Unorthodox: 10 Facts About The Inspiration Behind The Show, Deborah Feldman – Screen Rant

Posted By on June 8, 2020

Ten things fans of the Unorthodox Netflix docu-series may not have known about Deborah Feldman, the author behind the novel on which it's based.

Netflix's mesmerizing new miniseries,Unorthodox,is inspired by the bookUnorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of my Hasidic Roots.It is a memoir that details the struggles that Deborah Feldman endured as she separated herself from her Orthodox Jewish community in Williamsburg, New York. While the Netflix show is not entirely faithful to its source material, Deborah Feldman's life isjust as interesting as those of Esther "Esty" Shapiro, the character who represents her inUnorthodox.

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Thoughthere are similarities between Esther Shapiro and Deborah Feldman, Feldman's battleslasted longer, and her story continues to this day. As a successful 33-year-oldauthor, many more things will be written about and by Ms. Feldman before she calls it quits, for she is a true trailblazer and inspirational figure. Here are 10 interesting facts about the life of Deborah Feldman.

As per the guidelines of her community, Deborah Feldman did not have access to a typical education. She could not go to the library, and what she was taught was limited in terms of range of ideas. Feldman had an unquenchable curiosity and thirst for knowledge, though. She would hide the books that she did manage to collect underneath her bed, knowing that they would be confiscated if people in her community found out that she was learning too much about the outside world.

Feldman had a son at the age of 19. She credits this as being the moment she was forced into action, as she didn't want her son living in the same community she was raised in. Feldman convinced her husband to allow her to studybusiness at Saint Lawrence College in New York to help with their financial situation. However, she was actually studying literature, which helped her become the best-sellingyoung author she is today.

One would think that, with everything Deborah Feldman has gone through, she would now reject Judaism as a whole. This is not the case. While she has severed all ties with her community in Brooklyn, she is still proud of her Jewish heritage. She credits much of the traits that have made her so successful to her heritage, including her undying resolve.

Deborah Feldman finally fled her community in 2009 at the age of 23, leaving her husband with their youngson. Unlike inUnorthodox,she did not immediately move to Berlin.

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Instead, she and her sonlived with a few different friends in New York, plotting out how she could successfully pull off this escape without losing custody of her son. She consulted multipleattorneys during this process.

There were several motives behind Deborah Feldman'sbold move to escape her husband andher community with her son. The final straw, however, was a brutal car accident she suffered. She nearly died, and the near-death experience made her realize that she could no longer stand wasting her life away in her loveless marriage while abiding by such restrictive rules. Life is fragile, and she was determined to make the most of it.

Her first novel, detailing her upbringingand eventual escapefrom her Orthodoxcommunity, thrust Deborah Feldman into the public eye. She released a second book in 2014, entitledExodus: A Memoir.This novel regales what shehas gone through since she broke free of her repressive past, including being a single parent, developing herself as a writer, and connecting with some of her older Jewish roots.

Deborah Feldman did eventually move to Germany, it just wasn't immediately following her separation from Hasidic Judaism, as Esther Shapiro did. She moved to Berlin with her son in 2014, to the inner-cityNeuklln district. This area of Berlin is heavily-populated and has recently become known for its artistic inhabitants, many of whom have migrated from other countries, just as Deborah Feldman did. It seems like the perfect place for her to make her home.

In the Netflix series, Esther Shapiro's father is not an active parent due to his alcoholism. Deborah Feldman's father also did not play a big role in her upbringing, though it was due to mental illness. He was unable to care for her, his wife, or himself much of the time, which is also part of the reason Feldman's mother separated from theirarranged marriage.

Deborah Feldman has no way of knowing how her community reacted to her separation from their faith, but she predicts that they were not shocked. Feldman was always unique compared to the other Hasidic residents of Williamsburg. Much like Esther Shapiro warning Yakov "Yanky" Shapirothat she was "not like the other girls," Feldman told her husband that she had opinions and practices that he might not agree with.

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Her Hasidic friends and family members acknowledged this much about her since her childhood. Her grandfather, or her zeidy, even predicted that she would one day give in to these temptations. He was right.

Many of the rules in Hasidic Jewish communities like the one Feldman grew up in do not take safety seriously. Her people's faith in God makes them convinced that they are always in his hands, meaning he would protect themand that safety precautions created by humans were unnecessary. As such, she received little medical attention during her childhood and did not wear a seatbelt while in a car, even while riding in the front seat.

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Sheehan Planas-Arteaga is a writer based out of Miami, FL. He attended Barry University, majoring in English and playing for the school's baseball team. Sheehan was drafted by the Seattle Mariners in the 2014 MLB Draft, which led to him playing professional baseball for four years. He enjoys reading, dominating in fantasy sports, music, and movies. His favorite color is green.

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