Fresh Air
Fresh Air
Mar 15, 2021
'Unorthodox' Author On Her 'Scandalous Rejection' Of Hasidic Life
Play • 47 min
Deborah Feldman's memoir, 'Unorthodox,' about leaving the Satmar Hasidic community in Brooklyn inspired the Netflix series of the same name. Growing up, Feldman spoke Yiddish and was discouraged from speaking or reading English at home. She wasn't supposed to pursue an education or career, and, at 17, she entered into an arranged marriage with a man she'd barely met. Her departure from the community earned the scorn of Satmar leaders and forced a break with family members she'd known all her life. "I left on faith," she says. "I think it's important to say that, because where I come from, faith is everything. And when you leave this community, you also leave on faith — because that's how you've been trained to take risks. I sold my jewelry. I sold a book proposal. I had enough money to make a start."
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