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Unorthodox couple

‘Unorthodox’ author: My Hasidic ex-husband followed me to secular life

4 years after Deborah Feldman left Satmar sect, the man she married as a teen also exited the fold, thanked her for leading the way

'Unorthodox' author Deborah Feldman (Screen capture: YouTube)
'Unorthodox' author Deborah Feldman (Screen capture: YouTube)

The woman who authored a memoir of how she left her strict ultra-Orthodox life as a wife and mother in a Hasidic sect has revealed that her ex-husband later followed her in adopting a secular lifestyle.

Deborah Feldman, 33, whose book “Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots” was made this year into a Netflix series, said her former husband contacted her to say he too was no longer religious and thanked her for showing him the way.

Feldman, who lives in Berlin, told BBC Radio 5 Live that she has a “great relationship” with her ex-husband, who is now married to a secular woman. The interview, which dates to May, was recently made available online on the BBC website.

“A few years back he wrote me a lovely letter where he expressed his appreciation for everything I had done for our child, and his gratitude for setting him on his own path,” she said. Her husband wrote that he stopped being religious four years after their marriage ended when she left him.

In the following years, she and her former husband were able to establish a trust which was never possible during their marriage because “the community took it away from us,” she said.

Unorthodox by Deborah Feldman

“He has two further children and both my son and I have a very good relationship with him,” Feldman said.

Raised in the Hasidic Satmar community in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, Feldman was married at the age of 17 and gave birth two years later. She left her husband in 2010, taking their son with her.

“Unorthodox” was published in 2012.

The four-episode Netflix series based on it began streaming worldwide on March 26. It is the first Yiddish-language production ever to come out of Germany.

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