Deborah Feldman was born and raised in the Hasidic community of Williamsburg in Brooklyn, New York. She is the author of the New York Times Bestselling memoir, UNORTHODOX: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots (Simon and Schuster.) Currently, she is working on a follow-up memoir, which finds her embarking on independence as a single woman and mother, finding a new kind of Jewish life for herself, and discovering the far-flung yet familiar community of many like-minded "religious refugees" of all faiths around the world, due out from Blue Rider Press, Penguin, in October of 2013.
I would like to thank my uncle for sending me this letter because it came as a very timely reminder as to how lucky I am to have escaped the dysfunctional abusiveness of my hasidic family and culture. Read on to see what he wrote (spelling mistakes are his, not mine) and my brief response:
“Hi and a very good morning , it’s nice to hear from you. after such a long time. Did not know your where about. And was worried about you & especially your son.
It’s not my job neither is it my responsibility to tell you what you should do with your life & frankly speaking I really don’t care , whatever you do is fine with me.
In this bit of communication that I have had with you I came notice , that you are very unstable. You don’t know yourself what you are or better yet , you don’t know what you want to do in life.
It’s time for you settle down no matter what , but you have to settle down you have a child , now you are responsible to that child you can’t just pick yourself up go to California than turn around and come back. If you want to run around than give that child to someone else & do whatever you want .
I think it’s time for you to pay a visit to a psychotherapist & sort yourself out as you have very serious issues that you can’t come to terms with. Just don’t forget your issues are not Mine to resolve. Make no misstate & let me repeat I don’t care what path you choose in life. Its fine with me & wish you the best of luck .
You had a wonderful family that was very devoted to you & we all did more than our share, you have decided to throw it away & you yourself & only you destroyed it for no good reason at all. so don’t blame anyone except yourself.
We all pitched in , just to name a few Myself & my brother Valve paid in full for your wedding , you did not have to worry at all. while others struggle to pay for their wedding and are left with Hough debts after their wedding . There are many things that we all did for you & no we did not have too. & there are many more to list but it’s too long & Now is not the time.
However that being said you can’t act like a Moron and self destruct , let me repeat you are self destructing.
By the way just to mention a few of the moronic things that you have done & just go to your own website & please try to explain to me what you are trying to accomplish & let me repeat you could continue writing, posting & even giving interviews . but what the heck are you trying to accomplish & who the hell in this world cares about the little blimp called Williamsburg and they for sure don’t care about you at all just because you have decided to join their culture.
You want to join their wonderful culture go right ahead & you have my blessing & approval. No one is trying to stop you at all. but those dumb things on your website don’t even make sense at all. no one has any idea what you are trying to accomplish. Can you please explain , I can assure you it’s not going to help with your book sales , that is if your book ever makes it thru publishing as I am sure it’s dead on arrival.
In closing let me just say the path you choose is your own & the blame game is very childish. It never helped anyone by blaming someone else. We could all sit here & blame the whole world for our demise each & everyone of us. As we all have issues each & everyday.
It’s never too late to decide what you should do with your life , however you can’t self destruct & let me wish you the best of luck , all I can assure you get back to normal , we are all going to be here for you again & yes people change each & every day & that includes you .
Don’t forget at the end of the day if you are in trouble all those so called great friends of yours won’t even be there & only this family will be there for you. just think of these few words. Its only family that is there & it does not matter what you think of this family but they were all there for you & should you turn yourself around will be there once again. G-D forbid should ever be in trouble I don’t even doubt it for one minute that we will be the first ones to find out & yes we will be there for you in a blink of on eye.”
My dear Uncle,
my father’s brother,
Never in my life did anyone in YOUR family care anything about my well-being they just cared about themselves. I never asked you to pay for my wedding and I never asked to get married.
You just reminded me once again why I am so happy I left all of you behind. No matter how hard my life gets, it’s worth it when I think that I will never have to have anything to do with all of you again. I could be homeless on the street and it would still be better. The truth is, there are people in my life that are better than family, that give without agendas. And in the end I will be much happier that I am stable and successful without your help. Any sane person can see that ANY DAMAGE I have (which no psychiatrist can see for some strange reason because every single one that my grandfather dragged me to said I was normal) COMES FROM YOU, my FAMILY, and the CULTURE I was raised in. Only now that I am free can I truly hope to be happy in life.
THANK GOD, THANK GOD, that you wrote this email. THANK GOD I am reminded that I am free from the abusive bullshit and tyranny of your world. I have never been so joyful as I am today, to know that I have successfully escaped your abuse.