Hasidic Jews in Brooklyn blast Deborah Feldman’s ‘Unorthodox’ memoir as pure fiction
Hasidic Jews in Brooklyn are raining righteous fury down on one of their own — a 25-year-old woman who left the faith and wrote a blockbuster tell-all.
Since publishing her memoir, “Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots" on Feb. 14, Deborah Feldman has lived every writers dream.
She’s been feted by Barbara Walters on “The View,” and the reviewers have declared her “eloquent” and her story of a loveless marriage “harrowing.”
The Satmar sect of Williamsburg, in which Feldman was born and raised, calls it something else: pure fiction.
Especially an account in Feldman’s book about a young teen who was slain by his father when he caught the boy masturbating.
As Feldman tells it, the dad sliced the boy’s penis off and let him bleed to death.
And then the Jewish ambulance service, the Hatzalah, helped cover up the crime, which took place in the upstate Hasidic enclave of Kiryas Joel, she writes.
The coroner’s report tells a different tale: he teen died from an injury to the carotid artery, suggesting suicide.
That claim is seconded by the New York State Police. Lt. Glenn Miner tells The Daily News the death “was determined to not be a homicide.”
Feldma and her publisher, Simon & Schuster, stood by the book.
“I can only be responsible for the things I write. I cannot be responsible for what reporters write. Misunderstandings, misinterpretations and just plain getting the facts wrong is common in journalism. But anything I sign my name to, I will stand by,” Feldman writes on her blog.
Other disputed facts include Feldman’s insistance that her mother “disappeared” when she was a toddler.
A neighbor, Pearl Engleman, says it’s a “flat-out lie” and court records show that Feldman’s mother, Shoshana Berkovic, was with her husband until 2003.
Feldman also claims she was not allowed access to secular literature and had to sneak books around like contraband.
Engleman remembers Berkovic routinely taking her daughter to the Williamsburg branch of the public library on Division Ave. In tow would be Feldman’s younger sister — who is completely absent from “Unorthodox.”
Feldman also goes on about the cruelty of her Williamsburg yeshiva, without mentioning she had been booted out of Bais Yaakov, a less strict Jewish school on the lower East Side.
A Simon & Schuster publicist said the house is “confident that ‘Unorthodox’ accurately presents her deeply personal recollections of [her] journey.”