On Unorthodox: The Hasidim Are Not An Anomaly

Not long ago, I saw a young woman in hasidic garb on the plaza outside Lincoln Center. She was sitting at the top of the steps with a cup and a cardboard sign, her long skirt spread around her. I wasn’t surprised—young people are leaving hasidic communities in a steady stream, and those who leave often lose their support system, with little or no education or skills. She wore a look of abject shame. Or perhaps it was despair, her eyes trained on the ground.  

I pictured her as I watched the recent Netflix series Unorthodox. In an accompanying documentary, director Maria Schrader said that television is “aspirational.” Aspirational stories have a simple shape—the heroine escapes a monster and finds her way to freedom. At the end of Unorthodox, the heroine, Esty, fingers a compass given her as a gift and smiles.

One comment on “On Unorthodox: The Hasidim Are Not An Anomaly

  1. Heidi Schloss on

    A wonderful article! I would also recommend watching One of Us, a documentary about 3 people trying to leave the community & what they go through.
    I am not Chasid or even Orthodox. It was a long process for me, raised reform, with an atheist father, to Reconstructist, where women have equal rights & Tikkun Olam is Social Justice. Now I belong to an unaffiliated shul, with a Recon female Rabbi & a large proportion of LGBTQ members. However, I live in my grandparents’ house in a neighborhood rapidly increasingly “frum”. I have some friends in the community, mostly seniors, & I see how insulated they are. It is frustrating these days of COVID to diligently wear my mask, while they do not. I could go on. Sigh…

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