Monday, February 20, 2012

Deborah Feldman Doesn't Have Many Friends in the OTD Community

One interesting outcome of Deborah Feldman's fiction book is that the so-called "off the derech" community is up in arms against her. It speaks volumes about her character when the same people who are supposed to be on her side are the most outraged by her behavior. They believe that she is doing a disservice to them by making them all look like liars, fools and sour losers. The following is part of a longer article on Jewcy:

Feldman wrote her memoir in the immediate wake of tearing away from Satmar, and because of that, the choice to publish this book strikes me as choice in the infancy to childhood stage of religious transition. It feels as if Feldman forgot not to send that angry letter we write, and then put in our desk drawer, and wait a week to send until our anger abates. The end of her book displays a picture of her, sitting on a bench, looking flirtatious, in pants, while smoking a cigarette….Freedom! Albeit, an empty looking one.
Besides the book itself, the publicity surrounding of the memoir is the type that makes me sad the way the insistence of a commercial makes me sad. Some of the publicity stunts, and some of what she says in interviews sound downright sensationalist and self aggrandizing. For example, the hyper-sexualized NY Post spread reeks somewhat of an antiquated idea that the antidote to the obsession with modesty displayed by Hasidic sects lies in the opposite choice of focusing even more on sexuality, which in the end of the day, still treats women as an objects. I feel no need to defend the Satmar community, and I don’t believe, necessarily, in the worry of airing dirty laundry. However, I feel that this book deserved a greater gestation period to mature. It bespeaks little understanding of the conceptual background from which she came, or of the life she chose as a replacement. Feldman writes from the early stage of religious transformations, a world in which her personal wisdom is something taken for granted, not earned.
For the most part I choose to assume that her publicist desired to create a public persona of Feldman as some kind of forward thinking, independent woman/sex symbol because otherwise, I don’t know how to spin a desire to see oneself as Kardashian-esque as sophisticated, or forward thinking. In fact some of the NY Post interview smacks of a certain kind of childish understanding of freedom as the freedom to do whatever you want as opposed to the freedom to search for your own version of the good life.


  1. Um... you look a bit foolish. Jewcy has nothing to do with OTD. They're just a mainstream (albeit to the hip side) secular Jewish site.

    Maybe you meant Unpious.