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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Book Review: "Unorthodox"

There is a small handful of Orthodox Jews in Savannah and they generally stay to themselves, but in a small Southern town, it is impossible to section themselves off completely because there are simply not enough resources for them to live a completely sectioned off Jewish life.  Still, I pretty much thought that was as religious as it got.  I was very very wrong.

After reading "Unorthodox" by Deborah Feldman, I now know that Hasidic Jews are not simply Orthodox Jews, they are Orthodox, Orthodox Jews.  Feldman's account of growing up in the insular Satmar community in Williamsburg is harrowing.  Girls are not given a true education, are submitted to degrading hygienic practices, and are regulated in every aspect of their lives.  While I respect anybody's decision to practice religion as they please as long as it is of no harm to anyone else, I was shocked that there was so much I did not know.  This is an entirely different religion from the Judaism I know and so much of it is kept under wraps.  The customs governing marriage are interesting and at times scary.  I admit, I find it hard to imagine living like this but was so enthralled to learn of all the things that are secretly happening right under our noses.

4 out of 5 stars.

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