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Traces the author's upbringing in a Hasidic community in Brooklyn, describing the strict rules that governed her life, arranged marriage at the age of seventeen, and the birth of her son, which led to her plan to leave and forge her own path in life.
Inside the closed community of Borough Park, where most Chassidim live, the rules of life are very clear, determined by an ancient script written thousands of years before down to the last detail-and abuse has never been a part of it. But when thirteen-year-old Gittel learns of the abuse her best friend has suffered at the hands of her own family member, the adults in her community try to persuade Gittel, and themselves, that nothing happened. Forced to remain silent, Gittel begins to question everything she was raised to believe. A richly detailed and nuanced book, one of both humor and depth, understanding and horror, this story explains a complex world that remains an echo of its past, and illuminates the conflict between yesterday's traditions and today's reality.
Honorable Mention in the 2012 Casey Medals for Meritorious Journalism When Hella Winston began talking with Hasidic Jews for her doctoral dissertation in sociology, she was excited to be meeting members of the highly insular Satmar sect. While several Jewish journalists and scholars have produced largely admiring books describing the Lubavitch way of life and that group's outreach efforts to unaffiliated Jews, very little has been written about the many other Hasidic sects in the United States. Unlike Lubavitchers, members of these other groups are raised to avoid all unnecessary contact with outside society, including contact with other Jews. Winston's access was all but unprecedented. As a nonobservant Jew with little prior exposure to the Hasidic world, she never could have guessed what would happen next-that she would be introduced, slowly and covertly, to Hasidim from Satmar and other sects who were deeply unhappy with their highly restrictive way of life and sometimes desperately struggling to leave their communities. First there was Yossi, a young man who, though deeply attached to the Hasidic culture in which he was raised, longed for a life with fewer restrictions and more tolerance. Yossi's efforts at making such a life, however, were being severely hampered by his fourth grade English and math skills, his profound ignorance of the ways of the outside world, and the looming threat that pursuing his desires would almost certainly lead to rejection by his family and friends. Then she met Dini, a young wife and mother whose decision to deviate even slightly from Hasidic standards of modesty led to threatening phone calls from anonymous men, warning her that she needed to watch the way she was dressing if she wanted to remain a part of the community. Someone else introduced Winston to Steinmetz, a closet bibliophile worked in a small Judaica store in his community and spent his days off anxiously evading discovery in the library of the Conservative Jewish Theological Seminary, whose shelves contain non-Hasidic books he is forbidden to read but nonetheless devours, often several at a sitting. There were others still who had actually made the wrenching decision to leave their communities altogether. Already called a "must read" by Hasidic blogger "Shtreimel," Unchosen tells the fascinating stories of these and other rebel Hasidim, serious questioners who long for greater personal and intellectual freedom than their communities allow. In so doing, Unchosen forces us to reexamine the history of these communities and asks us to consider what we choose not to see when we romanticize them. From the Hardcover edition.
A moving and revealing exploration of ultra-Orthodox Judaism and one man's loss of faith Shulem Deen was raised to believe that questions are dangerous. As a member of the Skverers, one of the most insular Hasidic sects in the US, he knows little about the outside world—only that it is to be shunned. His marriage at eighteen is arranged and several children soon follow. Deen's first transgression—turning on the radio—is small, but his curiosity leads him to the library, and later the Internet. Soon he begins a feverish inquiry into the tenets of his religious beliefs, until, several years later, his faith unravels entirely. Now a heretic, he fears being discovered and ostracized from the only world he knows. His relationship with his family at stake, he is forced into a life of deception, and begins a long struggle to hold on to those he loves most: his five children. In All Who Go Do Not Return, Deen bravely traces his harrowing loss of faith, while offering an illuminating look at a highly secretive world.
Boychiks in the Hood is your passport to the Hasidic "underworld" -- a destination far different from popular expectations. Join Robert Eisenberg as he hangs out with an ex-Deadhead in Antwerp, makes a pilgrimage to the grave of the revered Rebbie Nachman in the Ukraine, munches mini-bagels with Rollerblading kosher butchers in Minnesota, discovers the last remaining religious Jews in Poland, talks sex with a karate-champion-turned-rabbi in Israel, and more.Simultaneously respectful and hilarious, Boychiks in the Hood is a surprising and unforgettable journey through the world's flourishing Hasidic communities that reveals this vibrant tradition as never before.
Writers' League of Texas Discovery Award Wordwrite Award Finalist: Pirate's Alley Faulkner Prize, May Sarton Award, Independent Publisher Book Award, Chautauqua Prize a Redbook Magazine and Good Housekeeping Best of the Year Houston Chronicle #1 Pick Uncovered is the first memoir to tell of a gay woman leaving the Hasidic fold. Told in understated, crystalline prose, Lax begins her story as a young teen leaving her liberal, secular home to become a Hasidic Jew, then plumbs the nuances of her arranged marriage, fundamentalist faith, and Hasidic motherhood, as her creative, sexual, and spiritual longings shimmer beneath the surface.
"Even as a child, Chaya Deitsch felt that she didn't belong in the Hasidic world into which she'd been born. She spent her teenage years outwardly conforming to but secretly rebelling against the rules that tell you what and when to eat, how to dress, whom you can befriend, and what you must believe. Loving her parents, grandparents, and extended family, Chaya struggled to fit in but instead felt angry, stifled, and frustrated. Upon receiving permission from her bewildered but supportive parents to attend Barnard College, she discovered a wider world in which she could establish an independent identity and fulfill her dream of a life unconfined by the strictures imposed upon her by a belief system that she had never bought into, a life that would be filled with the secular knowledge and culture that were anathema to her friends and relatives in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. As she gradually shed the physical and spiritual trappings of Hasidic life--the long skirts and long-sleeved blouses, the rules of kashrus, the meticulous observance of the Sabbath and the Jewish holidays--Chaya found herself torn between her desire to be honest with her parents about who she now was and her need to

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