Author of "Unorthodox" (S&S) and "Exodus" (Penguin 2014)
Booklist reviews Exodus!
In this follow-up to her New York Times–best-selling memoir Unorthodox (2012), Feldman positions herself as the quintessential wandering Jew. Exodus tells the story of Feldman’s journey of self-discovery, which takes her from the American South to the Jewish ghettos of Old World Europe. Along the way, Feldman both meets and is alienated by Jews and Gentiles alike, falls in and out of love with a redneck (complete with motorcycle and shotgun collections), travels across continental Europe, and visits the tiny Hungarian village where her ancestors were born, always trying to find her own sense of identity separate from the strict Hasidic sect in which she was raised. Feldman’s journey is undeniably and explicitly Jewish, but the aching need to find both a welcoming community and a sense of individuality is one that readers from all walks of life will be able to identify with. Those left unsatisfied with the abrupt ending to Unorthodox will enjoy the more hopeful conclusion to Feldman’s second book as well as her more mature and increasingly eloquent writing style.
— Rebecca Hayes, Booklist
Kirkus Reviews “Exodus” a memoir by Deborah Feldman
"One woman’s search to understand herself and her Jewish heritage.
Raised under the strict rules of a Satmar Hasidic Jewish community in Brooklyn, Feldman, author of Unorthodox (2012), had no clue how tightknit that community was when she decided to leave her marriage and a man she didn’t love with her young son and find a new life. “Leaving, to me felt like climbing a tremendous hill,” writes the author, “one of those steep inclines that becomes almost treacherous in that the more momentum you build while racing down it, the more difficult it becomes to stop safely.” She found herself an outcast from the Jewish system she’d been raised in and an outsider to the rest of the world, which often could not see beyond her apparent Jewish features. Unable to fathom life in hectic Brooklyn, Feldman pulled up stakes and moved to the countryside. Rich in details of Jewish life and the lives of her grandparents in the World War II era, the author sensitively portrays the inner struggles of accepting the pervasive feeling of survivor guilt and her own desires to understand the woman she was becoming. Feldman juxtaposes painfully emotional moments in concentration camps and in European towns where evidence of Jewish settlers was practically erased with humorous, almost macabre playacting scenarios with a German lover, scenarios that only added to Feldman’s confusion over her own identity. The overall effect is captivating, entertaining and informative, providing readers with an honest assessment of the strength of one’s convictions and the effect a strict religious background can have on a person.
An enthralling account of how one Orthodox Jewish woman turned her back on her religion and found genuineness and validity in her new life.”
The Jewish Daily Forward reported on the filming of a Blue Bloods episode this week, expressing surprise at the authenticity of the costumes worn by Hasidic characters. It definitely helps when you have the real thing orchestrating behind the scenes. This was one of the more enjoyable projects I’ve had the privilege of working on this winter.