Thank you for your Unorthodox story!

Chaim writes: Dear Debora Feldman, author of Unorthodox,

I am a Satmar Chasid in Williamsburg Brooklyn NY, that wants to express my thanks and appreciation on your life’s work, first in your New York Times best seller book, Unorthodox, then on your second book, Exodus, your journey back to Berlin living among the Germans that killed our ancestors. And now in a wildly popular hit show on Netflix with the same name as your first book Unorthodox.

I would never have reached out to you if not the hypocritical evil people who tried to poke holes and dismiss your story, I know your father and knew your grandfather until he passed away earlier this year. Burich Dayan Haemes on your loss, may you know of no pain no more. He was indeed a great man! May his memory be of a blessing to all of us. Umein.

I want to apologize for my English, and for my writing, as I am a Yiddish speaking Hasid who is not a writer at all, but it bothers me how hypocrites make noise against your story, so I must defend you, many people are bcc’d here on this email thanking you for all you do to the betterment of our hasidic satmar society.

Thanks for the Gun detail.

The Jewish Daily Forward had many negative reviews, but one was from a hasid named Eli Spitser who said it’s a lie, no violence occurs in our satmar hasidic society. I must say it is true indeed there was a well known case of the head of the boro park shomrim, a satmar hasid, who was arrested for dealing with guns and facilitating licenses for many hasidic carriers he plead guilty and went to jail.

Your twist of the gun is so true, for suicide and threats, if not for actual homicides. Indeed suicides are aplenty in the community but you cannot talk about it here it’s hushed. – So thanks for telling it loud and clear when we silence it!

Thanks for reviving your mother

Our dogma says that only those who practice a strict religious lifestyle are alive. Only we are happy. Only we are good. All who go Off The Derech, off the path of Torah Jewishness are dead; are ill; are evil. – Thanks for undoing this injustice done to your mom. The community tried to kill her off, the unity stole her baby from her. The community told you a lie that she threw you away. But this film portrays the truth, that your mother is shining through in such a loving sensible fashion; for the first time I see somebody who left and is so alive. Not only did she not all die but she was reborn with so much more life.

Your mother left us here in misery, yet she is so normal and sweet not only OTD but a lesbian yet she handles Moishe and Yankey so smart and enssible. 2 opposite very hard to crack characters are dealt with so much tenderness and charisma that by the end of the story they are gone and sapped of all their hateful air.

The Eiruv narrative.

The Jewish daily Forward also had another negative review, from the former Kirays Joel jealous OTD activist, Frieda Vizel, about the “eiruv’’ She claims that you lied about us because you show how Williamsburg has an eiruv, while in satmar we were opposed to it. As if Satmar does not hold from the halacha made by the Rambam that we can carry on shabbes if there are strings on polls surrounding us. In fact it is a well accepted concept in satmar, in kiryas joel and in monsey they all use it, and in williamsburg most streets have a local eiruvin. The only eiruv that is controversial is the large over the whole town that we cannot see. But the Eiruv in your story we can clearly see the string, so it’s a local kosher street eiruv that everybody uses. So Vizel clearly lied to her secular Forward editors they should issue an apology but will never do it because they are apologists to evil.

Main character Shirah Hass is the best actor to play out your story.

The Forward also published a second article from the above joules OTD activist Frieda Vizel, complaining that Shira Hass doesn’t smile enough, that we are not so serious all the time.

Now you smile enough but this show is only 4 hours of your life. To tell the story of Unorthodox which is a sad story, we need the resolve of Shira Haas to tell such an Unorthodox story as yours. You are a hero; nobody who went OTD made it so good. This requires a character made of steel! You were a teacher in Satmar. You definitely smiled as well, but teh forward is not interested in the truth. They just need the clicks.

You don’t badmouth us, your family and former hasidic friends, at all.

The mother in law, your ‘shviger’, and the aunt, your ‘mime’, are so cliched, how can the Jewish Forward claim it to be untrue? As it’s true even by them secular people. It’s only inflated by is old fashioned hasidim a million times.

Your father is way worse in real life than in the film, he is the town’s clown. You only did justice to him when he would die, he will be remembered as better than real life, thanks to you. Even your ex husband is painted in a very good light. He comes off very beautiful in the end.

The Forward printed a critic that hasidim don’t gamble thus you lied. Which is a blatant lie of the secular forward again, as one can always find hasidim in Atlantic city, yes true, it’s because we shine out at the slot machines with our awkward eyesore dress, but thinking what a tiny percentage we are to the broader populace, this means to say we are not immune to the vice of gambling. I would even argue, more so than other sins, because we are not trained in any profession to make a decent living, just hustling for a buck, like the latest other blockbuster mainstream movie from Adam Sandler. – In essence the forward just wants to silence you thanks for not obliging to their “It’s bad for the Jews’’ mantra!

Your Bobby is all our bobbies!

The grandma is so true of most of our grandmas who didn’t go to a Jewish school before the war. We all heard their dark secrets, recounted in their ancient hushed hurried tails, fast and silently, right before zeidy come home from shul, or one of the frum chnyokisha eniklech steps in., – Only we beloved smart grandkids, our bobbies trusts, thus shows us their affinity to talk out their most haunting demons from the old forgotten erased nostalgic times. Times. – that scene is so beautiful, so real and so human it brings out so many repressed warm but deeply sensitive feelings of hasidim.

Heartbreaking control throwing out of simches and cutting off kids from parents.

The scene where your aunt throws out your mother from your wedding is happening every day here by hasidim. There was a clip of the footsteps organization board member Shulem Deen, where he is breathtakingly driven out from his kid’s wedding. He is a man so he does not leave so easily he fights back, but he is no match against the gruff hasdim who ask him why do you disturb your own kid’s wedding?… As if that stranger has more feelings for deen’s child than Shulem himself…

Moshe the ‘vaad hatznies’ character is every OTD person in the beginning stages.

The community controls us by abusing us with guilt that we sinned, thus we owe to the community back more than our peers; we are in the red… That is how everybody is kept in the fold, that if one strays only one inch from of the right path, he or she breaks only one of the millions of rules, that guilt is channeled by us sinners, to lash out and do something for god to get even with the creator so to speak. So as more sins we do we are more gruesome to kill maim and inflict more pain on other humans, to appease our collective god.

The scene where Mosihe jumps into the mikvah butt naked like Adam before the original sin, and screams ta’ateh, father in heaven, depicts an anguished cry of so much guilt. This is exactly how the rabbis recruit all vaad hatsnies, modesty activists, aka jihadis, to hit and beat up others, who sin much less than him or her…

Frieda Vizel’s negative motives

Even though she is OTD, she left the satmar hasidic lifestyle behind, around the same time as you. She is a well known contrarian, that has written in Tablet Jewish web-zine, that makes hasidic child education neglect, only worse…

Vizel has a business of taking around tourists in hasidic williamsburg. While she cries in the Jewish Daily Forward that your Unorthodox dehumanizes hasidim. – She herself makes a living dehumanizing Hasidim. As if we are a relic in a museum. Not human beings who can speak and explain our lives, for ourselves, but must have somebody who has left us behind to speak in our name. I don’t begrudge her for it. I hope she makes lots of money. But the sheer hypocrisy here, screams to high heaven!

While she has every right to besmirch you personally; After all it’s a free country, especially now with Trump as leader of the free world, where all opinions we don’t like are automatically “fake”. But when secular people like Naomi Ziedman and the Jewish Daily Forward quote her without stating her obviously biased motives, they are wrong.

Vizel writes openly on her blog that she hates you for many decades now, that she was actively involved in helping your ex emotionally and mentaly, when you divorced. That she went to the same Sara Lawrence university, and you were both neighbors at the time. – Nobody gives this context when quoting blindly her critical tirades verbatim. That she is personally invested against everything that comes out from you, it’s modis aprendi to bad mouth you. Instead, they quote her as a truthful authority on hasidim more than you.

Thanks for your great contribution to our Yiddish heritage, language, and culture.

Unorthodox is an historic major blockbuster film, played out mostly in our Yiddish language, in a culture of a holy spiritual people, without any country, without any materialistic land. Moshe and the rabbi actors are themselves native Yiddish speakers. But even the main other actors like Shirah Haas and Yankey, learned to speak an entire new language for them, considering this is not an easy task, it’s truly amazing how close to real they speak Yiddish.

Why am I writing this?

As the editor-in -chief of the Jewish Daily Forward, Mrs, Jodi Rudoren, was asked if Hasidim watched it and what their opinion is of it. But Hasidim do not watch movies openly, due to the sexual and critical scenes. Those OTD’s who do watch movies are just jealous at the smashing success of Unorthodox, so they will only mock it, as they have no real interest that their former hasidic society should change after they already left it.

They are my motive for writing this thankful review to you, I would have never taken the effort to do it, if not for their repulsive and repugnant motives and false negative actions, only to set the record straight.

Unorthodox is indeed an honest truthful, to the minutest detailed depiction of our hasidic lives, and it only makes us behave better, seeing that the world knows our shortcomings. True, not everybody has such a mother in law, or such a father, no 2 stories of 2 humans are %100 alike, but by and large, you got it right that by us hasidim the parent who has the money, has the smarts, power and whereabouts to play it holier, and the community takes their side, to rip away the kids from the other parent. And the kid is brainwashed that the losing parent of the custody battle is a crazy OTD person that forsook their own kid.

The community will surely change for the better

That is why I want to thank you together with the producers, actors, writers , consultants, and mainly Hashem, the G-d almighty, that gave you energy, talent and stamina to pull through this effort to deliver Unorthodox to millions of people. Yes the vested powers like the daily Jewish Forward are kicking and screaming that it’s a lie, like for instance, Eli Spitser writes in the Jewish Daily Forward that we do not have sex with the night gowns and Tzitizs on, which is just a lie. Because he hates to see our vices and sins on the big screen, our dirty laundry washed for the world. But we will think twice before the next custody battle to help one parent because he or she is more connected to the powers in the community.

The Jewish Daily Forward thinks hasidim will love them if they keep on printing those lies against you. I guess they are so low they have nothing to lose, they cannot fall deeper into oblivion.

Unorthodox is better than One Of Us.

There was a heartbreaking documentary of how the hasidic community treats apart it’s outcasts, how we rip mothers from children, based on a true story of another Satmar mother, Etty Ausch who loses her 4 kids robbed from the mother, for the Jewish God, more heartbreaking than Unorthodox which only one child is kidnapped from her mom for the Jewish God. But still I would argue that Unorthodox is more powerful to captivate the minds; mainly because it is told from the innocent kid’s character, you are played by baby faced, Shirah Hass. So the viewer sees the story through a child’s mind. Not the other way around, from the mom’s perspective like the documentary One Of Us. An adult’s pain is somehow less captivating than a child’s pain. I am not a psychologist to know why, but a child is so beautiful, so innocent, so wholesome. That the viewer is more captivated by their feelings.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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