Exodus Revisited: My Unorthodox Journey to Berlin

Deborah Feldman

Plume (An Imprint of Penguin Random House)

“Exodus Revisited is a remarkable work that throws sharp light on prejudices within and outside the Jewish faith.”–Cindy Matthews, Authorlink®

Deborah Feldman’s upbringing in the Hasidic Satmar community in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn was at times warm and cozy, at others isolated and unsettling. She recorded her departure from that life in the book Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of my Hasidic RootsExodus Revisited follows on to describe her journey into a new life for herself and her son.

Being brought up in a fundamentalist community steeped in self-imposed isolation made it difficult for Feldman to deal with the world beyond Williamsburg. Divorcing her husband of an arranged marriage wasn’t easy since she had to abide by certain religious restrictions. Her divorce became final on the eve of Passover 2012, ironically freeing Feldman and her son at the time Jews celebrate gaining their freedom from Egyptian slavery.

After the success of her first book Feldman was able to travel widely and gradually come to terms with the way the world perceives her faith. Irony imposed itself again when a filming assignment in Israel revealed a country which bore more than a passing resemblance to the restricted life she’d left. Jews such as herself were looked upon as relics of the diaspora, a dying breed to be replaced by a new kind of Jew, one confident, unafraid, and even aggressive. The sense of isolation she felt in Israel was marked to the point Feldman couldn’t leave the country fast enough.

During a genealogical journey through Hungary, Austria, and Germany, Feldman encountered a disturbing history of persecution and modern incidents of anti-Jewish attitudes, both public and official. In Berlin she found her true home. The city which had once so persecuted Jews now offered a safe and vibrant place to live. Feldman discovered that authentic Jewishness does exist outside the Hasidic sect and found a way to make her faith more honest, compassionate, and real.

Exodus Revisited is a remarkable work that throws sharp light on prejudices within and outside the Jewish faith. Feldman’s open and honest account is a refreshing example of how people can overcome their backgrounds and the limitations imposed on them to live life to the fullest.