens shelter, support groups, hotlines….molestation is coming out from under the rug, it is beginning to be addressed and i know in ten years the circumstances will be very different. there is momentum in this area like we have not seen before.

      • Meir March 4, 2012, 10:32 AM

        Is that even her approach though? Is her sending her son to a Modern Orthodox school part of the divorce agreement then?

        That seems like it would be odd, since Satmar sees, certainly, religious Zionism (which is the ideology taught in an MO school) as basically as bad if not worse (since it “pretends” [in their view] to be authentic Judaism) than total secularism.

        • DRosenbach March 4, 2012, 10:55 AM

          I would hardly consider modern Orthodox day schools are promoting religious Zionism — each school acts independently and even then, each grade may truly exist as a microcosm within that school, being heavily swayed by the particular leanings of the rebbe or morah.

        • eva May 5, 2013, 8:18 AM

          it may have been a compromise in the divorce agreement, my husband is chassidic and his ex also left the fold. he wanted to send their boys to a regualr yeshivah, she wanted to put them in public school. they compromised on a modern, zionists yeshivah which is at least still jewish and where the torah basics are taught.

    • Anonymous March 5, 2012, 2:05 AM

      U are an idiot like df yes I know secular people not (jew) woo love ultraortodox!!!!!!!!!! And satmer I know one family of6 woo all become jews ultraortodox satmer last month and they are thriving…… And I my self was a plain jew and opted to be ultraortodox u see I come from south america and let u explain wose people are those woo are not jew or worse not ortodox ! Ashem yerachem yes wee are the best of the beest u cannot refute that df is awhore. Woo wanted to be at easy with the bad choice to left god!!! So ranted about satmer and the ultra ortodox and yes she is mental sik so u too!!!!!

      • jen March 6, 2012, 3:34 AM

        It’s always good to run things through spell check if you want people to take your comment seriously.

      • Anonymous May 5, 2013, 9:31 AM

        lol dumb inbred mamzer

    • yitzy March 5, 2012, 6:47 AM

      you missed his point read it again

    • chava May 5, 2013, 8:14 AM

      chassidic boro park woman here. i can confirm that this stuff is all crap. i am the only one from among my friends who does NOT have a masters degree and that was by choice. i have no curfue, and not only do women eat out, but cafes market to chassidic women heavily as they are the core of the clientele. my sex life is lovely thank you very much, despite the fact that i live in boro park, my husband wears a shtreimel and yiddish is our first language. deborah feldmans experiences, if true at all, are certainly not typical and instead point to the dysfunction in her own environment, not the community at large.

    • Pull my beard harder May 5, 2013, 9:29 AM

      Agreed. Give it time honey. Once you are done trying to fit in, and the smoke clears and you look around, you will be like WTF did I do.

  • Esther March 4, 2012, 9:52 AM

    Wonderful post. Thank you.

  • tuvia March 4, 2012, 10:14 AM


    Since you’re posting on here… I’ll assume you’ve never seen Lakewood, Monsey, or Queens either. Where S.Simon may be fresh at, there are those of us that are regulars. Everything he/she said is true… there is a true beauty in the frum community. But to experience such an amazing community, you have to be ready to find it.
    Good things come to those that search for it. Nothing for those that sit and bitch.

    • zach March 4, 2012, 6:08 PM

      Uh, yeah, I have. I’ve lived there for years and have many family members in the chassidic & yeshivish communities of NY. And I’m not really arguing with your point: there IS much that is very beautiful and fulfilling and rewarding in it, from the sharing of the myriad of life events to the communal joy of the holidays to the social support of bikur cholim, etc etc. This is what attracts and keeps people in all fundamentalist communities. There is a catch, of course, and that is 100% conformance. And the price of that conformance can be very, very high. Better hide the fact that a kid has a physical/emotional/spiritual problem or your other kids will be at risk of shidduchim. Consult the rabbi first if you think someone may be a sex offender or you may be ostracized as an informer. (Thank goodness that SECULAR society has raised the awareness and criminality of abuse so that the Admors & Rebbes & Roshei Yeshivot & Agudahs can no longer turn a blind eye). I could go on and on and on.

      Yes, there is much that is very beautiful about ALL of these communities. But there is often much that is very very ugly.

      • Anonymous March 5, 2012, 4:42 AM

        Having been born and raised in Lakewood, I could not agree with you more. I lived it. I moved as soon as I was able to. You hit the nail on the head. Beautifully said.

        • Ellie March 5, 2012, 4:45 AM

          Ugh I hate ppl that leave anonymous. Don’t know why that happened. That anonymous was me

    • BZ March 5, 2012, 9:59 AM

      “But to experience such an amazing community, you have to be ready to find it.”

      Nope, I landed in Morristown for one reason and one reason only: I got a job here and had to move.

      Of course, I was already frum (as frum as you can be when you attend shul about once a month), but the support from the community I’ve gotten here is nothing short of astounding. And if I have to move again, I *will* be searching for a community just because I’ve had this wonderful experience.

  • Civie March 4, 2012, 10:49 AM

    Not everything is Satmar – there are other ways and Judaism is beautiful. Why don’t you talk about your sister?

    • DRosenbach March 4, 2012, 10:59 AM

      I think Satmar can be very appealing; Hasidism in general is a very complex society infused with exquisite glitter and strict formality and can be quite captivating, but that’s hardly the issue.

      The issue here is really that Feldman found it unappealing and knew nothing other than her immediate surroundings; assuming that she was forced to choose between bullet-proof stockings or crabcakes, she chose the latter.

      And Judaism is largely beautiful for those who (choose to) appreciate it. Christianity probably appears very beautiful to its adherants. If Feldman grew to find Judaism distasteful, it’s no wonder she doesn’t find it beautiful.

      • shaina Stern March 5, 2012, 10:16 AM

        Thank you for telling us the ither side of the story!!

  • Critic March 4, 2012, 11:14 AM
  • Williamsburg March 4, 2012, 12:16 PM

    Why your Hasidic friends are innocently wrong.

    I call this syndrome “The polished orthodox Jew syndrome” a relative to the better known “Zich moychel g’vain di avieros” or “Forgave themselves their own sins” disorders.

    It’s known in the world of psychology as “Dissociative Disorder”. We need this trait for survival when our senses get overwhelmed, or our memories too painful, or the feeling of being ‘mentally raped’ from years of low IQ antiquated learning and racial indoctrination.. Instead of our brain going haywire or even shutting down, a mechanism that triggers some form of dissociative disorder kicks in that lets the brain tune out and shut down memories. Your ‘hasidic’ friends are innocent of this syndrome, and that’s why it’s very important for THEM to read the book. Deborah did an amazing job in her book to take us hasidim and orthodox -and people who grew up in ultra religious groups around the world in general- back to the memories our brain has successfully shut down. The demeaning or even torture of anyone not complying with the stringent tznius (modesty laws) (see it live in Israel!) or the constant bashing of science, or how the none Jew doesn’t eat or sleep, he fresses and puuffs, or how they only work so that they can drink, and how all their hard work and research and great findings that make our life better is only because God wants all those good stuff to end up serving the people in these curriculums. And that’s the tip of the iceberg. I shall not even enter the world of GET and Aginah or even religious custody battles.

    Your Hasidic friends and even myself have ‘forgiven’ that whole past as part of our brain’s ability to conveniently discount all the negative and moved on at the expense of thousands and thousands of kids going through it. You only need to listen to Rebbe Viess tapes to see it! or the speeches from our religious leaders which some made it on youtube.

    Deborah decided to bring us all back to memory lane. Although she did say a lot of untruths about her personal relationship (due to her being molested and herself having to great confusions about sexual relationships maybe?) but altogether a book that resonates with millions of people who had their brains hijacked from the second they were born.

    The proof in what I just said lies in the fact that every single day I have to DEPROGRAM my own kids with stuff and ideas they come home from cheder with.

    • Anonymous March 4, 2012, 10:15 PM

      I don’t mean to be rude, and I am trying to find the nicest way of saying this, but what are you talking about?! “mentally raped from years of low IQ antiquated learning and racial indoctrination” -REALLY?!? It is a known fact that orthodox Jewish schools’ students score better on national exams compared to students in public schools. Ask people who have attended both public schools and orthodox Jewish private schools and they will tell you the enourmous difference between the two =the orthodox ones are significantly more challenging, not to mention the added challenge of a dual curiculum of both secular and religious studies. And have you every learned gemarah or halachah (jewish laws)? They both require a lot of focus, intelligence, and review in order to understand them and remeber all the complexities involved.
      P.S. The random rant you made about their views (ex. “how they only work so that they can drink…”) lacked any foundations in truth and sounded more like a bitter individuals personal experiance. This is evident in terms you use such as “deprogram your kids” etc. My personal suggestion to you is to remove your kids from a school that does not share your values instead of confusing them with mixed messages.

      • soso March 4, 2012, 11:19 PM

        look at the spelling and grammar that the hareidi masses display in english and also in hebrew.

        Look at what they know in physics, chemistry, biology…

        I don’t think they would score well, neither in language nor in science tests.

        • Anonymous March 6, 2012, 9:30 PM

          Pot calling the kettle black apparently. Basically the school systems have failed us all in some way or another.

      • BZ March 5, 2012, 10:08 AM

        I attended public school and made the switch while getting into Junior High. The secular education was horrible in the Orthodox school. They hired some very good teachers quite by accident (considering the majority was anywhere from barely adequate to horrendous) who got me interested to go to college (I probably would have gone anyway because my parents would insist), but I can tell you that what you’re saying is not true and this was an MO school.

      • Sarah March 5, 2012, 3:50 PM

        You’re talking about Modern Orthodox schools. Williamsburg is talking about chassidish schools, and what he says about them is true.

    • Anonymous March 5, 2012, 3:39 AM

      Nice 😉

  • Yisroel H. March 4, 2012, 1:22 PM

    The fact that people are so disturbed by this shameless quest for media attention called a book is a symptom of the fact that behind it there are indeed some deep problems in the frum community. As imperfect as the messenger and the means of her message, it doesn’t change that stark reality.

    Yisroel http://www.kosherunicorn.com

  • nicknonymous March 4, 2012, 1:47 PM

    I’m glad you found whatever it is you found in religion, but as a former Hassid from Boro Park, I want to inform you a little bit about the accuracy of her claims.
    It is true that it is now much more common to eat out etc, but it is a new thing. When I was a kid, it was definitely looked down upon in some sects. We had neighbors that went out to eat, and my family and others used to gossip about them. My family used to eat pizza every Friday afternoon. We bought the pizza and carried it home, but we felt so uncomfortable that we made a huge detour, so we don’t have to walk past a local Chedder where everyone will see that we eat pizza!
    I started going to college when I was 19. I went to a local college called Mechon L’parnasa, a branch of Touro. I had to sneak in and out every time to make sure no one sees me. My parents and family were trying to convince me to drop college because it would ruin my chances and my siblings’ chances for a good Shidduch. Bare in mind, classes are separate for men and women; in fact, they’re two separate (adjacent) buildings.
    Lemme tell you something. I come from a family with more than 10 siblings. My father was abusive to all his kids and to his wife for over 30 years now. My mother would not divorce him to make her life and the lives of her kids easier. Why? Because it would ruin Shidduchim and the family ‘image’ that everyone there is so obsessed with.
    It is natural to want to defend ‘your people’. It’s why almost all Jews, regardless of their knowledge in the subject and regardless of their political orientation, will blindly defend Israel. It’s natural. When the search was going on for Lieby Kletzky and then the gruesome discovery, I was much more horrified than if it were my current non-Jewish neighbor’s boy, even though I’m completely secular. In fact, even though my siblings hate my father, often saying they wouldn’t shed a tear if he got run over, if I were to go on national TV (Dr. Phil etc) and tell my story, my siblings would suddenly deny he was an abusive father… Again, it’s natural to want to defend your people when you feel it makes them look bad..
    Now, I know there are bad things going on in the secular community, but that doesn’t make it OK for a community to deprive their kids of basic rights like education and freedom of (from) religion. See, in some Islamic countries there are no drugs. People get lashes and harsh punishments for drinking alcohol. One might say that their lifestyle is beautiful and free from all the ‘evil’ things you find in the secular world. But we all know that’s not true. The most important thing a person can and should have is freedom, and that doesn’t exist in the Hassidic community just like it doesn’t exist in Iran.
    I don’t know if you have already made a decision, or you are still open to realizing that becoming more religious is a bad idea.
    Good luck either way!

    • Chayala March 4, 2012, 10:23 PM

      Becoming more religious isn’t necessarily a terrible idea, especially depending on which branch of Judaism we’re talking about… but it’s definitely true that the original post here is pretty thoroughly misguided 🙁

      I haven’t read the book yet, and I plan to, so I won’t speak to whether or not she got it *all* right, but the particular things I keep seeing Jews calling out as being bogus, are very much not.

      Orthodox Judaism, at least the more extreme versions (which definitely include Satmar) are cults. Thoroughly and completely. They’re generally thoroughly misogynistic, terribly xenophobic, and things like molestation, rape and all other wonderful such things DO happen, and with alarming frequency. More disturbing is how we cover them up, as though it makes it all better 🙁

      When I heard the stories a few years ago about that boy’s Yeshiva Rabbi getting arrested for molestation, I can’t tell you how happy I was; sad that it was a Jew making us all look bad in the public media, but so incredibly happy that it meant he might not be able to keep doing it, and that it might encourage consequences for future offenders. I remember growing up and hearing stories like that. I have not one but *two* friends I met in college who talked about having these experiences (one with the very same guy who got arrested) and about how their parents would either not believe them, or tell them to just keep quiet about it.

      There’s a lot of craziness, and a lot of covering it up; from the extreme things I mentioned above, to the insanity of hassidic women shaving their heads and having no independence. It’s random, it’s insane, and it’s got nothing to do with any legit tenet of Judaism. Judaism itself is awesome; it’s beautiful, it’s spiritual, it’s respectful, it’s intelligent… but the modern day implementations of orthodoxy are perversions 🙁

      • Question everything March 5, 2012, 3:55 AM

        Unfortunately Judaism has been hijacked by these extremists, ruining its beauty, much like Islam the religion of peace has been hijacked by terrorists.
        It’s even more sad that modern orthodox and reformed Jews let it get to their head that they are not good enough, not holy enough, and not observant enough, so they let the ultra orthodox get away with so much. They should take a stand and fight extremism here like they fight it in Israel.

    • Robin March 6, 2012, 10:13 AM

      Dear Nicknonymous:

      I am moved by your story and feel its truthfulness. I am a BT of 20 years with a prep school/ivy league background who finds the teachings of Chassidus to be oxygen in my life. I have traveled throughout the frum world, from Lakewood to Monsey to Crown Heights and Borough Park. I could write a book on this subject, but I must share with you that I find “the way” of peaceful, pleasant inspiration through the Lubavitcher Rebbe and Rebbetzin. Jews are flawed; Torah is a universal blueprint. I try not to confuse Jews with Judaism. Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. As I traveled through the Hareidi velt, experiencing Hareidi culture intimately, I met many beautiful people, but had problems with some of the “pressures’ described in other posts. However, the Rebbe never disappointed me– I found encouragement and support to pursue a path of excellence. I found examples of brilliant, evolved Jewish women. I found spiritual and creative liberation and direction. I have come to the conclusion that the approach of the Rebbe and the philosphy of Chabad Chassidus is Hareidi culture in its rectified state– the middle road, in tune with thwe world, capable of embracing all questions. This is a deep and complex subject and I did not arrive at this understanding hastily. I love Judaism. I love Torah. I love my people. We must be the first to boldly prosecute those of our own who commit heinous acts. We must never shut down another’s right to critical thinking. The Torah can handle it all. The Rebbe never wanted people to be less than. He revealed the beauty and eternal truths of our holy heritage. It is tragic when community leaders utilize manipulation and fear to control followers– it is entirely un-Jewish.

  • Eric March 4, 2012, 2:05 PM

    I grew up in an Ultra-Orthodox and left 18years ago and never looked back,
    First, Good for you whatever makes you happy go to shull eat kosher ect.
    Secondly in any of the communities (i.e. Monroe NY, Boro-Park, Williamsburg, New-Skwer, Lakewood) they are Ultra to Extreme Orthodox unlike Chabad/Lubavitch or the one you’re probably attending is considered the left-wing liberal,
    A) do you think that they will actually give you the real thing if you so called talked to them ultra you’ll know better,
    B) everyone wants to be a critic, you have to watch the whole movie and not just show up to the building its shown in, once you live in any of the places mentioned above come back and will talk, until then have a great life and stop pretending that any of you understand.

  • anon March 4, 2012, 2:36 PM

    The cynic in me – plus the poor grammar – tells me this is written by a FFB chossid. It’s nice, though.

    • Chani March 4, 2012, 5:02 PM

      I got the feeling too that it was written by a FFB chassid. something seems “off”

    • Anonymous March 13, 2012, 9:19 PM

      S Stern’s spelling and grammar wasn’t much better.

      “Cerfew”? “Dissapear”? Really??

      • Anonymous March 13, 2012, 9:21 PM


        I wrote that. Sorry, I thought you were replying to the above comment, not to the author.

  • Mimi March 4, 2012, 2:56 PM

    Regardless of whether or not Deborah lied about specific details, there’s no question that the ultra-orthodox lifestyle is a restrictive one. It may work for many people, but for some it’s unbearable. The problem for the latter category is that there is generally little to no alternative allowed them by the community. I would never say shame on anyone for trying to escape from a restrictive situation. Especially if I only know anything about it by asking around and not from personal experience. Certainly she and Simon and Schuster should be held accountable for facts that were not well-vetted, but I for one congratulate her for escaping from a community that, as I can tell you from personal experience, is not always easy to live in (at least not for me) or escape from.

  • Proud of the focus of their energies? March 4, 2012, 3:16 PM

    I agree with almost every post here.

    But I question what ex-Hasids see in the organization called Footsteps, which most ex-Hasids hold so dear.

    From some of the posts on this site, you’d think the Footsteps/OTD movement is flourishing by leaps and bounds. Nonsense. It doesnt even claim to have more than a few hundred members. And why would it?

    Ive seen more Orthodox Jewish kids move to the right religiously than to the left, choosing to be MORE religious than their parents.
    YU/Sterns, highly respected Modern Orthodox undergrad schools, for males and females, with medical and law schools of their own, have a great percentage of their graduates, both males and females, many doctors and lawyers among them, who choose to be more religious than their parents and upbringing and raise their children more religiously, or equally religious, very rarely less religious.
    Their desire and interest in religious observance is not coming from naivete or unworldliness. Most grew up in homes where both parents were doctors, lawyers and assorted other successful professionals, who respect all their co-religionists and choose to encourage religious observance.

    And then theres the very few hundred members belonging to Footsteps, a very tiny minority of Jews, like Ms Feldman, and other graduates of Footsteps, the OTD mill, the organization she relishes, who have no use for religious observance, other than Jewish food and parties, and like Ms Feldman, would do anything for a buck, even trashing her beloved Bubbie who sacrificed tremendously for her in any way needed, and trashed all that her beloved Bubbie held dear, to make the book more $ucce$$ful.

    Thats what they teach in Footsteps, the OTD school, where these foul mouths become more so, and proud of it, very different than YU and Sterns and other universities worldwide, whose main focus is educational pursuits.

    Hey, you want to be less religious, thats fine. Hey, you want to be totally irreligious, thats fine. But for heavens sake, dont hide out in that KGB-type organization, where outsiders are prevented entrance, where the members are foul-mouthed individuals, investing the bulk of their time and energy, knocking their ancestors and their beliefs, in foul mouthed fashion, wherever they can.

    Unless thats the best you can do for yourself and aspire to be, without dieing of depression, from an insatiable need of accomplishment somewhere on this planet, when having failed elsewhere. Then its understanable.

    At least, try to lessen the foul language, Footsteppers. Its not becoming for anyone outside of the few hundred or so members of Foultsteps.

    • Question everything March 4, 2012, 3:39 PM

      You’re so misinformed, it’s scary. But what else can I expect from a poor brainwashed kid.
      It’s sad. You’re probably an adult, but you’ve never had a thought of your own. You’ve never questioned a thing, whether it’s the crooked Halachos, the twisted Minhagim, or anything your rabbis (human beings) have told you.
      And now you’re in a defensive mode, so before finishing reading a pro OTD post or article, you’ve already decided to disagree..

      • Anon March 4, 2012, 4:01 PM

        And you, who have tasted the fulfillment of defending foul-mouthed OTDers/Footsteppers, know it all, have seen it all, and chose that.

        Guess its where you were accepted.

        So sorry.

    • Eli March 5, 2012, 6:46 AM

      “KGB-type organization, where outsiders are prevented entrance” – Ha! You have a very vivid imagination, my friend. The whole organization was set up because Orthodox Judaism is a cult, where if you don’t follow the rules you are shunned by your family and community. And BTW, there are many in Footsteps (like myself), who remain in the community, send their kids to yeshiva, keep Shabbos, just so not to harm their family. You don’t know about us because we need to remain in the closet. I happen to be considered a very “chashuva” member of my community – I might be even someone you know, but you would never know that I’m Orthoprax.

    • Elya March 5, 2012, 10:39 PM

      I think that’s a very not nice, insensitive, and un-understanding comment you made. If you would only try to understand and feel the pain these children of Israel went through you wouldn’t dis them so hard! I think I can say shame on you! Though defending your religion and beliefs is a good thing I believe, you should try to be fully aware of the other side’s situation before you judge it.

  • Ellie March 4, 2012, 3:16 PM

    Dear Miss Simon,

    How dare you shame another person for having a family history of mental illness? Your patronizing venom makes me believe you’re the backwards one. At least Deborah Feldman puts her name out there, you hide behind a fake name and then heap abuse on someone else. And it seems dear, that people should conclude that YOU are a slut which seems to run in the family, as you mention your family sleep around willy nilly. A crueler person might wonder if that’s why you’re single. All I can say is I feel so sorry for your sad upbringing .

    All the Torah and Mitzvot would be wasted on you, if you shame others for having an illness in their families.

    • Critic March 4, 2012, 3:46 PM

      “All the Torah and Mitzvot would be wasted on you, if you shame others for having an illness in their families.”
      Maybe my reading comprehension skills are beginning to fail me but nowhere in Ms.Simon’s post does she “shame others for having an illness in their families”.

      • Ellie March 4, 2012, 9:49 PM

        ” And it seems dear, that you have a touch of mental illness- which seems to run in the family. ”

        I call that shaming someone for having a mental illness in the family. Does Miss Simon have a medical degree? Has she examined Deborah Feldman? No? Then that’s shaming someone for having mental illness in their family.

        In fact, I wonder if that could be called libel, saying someone has a mental illness.

    • Brooke March 4, 2012, 6:44 PM


      Your Patronizing venom is misplaced.

      • Ellie March 4, 2012, 10:02 PM

        Anyone who says And it seems dear, that you have a touch of mental illness- which seems to run in the family. is shaming the mentally ill.

        Is Miss Simon willing to discuss her family history? How do we know mental illness doesn’t run in her family as well?

        It’s a cheap shot and it’s cruel.

    • ... March 5, 2012, 8:32 PM

      She said it like it is….

  • Anon March 4, 2012, 3:36 PM

    Ellie, please see post above yours.

    I agree that no one should be blamed or shamed for being a product of a family with mental illness.

    But Ms Feldman’s choosing to encourage belonging to Foulsteps, an organization promoting disdain for religion and religious observance, is equally ugly, and shameful, which she does.

    Thank G-d the Footstepper Hasids are few and far between, with nothing to sell but the idea that its preferable to rid yourself of religious practices, to attain worldliness, happiness, freedom amd success in life.

    Not too many are buying it, except for those who havent made it elsewhere and need acceptance from similar others, somewhere, as ugly as it is.

    Footsteps: foul-mouthed – using foul or obscene language; foul-spoken
    dirty – (of behavior or especially language) characterized by obscenity or indecency;

    • Ellie March 4, 2012, 10:00 PM

      There is no excuse for shaming people with mental illness. Nothing deserves being treated as a flawed for being born to the wrong parents. And I have no connection to Footsteps and know nothing of them. I don’t swear, I don’t use foul language often.

      And what’s wrong with deciding to get rid of religious practices to attain worldliness, happiness, freedom amd success in life? Everyone has a free choice. If people aren’t happy in frumkeit, let them go find their happiness elsewhere.

      Honestly, if Judaism is the truth, you have nothing to fear.

      And families can get along even across religious lines. My parents are frum and I am not. We still love each other, talk to each other all the time and share each other’s lives. I love spending Shabbos with them, even if I go home on the train afterwords. They don’t eat in my home, but happily bring their own food on paper plates for us to enjoy. We are happy.

      I traded a world that did not fit me and attained worldliness, happiness, freedom amd success in life. I still love and respect my fellow Jews, and support their choices. I am happy for friends who decide that being frum works for them.

      And what’s wrong with having a support group for people who left? It helps me to talk to friends who also left, when I miss things about that world. It lets me go back without making me lose the happy place I have found.

      The bashing of Footsteps is silly.

    • TK March 5, 2012, 10:56 AM

      “But Ms Feldmans choosing to encourage belonging to Foulsteps, an organization promoting disdain for religion and religious observance, is equally ugly, and shameful, which she does.”

      From what I know of Footsteps, they’re a support group for people who are seeking to leave Orthodoxy. As you mentioned, they are a relatively small group. Why shouldn’t a group exist to support people who want to do something different and have no support? There is already a massive network for people who want to remain in the community–it’s called “the community.” Unfortunately, some people even find themselves on the fringe without wanting to be on the fringe. If the religious community were actually such an amazing, kind, caring, appealing place for everyone, people wouldn’t need to leave. Footsteps is simply facilitating that transition in a caring way for people who some frum people would prefer to see self-destruct as it would prove their point about “OTD” dangers. The truth is the community is causing its own shitty PR, not someone like Deborah Feldman. Outsiders can casually observe meshugeh behavior and attitudes. I know of a young woman acquaintance who was from California, a non-Jew, and very unprejudiced. She taught nursery school in a public school in Boro Park. Her experiences gradually turned her off to Hasidic Jews, namely the extreme lack of neighborliness and being treated like trash simply because she was an outsider.

      Myself personally, I grew up secular, was a BT, then decided to leave Orthodoxy. I have a love for Hasidic Jewish communities, but I find it unfortunate that when I find myself in one (for work, or a visit, or whatever), I experience exactly the same treatment. It is almost worse when I dress to fit the dress code, because the scrutiny and judgement seem to intensify. In terms of Footsteps–I agree, as a former BT who believes in God, that some of the ex-Hasidic kids don’t want to hear about God. They think it’s a messed-up myth. Okay! That’s their thing! I grew up secular. I can’t put myself in their shoes. If you want to win people back to frumkeit, show them love and welcome–UNCONDITIONAL LOVE AND WELCOME. Some religious people REALLY do this. I’ve seen it in Chabad. The weird, poor, slightly “off” person gets a ride, a handout, a meal. Show that side of the community if you want to do good PR…

  • cityslick March 4, 2012, 5:06 PM

    Dear Simon,

    Nicely and eloquently expressed. Welcome to a wonderful community. And thank you for your words of wisdom. The world needs more enlightened people like you, who can see through murky darkness with clarity and vision.

  • Critic March 4, 2012, 5:14 PM

    Chassidic life is not for all us. In our view we should not be insular; we should make it our mission to inspire the world. But we part ways, , when Devorah approaches every Jewish law with cynicism and see sexual subjugation in every chassidic custom. I think she is writing herself into the text.

    I have no doubt she believed all she wrote to be true (including her allegation of castration and murder in Kiryas Joel which has been proven to be false). I wonder, however, if she is open enough to consider that her processing might be uniquely personal defined through an emotionally scarred and spiritually detached lens that has affected the way she sees the Jewish laws and customs that have inspired and unified our people for the past 2,000 years.

    her book became an immediate sensation. What is it that made it so popular? Is it an intellectual treatise, a work of authority? It is not. She writes passionately but anecdotally, poignantly but subjectively.

    She left your husband and heritage, choosing instead secular values. I have read books much more profound than hers by women who rejected secular culture, seeing its lifestyle as hedonistic, Godless, and disrespectful of their feminine dignity. They saw in secular culture a society that defines the perfect body as the perfect virtue, the undress of female as art, the augmented female figure as the appropriate trophy on the arm of the rich and famous. They chose chassidic Judaism instead.

    But their books werent featured on The View. Their stories werent highlighted in newspapers across the globe. They didnt receive a call back from Simon and Schuster. Why do you think that might be?

    It is the alleged window into the chassidic bedroom that made her book sensational. And that is because there is so little about sex in the secular world that is private, dignified and feminine anymore. It is all so public, aggressive and masculine. When a woman is provocative she is not feminine but masculine, having traded relationship for sex. Perhaps the last frontier of feminine dignity is in the religious bedroom. And she besmirched the most wonderful, intimate experiences of a community by presenting her sad personal experience as the norm.

  • Critic March 4, 2012, 5:17 PM

    I have no doubt that Devorah believed all she wrote to be true (including her allegation of castration and murder in Kiryas Joel which has been proven to be false). I wonder, however, if she is open enough to consider that her processing might be uniquely personal defined through an emotionally scarred and spiritually detached lens that has affected the way she sees the Jewish laws and customs that have inspired and unified our people for the past 2,000 years.

    her book became an immediate sensation. What is it that made it so popular? Is it an intellectual treatise, a work of authority? It is not. She writes passionately but anecdotally, poignantly but subjectively.

    She left your husband and heritage, choosing instead secular values. I have read books much more profound than hers by women who rejected secular culture, seeing its lifestyle as hedonistic, Godless, and disrespectful of their feminine dignity. They saw in secular culture a society that defines the perfect body as the perfect virtue, the undress of female as art, the augmented female figure as the appropriate trophy on the arm of the rich and famous. They chose chassidic Judaism instead.

    But their books werent featured on The View. Their stories werent highlighted in newspapers across the globe. They didnt receive a call back from Simon and Schuster. Why do you think that might be?

    It is the alleged window into the chassidic bedroom that made her book sensational. And that is because there is so little about sex in the secular world that is private, dignified and feminine anymore. It is all so public, aggressive and masculine. When a woman is provocative she is not feminine but masculine, having traded relationship for sex. Perhaps the last frontier of feminine dignity is in the religious bedroom. And she besmirched the most wonderful, intimate experiences of a community by presenting her sad personal experience as the norm.

    • Critic March 4, 2012, 10:22 PM

      Double post.Sorry!

  • Rivka March 4, 2012, 5:48 PM

    As a FFB Chossid who went all the way off, and after two years realized how naive and stupid that was and came all the way back, I would like to congratulate and welcome you home!

    • Shmuli March 5, 2012, 5:12 AM

      No, Rivka, we welcome YOU back 🙂

  • Dan March 4, 2012, 5:50 PM

    Heshy for sure wrote this.

  • Micah T March 4, 2012, 5:57 PM


    I am with you 100 percent. Judaism is a beautiful tradition. It isn’t, however, for everybody. As for those who want to leave the fold, let them. I would only ask that they do so quietly – no media circus, no exaggerations, and no sensational lies.

  • moshe March 4, 2012, 6:29 PM

    hi all ur secular jews u know good and well that ur not happy yes u know don’t give me ur lies cuz u don’t belief in it , if ur jewish ur jewish it wont help u can change but ur jewish soul is there u cant take it out to bad fool i know ur lost find a good gps is thats r tohra and go-d and he gives u and if he wants he can take u c”vs to bad ur a big time jew call it what u want

    • danny March 4, 2012, 8:06 PM

      Your grammar and spelling make my internal spell-check blow a fuse.

      • Ellie March 4, 2012, 10:43 PM

        Owch. Spellcheck needed to make this secular Jew happy.

  • Ronit March 4, 2012, 6:54 PM

    Um, people, it’s a MEMOIR, not a philosophical treatise on whether or not being religious is preferable to being secular. I think the book was honest and brave and kudos to her for writing it and following her instincts. No one should be forced to do anything they don’t want to and being religious or not is a choice people ought to have.

    • Josh March 4, 2012, 7:22 PM


      Feldman was proven to have fabricated many of the stories, I’m sure you already saw the evidence on failed messiah the NY Daily News and more..

      • Philo March 5, 2012, 7:08 AM

        She wasn’t proven to have fabricated anything. There was ONE story of a supposed murder cover-up that she reported in her book that turned out to likely have been a suicide. She was quite irresponsible in reporting an unsubstantiated rumor, (and in insisting it ti be true,) but that rumor was apparently a popular one within the community. She didn’t make it up, and she likely believed it.

        She was irresponsible in the case of ONE story, but that is a far cry from being “proven to have fabricated many of the stories”.

        • Anonymous March 13, 2012, 10:38 PM

          Yes but the Haredi pr people have created this scandal which led us to believe all the lies about her

    • Chani March 13, 2012, 10:34 PM

      Since when does a 25 year old nobody write a memoir??? Memoirs are written by famous people, presidents, people who have what to write about. What is she remembering? It all about hate.

  • Kathy March 4, 2012, 7:12 PM

    Dear S Simon, welcome to our family 🙂 Judiasm is a beautiful religion if you are out to see the beauty in it. So sorry that all those OTD fail to see it. Don’t let the negativity of the troubled souls or the ones that put judiasm in a bad light bring you down.

    As a Chassidic woman myself I can attest that our life is blissful, we also have our personal ups and downs but in no way are we oppressed or primitive. I hate when people say Deborah Feldman escaped because that’s not how it works here. All the doors are open, people are free to come and go as they please. No need to escape at all.

    Hope everything works out well for you 🙂 and my prayers are with Deborah that she too will see the light once again 🙂

    • Anonymous March 13, 2012, 10:40 PM

      Just because someone is off “your” derech doesn’t mean they fail to see the beauty of Judaism. Judaism is not one size fits all and there are plenty of Jews who may be off the derech who see the beauty in other streams or practices of Judaism that are less cultish than Chassidim

  • Yehudis March 4, 2012, 7:28 PM

    I just want to add my voice to those espousing some positivity for a change and say that I was heartened to read this post; I do hope it’s true though one never knows. As one who was born and bred in this “neferious cult” I have to say that there is no place I’d rather be, I can’t envision a more beautiful and meaningful life than the one I’m living right now, and yes I’m open-minded enough to know what’s out there and to make an informed decision that for all our scandals and idiosyncrocies, the Jewish Nation is a special one, I’m so proud and grateful to be a part of it, and I’m glad there are others who feel that way too. My heart and prayers are with Deborah for all she’s been thgrough, and I hope she finds her truth and her core very soon.

    • Anonymous March 5, 2012, 11:19 AM

      I think every person should have an open mind as you have!

    • Anonymous March 5, 2012, 4:38 PM

      VERY WELL SAID!!!! God bless you

  • frum single female March 4, 2012, 8:44 PM

    i wonder how many people commenting actually have read the book. i have. its not that bad. its just one woman’s story. her circus side show on the media is what bothers me, but the book really isnt that awful. a lot of it is true. some of us can look past the bad stuff and others of us can’t . deborah couldnt. so what. i actually think she is better off living life how she prefers to than kvetching about it like she did in the book .

    • Anonymous March 13, 2012, 10:40 PM

      according to Heshy it’s about .0000001%

  • Anonymous March 4, 2012, 9:52 PM

    I grew up in a very frum community and have left, and I never looked back. I suffered tremendously throughout my teen years, and even attempted suicide once. All my pain was a result of my parents constantly (numerous times every day) telling me that I’m an embarrassment, that I ruined my little sister’s chance of getting a shidduch, that I’m worthless, that I would never amount to anything, that I would cause my father’s death because he had a heart problem and I apparently caused him so much stress by not wanting to be frum that he would have a heart attack. The emotional abuse was unbearbale. My father cheated on my mother when she had cancer, and had a child 3 years before I was born with a Catholic woman – out of wedlock… But all that did not matter. The only thing that mattered was that I didn’t want to be frum and they made me miserable for it. I got kicked out of Bais Yakkov when I was 14 and had to go to a public school. I remember one time I snuck out of the house at 5:30 in the morning one Shavuos to go to school because I had finals, and my mom didn’t bother to call in saying I was going to be absent for Shavuos (oh yea, they kept me home and made me miss school) so the absents would be unexcused. It was the first day of Yom Tov. After Yom Tov was over, they called the police and told them I ran away from home. I had to explain everything to the police, and they had to verify with the school that I was there taking my exams. My parents were so quick to call the police when I went to SCHOOL to take my FINALS but when I was raped by a well known Rabbi, they threatened to put me out on the streets if I reported it. I got pregnant because of it and had an abortion. There was no way I was going to have that baby. It took me 6 weeks to pay off the abortion because I barely had any money at age 16… Then, when my parents found a receipt from one of my payments to the abortion clinic, they yelled at me for hours telling me how I killed my baby and that I’m going to go to hell and rot for it. Please do not assume that I was 100% okay with having an abortion. I was at the time and still am against it. I was devastated looking at the screen when they did the ultrasound at the clinic. But there was no way I was going to have the Rabbi’s baby… I tried to commit suicide the night my parents found the receipt. I was still in pain from everything that had transpired and my parents screaming at me pushed me over my limit. I took almost a full bottle of benedryl pills. All I can say is thank god it didn’t work. My little sister found me and had the good sense to call 911. Of course this was just one more thing my parents said embarrased them in a way the whole community could see. Our neighbors saw the ambulance and the police cars. But, I did get the help I needed.

    Thankfully, I am out of that community now and I’m in nursing school. When I left, I reported my rape. Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough evidence 2 years after it happened so he couldn’t be charged with anything. But the report is there, and the community now knows what he did to me. Its sad that Bais Yakkov still employs him, allowing him to teach classes of girls who are the same age I was when he raped me. I guess thats just how it is. While I don’t completely agree with what Deborah Feldman says, there is a lot of truth in her book. Unfortunately, like with what happened to me, so much of it gets swept under the rug, people don’t know about it so they think it is all lies. It’s not. Many women and teens suffer and nobody knows because of the stigma associated with filing reports with authorities or seeking a life that does not fit the mold expected of everyone in the frum community. Nobody does anything until very recently, and that is only in the chasidic communities of NY (Crown Heights Watch and other organizations like that). In other communities and in other states, there are no organization like that. People suffer in silence.

    • Philo March 5, 2012, 7:03 AM

      Wow – you had a horrible childhood. Kol Hakavod for leaving and trying to rebuild your life.

      The silence you mention is the biggest problem. Some families are extremely dysfunctional like yours. And some are happy & healthy. But because of the extreme stigma of seeming different, any problems are hushed up so that everyone will seemingly fit the “happy & healthy” mode.

      • T March 5, 2012, 4:19 PM

        Ditto. I am very sorry that you had to suffer so much. I pray that you find strength, happiness, and most importantly, I think, shalva. Behatzlacha.

    • Mili101 March 5, 2012, 10:42 PM

      Im so sorry for the torture that you had gone through, thank G-d the cruel days are over. I truly give you a lot of props for being able to endure all that crap and then move on to further your education. You deserve a medal!

  • dinaanonomyous March 4, 2012, 10:29 PM

    I wanna ask all you self hating jews, what r u trying to do about it, what is it ur trying to say? All you sound like are nazis, u know what they say jews cause their own problems and this is just an example of it. When they come to hate the jews u think they’ll stop at u cuz ur not religious, dream on. Hilter went into everyones history and if they had any part of jew in them they were killed. Look into ur own history and learn from it they say history repeats itself. All the bad things that happened in jewish history was bec of jews fighting against jews and going to their non jewish counterparts for “help” what exactly r the non jews gna do about it? They’ll just hate u for it. And I know what all u jew haters will say yeh that’s what they try to teach u, no that’s not I just choose to try to not be so nave and look into my history and learn from it! Also there is so much amazing things that jewish community does for eachother and not only for eachother there r plenty of organizations that will help a non jew as well. There’s 2 sides to every coin and the grass is always greener on the other side. U can choose to see the beauty in life or not and that can b in any walk of life it ur choice!!

    • dinaanonomyous March 4, 2012, 10:54 PM

      May G-d have mercy on us all and bring the Geulah right away!!

    • But I'm better than you May 5, 2013, 9:39 AM

      Why can’t we just be part of the Human race instead of Jews. We are part of the problem holding back mankind by fractionating it. All the things the Torah says are wrong, society is embracing, wrong or right, and we are moving out of the darkness of the bronze age mentalities. Shouldn’t we stop all this anger hate and bickering and just love life and the other 99% of G-d’s creation?

  • soso March 4, 2012, 11:05 PM

    When you start exploring your religion, receivind many invitations for shabbat, this is just the start of a journey that will lead you, ultimately, to the conviction that what is described in “unorthodox” is not so far from the truth.

    You will discover that people invite you, but will not care for you (or your children as a shidduch).

    You will discover that the wealth of religious education children receive in the hareidi community does indeed keep them from learning many things that are evident to us.

    You will discover that girls are kept completely separated from boys.

    You will discover that some women indeed do not drive for religious reasons.

    You will discover that some women have more children than they really want.

    You will discover that some children are not well cared for because their parents are overwhelmed.

    You will discover that some children are packed in rooms much too small for them.

    You will discover that some children miss out on basic childhood experiences.

    All this is part of hareidi reality, just like the nice shabbat invitations you receive.

  • anon March 5, 2012, 2:07 AM

    To me, this post doesn’t read right – incorrect grammar, atrocious writing…sounds like a frummer trying to sound secular!!!

    • Anonymous March 5, 2012, 7:32 AM

      Yea and I highly doubt any chasidic or hareidi person would tell her about their sex life…. Just saying.

      • quiqui March 6, 2012, 4:01 PM

        That was my immediate reaction to reading this. It is either a very uneducated person, or a frummie making something up. This is silly. It makes us all look bad.

        • Anonymous March 13, 2012, 10:42 PM

          Just like bashing Feldman

  • This is what you want? March 5, 2012, 5:01 AM

    Soso, so youre unhappy with hareidi mentality.

    Those who choose, hopefully not yourself included, to live among the OTD/Footsteps community for relief of their ills and pain, often inflict more pain on themselves, both emotionally and physically, than they went in with. You know most are not there solely for the educational help. Theyre there to flex and train their negativity muscles and detox from religion and be introduced to what they preceive as a healthier religion, described below.

    How sad. Smoke, dream, drink, drug, party and lust on, bed-hop on, birth control on, abort on, etc, all or some of the above, till youre so swollen you can barely see your eyes (you can easily recognize drugged, depressed, highly medicated, people in a fog) to dull your pain, if you choose, if it prevents your becoming suicidal. Take a good honest look in the mirror. If you feel you cant break away because of the friendships youve developed, and your physical needs and lust being satisfied, keep each other company, far away from the 99% + of the Jewish population, who choose to live otherwise. (Sure, the bulk of religious people you know live exactly as negatively as described above, or more. Tell that to yourself over and over and over and over, until you convince yourself).

    Or gravitate to a more healthy lifestyle, both emotionally and physically. Its your choice alone. For every negative role model in the religious community there are hundreds who are positive to outweigh them, unless you choose to focus on the warts of religious people you know, and I agree they exist, and only the attractiveness of the above described lifestyle. To Footsteppers, Religion=bad, Non-observant freedom=good.

    Who are the Footsteps role models? Name one! They graduate Footsteps with an MA degree- (Mocking Ancestors), yipee! Deborah Feldman? Theyre not role models at all.

    You want to be among positive people, with positive goals, try befriending those in positive atmospheres, like the YU/Sterns crowd whose goals are achievement oriented, if you desire to lessen your religious observance somewhat. They have goals other than achieving a degree in “M.A.” and role models whose predominant focus is not encouraging others growth in their unique “M.A.” field, in the company of very angry people.

    Try it, you might like it. It might be a refreshing change away from negativity. You dont want to be among them in ten or twenty years. You deserve more.

    • Ellie March 5, 2012, 4:24 PM

      “Smoke, dream, drink, drug, party and lust on, bed-hop on, birth control on, abort on, etc, all or some of the above, till youre so swollen you can barely see your eyes (you can easily recognize drugged, depressed, highly medicated, people in a fog) to dull your pain, if you choose, if it prevents your becoming suicidal. ”

      I don’t smoke anything but turkey. I do daydream, but who doesn’t? I don’t drink alcohol, I don’t do any drugs, I rarely go to parties as I’m too busy studying, I do lust but I call it having a crush, I have never slept with ANYONE and plan to wait till marriage, I’m not on any birth control, I have never been pregnant and so I can’t have an abortion, I am not drugged, depressed, highly medicated or anything but someone who is no longer religious. I’m pursuing an advanced degree, I’m active in politics and my idea of parties is having a tea party with my little cousins when I babysit. Seriously, it’s sad. Just stop trying to scare people about being OTD.

  • emunah March 5, 2012, 6:14 AM

    This post was a nice beginning of a day. As a convert past the stage of idealization of Jewish community I am really amused with the comments. I understand that behind each comment is a person with her/his unique personal story and experience. So far I had more experience with the secular society and in fact I still have as I believe in Torah im Derech Eretz. I want to address some points that commentators brought in defense of DF.

    1. the issue of cover-up of child abuse – it’s not unique to Jewish Orthodox community. Look at the recent example of the coach I-forgot-his-name – his abuse of young boys went on for years and was unreported despite the apparent freedom of reporting anything. There was even a protest of parents who couldn’t accept the truth… I could give you hundreds of examples like this and nobody should be surprised – the very nature of the crime – its severity and the fact that it involves gullible children makes it hard to detect it.

    2. the issue of repressed sexuality – I think that only people who were raised in a secular culture can truly comprehend how repressive for the genuine sexuality is the rampant commercialization of Eros and availability of hard-core porn. For the twenty-something who just broke free from the “oppressive cult” the most important is that suddenly s/he can have sex in abundance. In the theory at least. But as you will live in this world a little longer you will understand that not quantity is important but quality and this is sorely lacking in a world were sexuality is carefully stripped off any meaning.

    3. the issue of oppressing women – about this I could write a lot, I will try to present my point of view in very few sentences. The most important power of the womanhood is the ability to create a human being and nurture him/her until s/he will become independent. In my opinion in the secular culture women are severely restricted in experiencing and realizing this power. From the young age their are indoctrinated that to become valuable part of society they should become like men – measure their self-worth in terms of achievements, successful careers. Yet for the vast majority of women having children and family is the most important thing so they try to juggle both goals. Sadly their male counterparts at the same time are in a state of prolonged adolescence well into their forties so building a stable family or even long-term relationship is very hard (see p. 2).

    4. the issue of insufficient education – well, this is laughable. I hate the break the news for you – but the majority of people is of average cognitive abilities and no matter what curriculum they will get they will never achieve an intellectual depth. In a secular version they will just watch TV or play video games, in the Orthodox community they at least will read some books or attend some lecture even if afterwards they just mindlessly repeat what other say. The bottom line – the wisdom is scarce EVERYWHERE. Looking at the numbers of people who are medicated, suicidal, depressed in the secular world makes one think if that so called freedom really brings happiness.

    • Yehudis March 5, 2012, 4:55 PM

      Thank you for your well-spoken comment. It’s nice to know that others feel this way too and I’m not just a hopeless romantic believing in the beauty of Judaism

  • Eli March 5, 2012, 6:49 AM

    “you can easily recognize drugged, depressed, highly medicated, people in a fog” – really? I happen to be a footstepper who is Orthoprax, and I’m considered a very chashuva member in my community – I’m involved with my son’s yeshiva, involved with my shul etc, etc. YOU WOULD NEVER GUESS IN A MILLION YEARS that I don’t believe in yiddishkeit. I hardly even go to footsteps just to protect my anonimity.

    • This is what you want? March 5, 2012, 7:02 AM

      What makes you Orthoprax?

      Do you pretend publicly not to smoke, drink, take drugs recreationally, party and lust on, bed-hop on, birth control on, abort on, etc, all or some of the above, with foul language as dessert?

      How I envy you!

      (Or do you refrain from doing the above and then its only whats in your head thats differentiates you from most Orthodox Jews?. Thats not bad! Then youre not a genuine “free to do as you please openly, screw everyone who doesnt like it ” Footstepper! Power to you!

  • Philo March 5, 2012, 6:50 AM

    “Upon doing research , and reaching out to many of my New York based clients ( namely those that are ultra religious \Hasidic)…”

    What sect are those clients? Based on a few answers you know she’s lying? She comes from Satmar, probably the most insular and backwards (from a perspective of modernity) sect.

    So great, because you chatted with perhaps a few Lubavitchers, you decided that Deborah Feldman is an out-and-out liar.

  • Mighty Smart March 5, 2012, 8:09 AM

    Being the wife of a Chasidish mental health professional it seems very clear that Deborah Feldman is suffering from Borderline Personality Disorder. BPD. Tough mental disorder to treat.

    • Philo March 5, 2012, 9:19 AM

      Being the husband of someone in the legal profession, it seems pretty clear to me that… um… nothing at all.

      My wife’s profession doesn’t give me special insight into people’s legal issues.

      • This is what you want? March 5, 2012, 9:28 AM

        Philo, while I agree with your comment, with the inaccuracies agreed upon by both religious and OTD people (thats a unique feat!), its pretty obvious Ms Feldman has some issues with telling the truth.

      • Mighty Smart March 5, 2012, 9:59 AM

        Oh my it is so clear that she is mentally disabled. If she wouldn’t then she would be able to handle all the criticism that she is getting. She is constantly tearing those down.

        People who have BPD are convinced of their lies, and manipulate people to truly believe them. She certainly didn’t expect the negative stir that will come back to haunt her for years.

        • Anonymous March 5, 2012, 11:33 AM

          Mighty, Deborah is not in the obligation to respond all of those negative comments! just saying 🙂

        • Anonymous March 13, 2012, 10:45 PM

          Slounds like The Kuzari argument – I guess the authors of the Torah are suffering from BPD as well

  • daniel gottesman March 5, 2012, 9:36 AM

    You have to be an idiot to take this post seriously. Shes a single non jew from california who doesnt know shit about chasidut. She reaches out to New York based clients and that’s her source for which she is now founding her truth. I’m very happy that this story has brought you closer to god but sweetheart if you think the “ultra religious” people you reached out to were being honest with you you are even more delusional then I already think you are. Good luck.

    • Anonymous March 6, 2012, 7:19 AM

      Daniel, “Im very happy that this story has brought you closer to god but sweetheart if you think the ultra religious people you reached out to were being honest with you you are even more delusional then I already think you are.”

      While I suspect this letter was not written by anyone near what they described themselves to be, I think YOU’RE MORE delusional to think that all ultra religious people are less happy than irreligious people. Possibly some are unahppy, a tiny minority, no more than the numbers of unhappy people in society at large.

      (By the way are Orthodox Sabbath observers, ultra religious in your eyes?)

      You sounds unhappy though.

      Maybe youve been hanging around Footsteps foul mouthed role models too long.

  • Anonymous March 5, 2012, 11:10 AM

    Ok, here is my opinion. I have been working with Orthodox Jews for years and I had noticed that some of them were very polite and had good manners like saying “hello”, “Good Morning” when they get to a public place like a store, clinic or whatever! but there were some that they just dont even look at you, like when they talk to you, they are just looking somewhere else. Or when you are walking in the street they just get apart and closed they just because they dont want to look at you..So I think that this is very disturbing! and I am refering to the men especifically! amd about Deborah’s point of wiew I think that she is just refering the way her family was, she is not steoreptyping anyone! Anyway, she has the right to express herself, We are here in the United States, we are not in Israel or whichever country that do not accept freedom of speech, let her live..

    • Me March 5, 2012, 11:37 AM

      oh my goodness is Feldman also looking for attention? Just like Pearl who put herself on Dr. Phil. Girls really, get a life.

  • jay pink March 5, 2012, 12:09 PM

    Brothers and sisters wake up!
    We have it all wrong. How many people of ours go otd and turn to drugs etc… end up in Jail or 6 feet under for overdose, do any of us turn a eye to them? do any of us see whats going on 14,15 ,16 year olds with no yeshiva or girls school because they were kicked out why? because they are from a broken home. What are they left with? no education where can they make money? steal, drugs, hore etc.
    Heres a women no she didnt turn to drugs no she didnt hore her body out, she is hurt and wrote a book about it. Im not saying she is right, nor am i saying the stories are true however what is true is that she is hurt what is true is that 10 years ago noone looked her way to help her out, and now she took her inner feelings and published it every jew is out there bashing her. Is this the way to get attention ? is this the only way youll get someone to look at you and help you out? I guess so heres the proof. Where were all the rabbis and yidden that are upset at her when she needed the help, where were you when she needed you. Now you come and say gevald shes making fun of us gevald shes an anti semite, well rightfully so we turned away when our sister needed help and she has found her own help we might not like it but its us to blame.

    Avoiding the core, do you see a bucher 16 years old roaming the streets offer him a job help him find a yeshiva he wants to go to yeshiva but our rabbies (the same ones bashing deborah feldman) wont take him in.
    A girl from a broken family turns to guys cuz thats the only place shell get attention make her feel shes worth something tell your kids to be freinds with them same as anyone else, dont just look at them with pitty and walk further

    Im proud to be chasidish you can see the way i write that im not educated enough lol
    I was not forced into marriege
    None of my freinds were forced into marriage
    My children wear seatbelts
    i do listen to music although the beis hamikdosh is not here

    But i feel her pain if this is whats needed for her to express herself than shes right, if this is whats needed for her to make parnasah then shes right
    there is no difference if she lies in her book or when the rebbe lies to make money in different places

    we can fix this not by bashing her or the perry reich we can fix this by helping the ones that are in her position.

  • ari March 5, 2012, 12:22 PM

    truly amazing. love it.
    reach out to Rabbi Jeff Wohlgelernter in San Diego. He is truly one of the most special rabbi’s I have ever met. Go to him for a shabbat meal. Plus his wife is an amazing cook 😉

  • IMHO March 5, 2012, 12:23 PM

    Personally, I’m with all those who think this may have been written by a Chasidic FFB, or as someone suggested, Heshy himself. But its truly said that Deborah missed out on the genuine experience. Theres tremendous beauty in Jewish family life. Were fortunate to have a strong family structure, with our religion giving us a structured yet flexible framework. In the typical Jewish home, the kids look up to their parents, depend on them for guidance, and their home is a place in which they feel safe, loved, and secure. A home in which the parents, despite being busy (popping out lots of babies Im paraphrasing DF here) are happy to be raising their kids and are happy to do all the hard work required to reap the heaps of nachas thats their reward at the end of the day. Wissotzky Tea just put out a video that just about captures the beauty and joy of Jewish life check out Tribute to a Jewish Mother on Youtube.

    • Anonymous March 13, 2012, 10:47 PM

      Heshy would say if he wrote it…he always does

  • Anon March 5, 2012, 12:27 PM

    As far as freedom of speech, I will no longer be bothered by the partnership of $imon & $chuster and Ms Feldman muddying Jews reputations, when $&$ release and do everything in their power to publicize a book, focusing on the beheading of women in public squares, in the Middle East and beyond, for suspicion of unfaithfulness or having been raped. This, for simple suspicion, no proof needed, of having dishonored their families that way. And some are victims of rape! Do they want to be known as crusaders for womens rights, or not? Fair is fair!


    Perhaps Simon & Schuster is short of funds or eager informants or writers, or perhaps they have other GRAVE politically correct hesitations.

  • G.A. March 5, 2012, 1:09 PM

    It should be obvious that this is a fictional Kiruv Lit contribution by a frum person eager to prove something to themself/others, but I guess it had value as such.

    For starters, if someone tells you that they have “an excellent sex life,” the odds that they are ultra-orthodox (or perhaps even modern orthodox) are thinner than a plastic Borsalino rain cover.

    • Anon March 5, 2012, 6:30 PM

      If someone tells you they are living a warm and fuzzy life among modern secular society, where all is good, cozy and perfect and individuals have the freedom to smoke whatever, drink whatever, take drugs recreationally, party and lust on, sleep with whomever and whenever, bed-hop on, birth control on, abort on, fear and experience STD’s on and on, etc, as they please, all or some of the above, with foul language as dessert, with the everthing goes in the name of enlightenment mentality, away from the horrors of religion, believe them as much as you’d like.

      Tho who live as described above propagandize that religious people do more of the above, while at the same time!!!! saying religious people are behind the times and less fulfilled.

      They know theyre lieing.

      • G.A. March 6, 2012, 3:45 AM

        Is that really what you believe is the only alternative to Satmar?

        Sad, but at least we now know that the ultra-Frum patrol the Internet, which should have the effect of mellowing them out in the years to come. A Chareidi spring!

        Also, I meant that Chareidim are unlikely to discuss their sex life, and would probably call it their gender life if they did.

        • Anon March 6, 2012, 9:57 AM

          “Is that really what you believe is the only alternative to Satmar?”

          Hell, NO!

          But hanging around some ex-Hasidic Footsteps members, thats the direction THEY took when THEY left Hasidism, unaware or uninterested in anything in between, foul-mouthed and all.

  • Idea March 5, 2012, 1:26 PM

    I have a little recommendation, read the book “The Meister Plan” by Dr. Tuvia Meister. He got inspired to become a Baal T’shuva from watching a TV show. It’s a heartwarming and very funny book.

  • Anonymous March 5, 2012, 3:03 PM

    of this i envey her. A gevaldiga zchus of machzer b’tchuva!

    • lpd March 5, 2012, 4:58 PM

      Gut gezokt!!

  • Raphael March 6, 2012, 5:15 AM

    The word is “curfew”, not “cerfew”. Sigh.

  • Modgyer March 6, 2012, 9:33 AM

    Saying goes u win some u loose some! I say we (satmar) win most and loose some!!!

    • Alter Cocker March 8, 2012, 1:40 PM

      You ‘loose’ everything when you type like that.

  • anonymous March 6, 2012, 3:26 PM

    Most of these comments are seriously heartbreaking. Judaism does NOT equal Chasidus! Orthodox does Not equal Chasidis as well! Chasidus is a beautiful sect of our religion when followed properly- when its to an extreme and abused, its absolutely the opposite of what Judaism is. It is definitely not for everyone. It is really sad for those of you who left Judaism altogether. Hopefully one day you will be able to see all the beauty that there is in the Orthodox community and you will proud to be apart of it.

    • Cultlike! March 7, 2012, 6:24 AM

      “It is really sad for those of you who left Judaism altogether. Hopefully one day you will be able to see all the beauty that there is in the Orthodox community and you will proud to be apart of it”

      Thats the machination of Footsteps at work! Orthodox is a dirty word there. With knowledge of the KGB nature that exists within Footsteps, where all programs are held at undisclosed locations and closed to anyone who dont fit the organization’s profile of an ideal member, who might be interested in attending and gaining from what Footsteps has to offer, how are they totally different than Hasids, who they mock, many of whom reject those who arent exactly like them? I think Footsteps goes a step further. I have yet to see any other Jewish organization which is that hidden and selective in who they allow to partake in events. The closest to describe it, is KGB-ish.

      What are they so theatened by and fearful of?

      Footsteps encourages movement away from ANY form of Orthodoxy, not only Hasidism. Members and staff there are closer to agnosticism than Judaism.

      Even highly educated highly intellectual mainstream Orthodox people who are Sabbath observant, arent allowed membership or participation in any activities. Non-members arent allowed entry to any activities or programs, all held in undisclosed locations, for fear of anyone too Jewish attending.

      Ive heard people refer to Hasidism as a cult, because of their wanting to be different and separate, grooming their members to be clone-like. In my eyes Footsteps and their members are just as cultlike in their so limiting membership and activities ONLY to prospective Ms Feldmans, in cookie cutter style.

      Its just one other kind of a restrictive cookie-cutter cult.

      No Jews who seek to observe Judaism as they please, need apply. Unless the mode of observance they choose pleases Footsteps founders and staff.

      The machination of cultlike cloning at work. And this with the approval and funding of UJA Federation. Jewish, huh.

  • CK March 6, 2012, 4:04 PM

    That was my immediate reaction to reading this. It is either a very uneducated person, or a frummie making something up. This is silly. It makes us all look bad.

  • Anonymous March 10, 2012, 5:57 PM

    Why did I almost have tears reading this?

  • anonymous March 11, 2012, 11:23 PM

    To all those who feel disillusioned:
    Never confuse Jews with Judiasm. Yidishkeit is perfect, people are not.

    • Heshy Fried March 19, 2012, 1:22 PM

      Yiddishkeit is the farthest from perfect we can get.

      • Anon March 19, 2012, 1:44 PM

        Can you perhaps enlighten us to what is the closest we can get to perfect?

        How would you react towards a child of yours, or relative’s child, who wanted to choose a different path than yours and become Orthodox? Hasidic?

        Are others entitled to a different opinion, or must everyone have the same opinion?

  • Shalom Boris March 18, 2012, 9:12 PM

    Orthodox is the worst religion of them alllllllllllllllllll!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Darchei Noam Oceanside SUCKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Ill sponsor lewd language sure, sign me up! March 19, 2012, 10:35 AM

    Shalom Boris, you didnt like Darchei Noam Oceanside ?

    Why not try Footsteps Yeshivah, the place where all you have to do is mumble lewd language, and write love letters to their supporters, which they ask you to do regularly, to fit in.

    Lovingly, sponsored by UJA, United Jewish Agnostics, Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, Jewish Foundation for the Education of Women, Alan B. Slifka Foundation, Independence Community Foundation, Bikkurim: An Incubator for New Jewish Ideas, Chais Family Foundation, United Way of New York City, Dobkin Family Foundation, Natan Buchman Foundation, Jewish Women’s Foundation of NY, Solelim, etc.

  • Ill sponsor lewd language, sure, sign me up! March 19, 2012, 10:45 AM

    Shalom Boris, Im so sorry.

    To fit in, theres one more prerequisite.

    1-mumble lewd language
    2-write love letters to their supporters, mentioned earlier, which Footsteps Yeshiva asks you to do regularly
    3-mock Hasids

    Congratulations! Youre now a Footsteps hero!

  • Jessica March 28, 2012, 10:44 PM

    Hi Hershy, I’m actually almost half way done with the book and so far most of the things she says are true. I live in NY and I went to a Jewish school but the Jews that live in Williamsburg are Chasidim. they are not the regular orthodox Jews that live in NY. Even though they celebrate the same holidays and read the same Torah, they have additional laws that are extreme. These Jews are of a different sect that don’t believe in the land of Israel…. etc. I come from an orthodox Jewish community in Queens and my father works in Williamsburg with Chasidim almost everyday. And I asked my father recently “do they act as if your not a real Jew?” and my father replied YES. I don’t condone Deborah Feldman for writing the book because people reading it would probably think that all orthodox Jews are like that but some of the extreme stuff she mentions in her book are true. Satmar Chasidim are just a sect of Jews that live in a secluded community in Williamsburg, Brooklyn and have additional and extreme Jewish Laws. That’s all. Hershy, I think the orthodox Jews that you’ve interviewed were not Satmar Chasidim.
    But then again, I’m not done with the book, so for all I know she might have added lies to make it interesting.

    • Mimi March 29, 2012, 4:02 PM

      For the record, it’s not just Williamsburg. There are similar extreme Chasidic groups that exist in Kiryat Joel, Monroe, Israel, and maybe a couple of others that I’m forgetting/ don’t know about. True some people will think that all Orthodox Jews are like that, but then they don’t understand what a memoir is. Feldman never says that she speaks for all Jews. In interviews she has explicitly said otherwise. Is it every memoir writer’s responsibility to take into account the conclusions that everyone who reads it might jump to?

  • M.B.C. February 11, 2013, 9:38 PM

    I’ll begin by saying the passive aggressive, “My dear,” is quite funny. It sounds like you, “my dear” Heshy, feel you have to defend something which leads anyone who reads this with half a brain with some gray matter to realize that you are insecure and lack the confidence to carry on in life without worrying about what others think. It is quite amusing how one person and her account of her life got a whole community’s panties in a twist.

  • Sharon Lieberman November 25, 2015, 10:31 AM

    cUrfew. spellcheck.

  • CJ July 11, 2019, 12:23 AM

    Lol. “The men” told you. Sounds about right.

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