Thursday, March 1, 2012

The NY Daily News: Unorthodox is a Novel and not a Memoir

I told you a couple of days ago that Deborah Feldman definitely didn't have the last laugh, and I'm happy to report that another respected newspaper, the NY Daily News, runs an article today, suggesting that Deborah Feldman is a liar and a fraud.

It's even more interesting that the News compares Deborah Feldman to James Frey, an American writer who was the subject of a big scandal when it was discovered that major elements of his so-called memoir were fabrications and lies.

In that case Oprah Winfrey, who at first believed that liar, invited him back to her show and confronted him why he had lied to her and her viewers. Oprah had the courage to admit that she was fooled by that person, who mostly lied about himself, not about other people.

For some reason I don't expect that the anti-religious Barbara Walters will do the same and publicly admit that she was duped by Deborah Feldman. I hope I'm wrong.

From the News article:

Most aspiring writers would murder to publish with the kind of publicity Feldman has received.

The problem is that much of her memoir may not be true, according to ardent critics. These include family members, neighbors and even New York State authorities.
In the book, Feldman charges her mother – who was apparently burdened by the pressures of Satmar life – with a “mysterious disappearance” when Feldman was a toddler.
In fact, it takes about 30 seconds to find Shoshana Berkovic on both Twitter and Facebook. She is a science teacher at New Utrecht High School and does not appear to have ever left Brooklyn. She did divorce her husband, as court records indicate. But that was in 2003, more than a decade after Feldman accuses her mother with leaving her behind. (Shoshana Berkovic / Facebook)

Feldman leaves out another relevant fact about her family – that she has a sister, now 17 and living with her mother. For reasons I cannot quite fathom, she entirely deletes her sister’s existence from what is supposed to be a truthful account of her life.

And while Feldman waxes poetic about how she had to sneak  secular literature (“Reading an English book is…a welcome mat put out for the devil”), neighbor Pearl Engleman distinctly remembers Berkovic taking both of her daughters to the public library on Fridays. “Flat-out lies” is what Engleman calls  Feldman’s description of her family life.

Feldman writes in great detail about her strict religious education in Williamsburg. But she fails to mention that she only attended the supposedly restrictive UTA for four years – and that only after being kicked out of a much more lax yeshiva in Manhattan, Bas Yaakov of the lower East Side. A cousin says that Feldman was expelled for making comments about sex.


  1. im definitely NOT taking credit for the news article but i DID email 2 daily news writers to check out your blog.

    but then again, who knows.......???

    1. It didn't hurt for sure. Thanks for your help.