Arnon Grunberg meets Deborah Feldman

Arnon Grunberg meets Deborah Feldman

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[Music] [Applause] and you - good evening ladies and gentlemen on behalf of Julie objects the managing director of the ballet I welcome you to this event and silly school that meets tonight I'm meeting demo our salesmen it was not announced on the side of the body but obviously the discussion is going to be in English before I introduce Deborah I will tell you short something about what you can expect tonight I will talk with a laugh
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about one hour one hour 20 minutes after that you can ask questions through the Q&A animal hand will be working around the mic and for those of you who have been here before please ask questions no statements no monologues no anecdotes for your lives this if you want to share these things at the way you can do it afterwards in the cafe Deborah I will say something about you to inform the public those of those people in public who don't know you they were Feldman was
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born and raised in the Hasidic community of sub Meyer in Williamsburg Brooklyn her marriage was arranged at the age of 17 and a son was born two years later at the age of 25 she published the New York Times best-selling memoir and also works the scandalous rejection of my Hasidic roots and three years later she followed up with Exodus a memoir of post religious alienation and identity work has been translated into Hebrew and German and currently she's working in
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two medians film and writing she's most interested in exploring the intersection between globalization religion and identity there were lives in Berlin Germany with a 10-year old song 11 I know but this all coming from your website so I guess you agree that that I just said and also has to inform you that in one week there were also published in Germany a new book uber bitten which is the first book what that was published that is being published in with in German and I
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thought that it was written by you in German but you collaborated closely with a translator right that's yeah okay I'd like to focus on unorthodox also because over dinner you told me that Exodus your second book was you're not completely happy with the English version of this book but we will talk about it a bit so I'll go through the book and I hope then we can discuss all the important matters of your work and of things that I of
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interest to the two of us one more we might be met in in November in the United Conference on Jewish identity where we are sitting on stage together I didn't know there were at that time and during the discussion I said well the I'm very glad and very that I I don't look Jewish at all so I can pass on for it is exactly what happened were for just a white man becauseum and then there were said well in Vienna the
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people didn't laugh but there were said he just didn't know I didn't know but then there were you said come on you look almost like a yeshiva boy you remember sitting and then the people started laughing and I still disagree with them well I still believe but maybe just my naivety that I can pass on a solution cannot cure it but we can do it okay on the first pages of unorthodox you either if come in silently please shame is all I can recall of my feelings for
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my father when I knew him he was always shabby and dirty and his behavior was childlike and inappropriate since shame is from is so much connected to Jewish identity I found it interesting that for you is connected to your father much more than to being Jewish yes I did not experience shame connection to being Jewish when I was in my community this comes much later because in the community it's the
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ultimate normally if the ultimate factor or attribute that binds you to your family and to your neighbors but of course what made me different was that my father was mentally [ __ ] and this I was ashamed of I was ashamed of the things that made me different in this world that is very different in its own way but within its very conformist and when exactly was the moment when you selfish aimed of being Jewish if you
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ever felt this way have you I would say that when I left my community in the beginning I tried to do something that is called in America passing which is what people with white skin in America can do they can try to put on americanist like a costume and hide anything about them that makes them different and that's what the melting pot is the melting pot allows you to to become American and in that sense for the first few years I did not advertise being Jewish I did not bring it up and
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people did not ask the question or assume because in the States it is largely difficult for Americans to figure out what attributes would identify you as Jewish in Europe it's not difficult in Europe everybody asked me if I was Jewish but in America many of the women I met in university would say to me when they found out that I was Jewish that they had never met any before or at least they thought they hadn't because no one had ever mentioned it in their presence to get one thing clear you go up in New York but you
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didn't indentify us an American even though no I did not receive an American education I did not speak the language I did not grow up with any of the American cultural values I didn't grow up with television or radio or newspapers the way that normally culture seeps in so when I left my community was like being in a strange country speaking a strange language and everything was new and I knew that on paper I was an American I had the right documents but I could not connect to the culture of the identity yet Assoc first issue first language in
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mother tongue so when did you start to speak English in college because I was reading secretly as a child and sneaking into libraries to read books and this is how I picked up my vocabulary but when I arrived with University I had a very thick accent and I was pronouncing the words improperly because I had only ever read them I had never heard them so the first thing that happened to me was I took my first class and the professor says where are you from your accent is so heavy and I was so humiliated that I didn't talk for the rest of the class and ice instead I would listen to other
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people speak and I would try to copy them and I learned to copy any American accent I would speak like the Texan spoke when I was next to them but then like the ones from Chicago when I was around them I would just pare it back the way other people talked to pick up accents easily I do pick up accents easily but I cannot do it that one in very very modest but I was asking because now you live in Berlin and your German is is I afraid you talk German it's almost it without an accent so do you do people ask you I from Berlin in Germany or people and me go to Bavaria
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do you become a Bavarian um in your language I think I tend to like let's sometimes local accent color in my class but I worked really hard to blend in and sound neutral the way I did in America because it's important I think to my sense of survival to sound neutral but I have noticed in the past year that people do not no longer ask me where I'm from they assume I'm from somewhere within the country they don't know exactly where but they assume that I am educated enough and have travelled enough to make my hostage more neutral
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but I reckon I see us in German they don't recognize me as non German I think that's more important and I don't ask you whether you are Jewish enough sometimes they do sometimes they don't it depends on the circumstances you come back to that later you mentioned books already on page 20 year old I don't have a library card so I can tell it take books home with me I wish that I could because I feel so extraordinarily happy and free and I like that I'm convinced it could make everything else in my life bearable if
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only I could have books all the time if I feel very fit you still believe this yes I mean I still feel that my life is centered around books and reading and when I'm having difficulties like emotionally or psychologically I tend to withdraw and and do a lot of reading and this brings a familiarity the way sometimes maybe some people like to eat food from that remind them of the childhood or or spend time in places that they remember from their childhood and I remember being lost in books and so when I lose myself again I go back to
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this familiarity and the security of what it is to be a child but books are forbidden at least this book here and almost even even even reading at a little forbidden yes for a girl for girl yeah I am when I will be older do all people in audience know what remote is other people who I see a lot of nodding heads but no in country space it's not it's not nothing to be ashamed of if you don't know what her motives but please say so please explain briefly what's
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optimal and so the tradition of Judaism has always been passed down through texts and not just biblical texts but also handwritten commentary on the Bible and there is a collection of commentary on the Bible written by rabbis in the early diaspora and they have been published in many many many volumes many volumes we are talking about a bookcase full of books written by these rabbis and each volume has its own title and has its own special subjects and this is called the tongue wood and it's today is
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still studied by Orthodox Jews so it involves men sitting at a table reading the paragraph discussing them memorizing them reading the different opinions from later rabbis pulling out another book from the bookcase that has been published recently by rabbi comment commentating on the commentary that's commenting on the commentary it's a long tradition of discussion and debate that is documented it is however forbidden to women in your community and there is a reason they explain that I completed later also ok and also then I said before the civil have called me achievable for those of
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you who don't know you see the book receivable is somebody studying tumult and Mishnah all day long and that's why I didn't call fail because they never see the Sun never thank you thank you yeah you're so kind to me I'm kind of us you actually I know I know we like each other so you you we give away so I went down and now I'd like to quote bits about your grandmother was extremely important figure in your lives
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boobie she's called still after multiple appeals boobie finally capitulate sand takes a laser to ass she always tells me the shaving you think was such a big deal not a big deal at all I got used to it so fast and honestly it's so much more comfortable especially in the summer it was nothing in the end she says sometimes it sounds like she is trying to convince herself and not just me why didn't ever decides that women have to shave their heads I always ask if
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nobody did that in Europe would be hesitate for a moment before answering daddy tells me that Arab advances to be more early more devout than any Jew ever was he says that if we go to extreme lengths to make God - out of us it will never hurt us again like he did in a war so the the Satmar community didn't shave their heads at least the female the women in Europe and then suddenly you grandmother was forced to shave her head
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first and India for the second time but oh this statement that's that's that that if if you are devout enough there will be not another Holocaust there will not be no more if there is a really very easy logic behind that and which is that the Jews believe that they are an exile they lost their temple twice because of sin and when the second temple was destroyed and they went into exile they swore an oath to God and they said we
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will accept our exile we will not take up arms and go back to the land ourselves we will not try to build our next temple we will wait and accept our exile and not try to rebel against these authorities because we need to work off the sins of our past and earn enough to deserve an eternal third temple that will never be destroyed and when they made this promise this is a in Judaism you're not allowed to swear there were very rare
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occasions when you are permitted to swear and to break an oath has a punishment called in Hebrew and Yiddish cojes if this means to be cut off but it's a very specific kind of being cut off it describes cutting that of the thread between every soul and God God cuts the thread between himself and the soul the soul is lost forever and has no chance at redemption this is the punishment for breaking this oath and we know the story of Noah and
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the art Noah asked God please next time when you get very angry and you want to destroy the world can you send a warning first and then God promised to send warnings and so we regarded him yes he is a very kind man and in in Europe after the movement of Catholicism really took root and spread and we had at the same time these competing movements the Enlightenment the Haskalah in Hebrew and its dynamism and the Hasidic Jews perceived these movements as enormous threats because they were
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examples of going against this oath because the enlightened wanted to free themselves from exile by assimilating by throwing off the yoke of the Diaspora and of oppression that God had judged them to and the Zionists wanted to say we are not waiting around for the Messiah but we are going to go to Israel and take it back ourselves and the Satmar era in particular was already preaching in the early 20th century that the punishment for this is so big that
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God will send a warning before he will cut the thread and the warning will be like a pre apocalypse he warned of this already because if you look back at the pattern that we grew up learning about of pogroms and Crusades and the Inquisition all the ways in which the European Jews were persecuted as the rabbi believed that something like this would happen again and when he came to America after the war he explained that the Holocaust was a part of a pattern of warnings to Jews in the day Dora who were trying to free themselves
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from the day after more than that because you aren't here on page 25 assimilation my teacher OSS was the reason for the Holocaust we try to blend in and got palaces for betraying that's quite a statement yeah I mean we are one job is to be very loyal to our traditions and to remember where we come from who we are that we are always different I mean I want to come back to this explanation that my grandfather always gave me when I asked him why do we speak Yiddish because I didn't
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understand how it could be a holy language it was so similar to the language of the people who killed their families and my grandfather explained to me that it didn't matter where you dish came from what made it holy was that it was different from the language around us so he said the reason that the Jews were saved in Egypt and were three in Hebrew says Shem LeSean my bishop means a name language and clothing and he says at the time there were no Jews that
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didn't have a Jewish language or a Jewish way of dressing or Jewish names but they were different from the Egyptians it didn't matter what they were as long as they were different as long as they isolated themselves and so the community decided it didn't matter where the languages from as long as it wasn't the language of the Americans it didn't matter that the clothing was from 18th century Russia as long as it wasn't the clothing of the Americans and our names by the way were were German words I mean the names for women I'm thinking of my aunts Fieger Tulpa this means full the towel these are these are German
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words and these were our names these are not Jewish name I thought always the Sicilian spoke Yiddish because they didn't want to speak Hebrew that was considered a language that was too holy for daily use but you say delicious too isn't it because to prevent a simulation and the same goes for the clothes and the hats and everything in the wigs yes just create various clearance between the community and the outside world yeah I mean there is no lexicon for a language like the the Yiddish I grew up speaking there is no written down
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version of it it's not accessible it's highly censored it's been purified of all dirty words and words that are dangerous like love we didn't have a word for love you cannot talk dirty English no although they invented one word for am I allowed to say a curse word here yeah absolutely you can say anything they invented a word for a [ __ ] that is in Yiddish Henan and in German that just means to separate but if you can kind of create a visual maybe you can understand why that would be used as a dirty word that's the
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dirty word in giggler Henan Pirela to separate two separate interesting yeah did you did you ever believe that the Holocaust was a punishment for because it was the difference of people in your community taught you for the assimilation and for the Zionism for the misbehaviour I was really confused by all those messages that I heard as a child because I was trying to reconcile everything I was learning with the woman who was raising me my grandmother and I just thought to myself it cannot be that someone like my grandmother was punished
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like I didn't understand this concept of punishment because they always say God we are made in the image of God right so we are kind of examples like little mini examples of God and I used to look in the mirror and I would say I'm not evil I'm not angry I'm not desiring of punishing someone so it cannot be if I made in the image of God that he is also this way so when I was really young already I was kind of poking holes in all the series and I began to suspect that this ideology that I was surrounded by was a result of trauma that the
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people who are raising me and who were educating me was so traumatized by this collective event that this was their way of coping in a sense all they will realize this I would say like the age of bat mitzvah in virtually yeah I think whenever time I was 12 it had become clear enough to articulate but you couldn't talk about it no no there's something about survival skills that you write also about Ibuki EU grandfather
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also an important figure you knife comes from a legacy of oppression his ancestors lived in Eastern Europe for generations and doing programs that are not unlike the persecution during Hitler's reign I can't comprehend how a person who comes from so much pain and loss can perpetuate his own oppression in small ways zadie cages himself depriving himself of harmless joys and yet it seems the very deep activation fulfills him it's guilt that drives my grandparents to inflict
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continuous suffering upon themselves and upon their grandchildren if I may say so yes there is a lot of guilt involved in the act of surviving the Holocaust and both my grandparents did not understand why they survived and felt that they had an enormous responsibility that they had not deserved it and they struggled the rest of their lives to atone for the sin of surviving and they were prepared to sacrifice everything and I as a child growing up in that home and I came to
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believe at a very early age that any pain I experienced was not legitimate because it was not comparable to the pain of my grandparents and that I was somehow responsible to carry the legacy of their trauma maybe we should also explain why your mother was absent your father was already said a mentally ill he couldn't take care of you your mother left you when you were quite young she left the community and she fell in love with another woman my my yes my father was
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they say born mentally [ __ ] but the problem is in this community marriages of ultimate importance and everyone must marry and everyone must produce many children because this is how we build the community but also how we replace those we've lost and my father was the seventh of eleven children and when it came time to marry him off which happens quite young nobody wanted to give him their daughter so my family yeah my family had a major problem because they
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were siblings waiting for him and in this community we do not skip siblings we go in the order of chronological age so he had sex right away in order to make sure that nobody left out yes there is there's a very strict sense of order with everything and everyone marries young and if you have siblings that are close in ages and it's like Chuck Chuck you have the fur Muriel's of 18 year later the next one together the next one I mean it's just one after the other but you don't skip because there is a concern that if you do one one will lie around waiting
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forever so he had siblings that we're getting older and especially younger sisters and when you get past the age of 18 19 you really become like unfresh neat I mean it's just a very unattractive problem fairies laughs yeah and so they were really desperate and they realize it's not going to work in the community so their plan was to find a Jewish girl from a community far away that was maybe poor and disadvantaged and they would offer her money in an
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apartment and jewelry and to distract her with the things and they found my mother who was from a Yakuza family a German Jewish refugee family which already in my community is a very big stigma German Jews are in my community the lowest of the low because they are the wannabes they're the ones who wanted to assimilate who wanted to be better even lower than because also the Israeli Jews are quite low in your community No yeah well that finding a woman but they are still Jews still Jews and German Jews are criminals are halfway German
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over it's complicated they are called yeah cos and the language they speak is called Dyche malysh because it's a kind of Yiddish that sounds supposed to be fancier and so we used to make fun of them and say they speaking Dutch mutters because they really want to sound dodge but they are not you know what they're calling it being called Equis no yes of course I know why they're called the ecers because of the long jacket yeah yeah Christine Jacobson yes yeah you know and so when they found my mother it was already like okay they had to step way down and they they settled for a
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girl from a Yakuza family and she were parents for divorce and they were very poor and and they offered her 7 room apartment in Brooklyn and so such a prospect of such a prosperous and a comfortable future that I think any she was 17 she was of course delighted and did not meet my father until the wedding so it was only after the wedding that she realized that she's with a man whose mental age is that of a seven-year-old child and my mother was
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actually quite intelligent woman so I think this was really tragic for her and then add that to being in a foreign country completely alone having no friends and the whole family treating you as something of a charity case because they all know that they pawned their sick brother on her I mean it was really a disaster and I think from when I was a you know when she had me and this is some story that my family told me and I can't be sure but I think she had a very severe postpartum depression and then I was handed off to family members and then later she was already starting to sneak our to get jobs earned
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money and by the time I was entering the elementary religious school she had pretty much disappeared and I found out later that she had gone off to be with a woman that she had identified as lesbian and that in the community this was just a scandal piled upon the scandal of divorce piled upon the scandal of my father's mental health I mean there was so many scandals in the in the story of my parents marriage that I became a walking reminder of this my whole family would look at me and they would see the stain that that was seeping into all of their bloodlines and was horrible and I
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never understood as a child why everyone treated me with so much resentment because I had not done anything wrong and then later I would understand that I represented the failure of my parents that I was um this is proof proof of this slack is stained and then you've caused another scandal by leaving the community yes I did and you know what I have distant cousins that cannot get married because they're related to me I feel sorry but that's how it works and I cannot stay in the community to protect my cousin no that's a bit too much of
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you know you might also still be still in the community you have not left there's no greater curse than the curse of childlessness so basically you're they're both after men and as a woman to to have children chance but childhood you've never blamed on the man it's always the woman was only a woman can be infertile only a woman can be barren it's also of course a punishment right it is yeah it is know as nothing oh yes indeed oh yeah I mean we can discuss them
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essentially within your community witnesses something because I've seen as a punishment yeah so if you as a woman cannot produce children you had to deal with the fact that um perhaps this pointed to a spiritual flaw in yes look maybe the magnet comes to you yeah you didn't want to be I have sense I didn't know also this may be surprising to some people from outside the community that that you participated in page 56 in the anti-zionist March every
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year because you idea that the Satmar Weber I insisted that we had to take it upon ourselves to fight for the destruction of Israel even if it meant smothering ourselves for the cause siren ISM is a rebellion such as our history has never seen set away by the idea that it could bring out about our own Redemption from exile how preposterous faithful Jews wait for the Messiah well something's pointed out already but really was to point you to to to work for the destruction of the State of Israel I mean as a woman you
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cannot really do anything or just witness to what the men are doing but yes my grandfather always went to the parade and I went along and witness and I saw them burn the Israeli flag and I understood from a very young age what I explained earlier that we swore an oath and we had to live in exile for as long as God decided we had to and that the Zionists were risking our permanent destruction if they would take back Israel God would bring the apocalypse he will never ever save us so in a way I understood the logic you know I understood the spiritual logic behind it
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but also I had very little feelings because it Israel itself to me was so abstract we never went I didn't know anything about it and the Zionists to me were like far-off monsters in a children's fairy tale they weren't real I didn't know any better like the other Jewish people in New York for the like other they were demonstrations against to march or because it's quiet not that no no no we were just considered I guess like freaks I mean later I found out that we were considered freaks but at the time we
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we march because everybody can march in New York no matter how we think about New York breakfast and people looked at us like we were insane and then we went home and that was that when was the first time you realized that your community was seeing loss if you saw that perspective of the outside world like a community of weeks well I remember being a small child and sneaking into the library and I remember that the librarian had this look on her
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face when I came in like she knew what a big deal it was that I was there and the look was a mixture of pity and confusion and presumption and I felt so small when I saw that look in her face because I realized that moment I was being reduced to something that she was making assumptions that I was poor oppressed uneducated desperate for escape and and
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I think there was an assumption about my naivety and my my being like everyone else in my position because I wore the costume I wore the uniform I behaved that way I spoke the language so I remember that was my first experience and I had many experiences as a child where I would occasionally encounter normal citizens and I would see in their eyes and the way they looked at me how
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little individuality I was able to project so it was pretty clear just from those looks that I was being seen as a freak and later it became very important to me to to blend in to look like everyone else so that I wouldn't have to see that anymore and a lot of readers commented later how ironic it was that I couldn't that there was so much pressure to conform in my community but when I left I wanted to conform first to americanist because I wanted to be
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spared to be like everybody else yeah I didn't want to be looked at but basically all the information you got the outside world was based on the books you your work in secret yes in the beginning I read like children's fairy tales I guess you can say and I describe it that all of them involved usually underprivileged or oppressed children and there was always an happy ending for them and so I thought that's me I will also have happy ending I thought Cinderella gets a prince and Alice in
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Wonderland falls through a hole so I was just waiting actually for something magical to happen to me that's fast these children you write that that a dream of all the children in this community well as the proudest but more does every child dream of them to grow up to be a rabbi or at least a rabbis wife is so even you were reading you know reading all those books it was still your dream to become a rabbis life well it was like the only option like from all the options I had that would have been the best obviously because it guarantees you status and respect and
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that's like the most valuable thing you can have in that world I didn't acknowledge that it was possible for me to live outside the realm of those options because it just didn't seem feasible how would I accomplish that this is the only word I know and only place I belong the thought of escape yet up close do you mind yes did not come nice now we go to your marriage quite young you skip a few pages in order to have enough time
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for the other subjects this about how you met your your husband Eli mmm-hmm we set a date in August seven months from now I vote I won't see him more than once or twice until the wedding and daddy doesn't approve of a custom and color talking on the phone I say goodbye after everyone leaves and try to impress this face on my mind because it's all the one thing about him I know for certain but the image fades quickly and two weeks later it's like I never met
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him well I mean you know what it's like to see someone for 30 minutes and then try to remember their face I mean it's difficult you need time during certain stages I couldn't remember the face of mine say you're too great seven months yes why is that well the fact that there's long engagement sir and the long engagement is time to prepare because you need to go to you need to first obviously accumulate trousseau which I hope the word is understandable it sure so is an old-fashioned word for what
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brides accumulate to prepare themselves for life as a housewife I guess so you have to buy everything to make a home but you also have to go to classes and two kinds of classes one is the the spiritual classes you take to learn how to be a submissive wife so you will learn the rules of how to engage in communication with your husband how to always submit how to flatter him all the things that you are obligated to do in your communication and then you go to a separate color teacher who teaches you
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the act of reproduction because it's a quite a big shop when your whole life is spent covering your body and ignoring it basically you are you didn't know each other vagina no you don't know because you don't have words for it and they still don't give you a word for it she called it she called my uterus macaw which means the source she was talking about the magic of fiction movie yes and then she tried to explain that to get to the source there is a whole way and a lot of metaphors and euphemisms and I still did not understand what she was saying and yes they choose after the
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teacher was correct she tried she's supposed to teach you how to use your body to reproduce but until now your body was such an evil thing so I think it comes as a shock to many young women that what they had to hide and what they had to treat with disgust for so long suddenly becomes very holy and special and must be used in a very spiritual way and this is very good you were seventy years yes you never masturbate if you never before that there's no wave mm-hmm there I mean I really I can look back at
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my seventeen year old self and I can say with absolute clarity that I had absolutely no sexuality that it's completely stamped out of you that's a bit late to come in you mean sexuality both though about the equal of qalaat Isha colossal calamities can exploit economically you right about the collapse of influence you about the pure and the less cured periods and they
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you and impure impure to must be impure yes Russell euphemism men only want what I can't have she explains to me they need a consistent pattern of denial and release I don't know if I like thinking of myself that way as an object as an object made available and then unavailable for men to enjoy yes that's still true that's good food yes like that but that's the maybe we can talk a bit briefly briefly about going to the mikvah and explain what's my client at this that for two weeks a
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man cannot have kind of touched his wife yes sir so she basically explained that the rules of marital purity are there called the rules of Nita Nita is a Hebrew word that translates into kicked aside and it describes a woman in her impure phase which is initiated by the occurrence of menstruation and then lasts until the moment where she is able to purify herself and this is a process of purification which involves waiting from
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inspiration to stop then seven days of twice daily inspections to ascertain that there is absolutely no more bleeding expression of the world no inspection of the vagina which are the underwear is a different problem or if the underwear has any kind of strange stain or color you have to wear white underwear then you must take it to the rabbi and he will tell you if the stain is all right or not yes it's true exactly the male weber is looking at you on the where yes there is even a special
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window where you can live drama where no you just push it through and then he pushes it back interesting do you think he's sniffing also secretly I don't know I'm sure there are some who sniffs I heard that your bed got snakes the other day in my bed cops lives exactly yes just another thing yeah so after this inspection of seven days twice a day if everything goes well and no suspicious stains were pronounced uncolored by the rabbi then you are allowed to go to the ritual bath which is called the mikveh the women's mixer is not like the men's mix it's
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very private you may only go in the evening under cover of dark and in this mixer you have to prepare your body and a very ritualized way for immersion in a mixture of rain water and spring water and you are supervised during this process and this is a way that the community always was able to police the bodies of women because they would then check if the hair was shaved they would check if the woman was getting pregnant often enough they would ask they would
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see how often the woman is mentioned there was a way of keeping tabs on every woman's reproductive life so in that sense you submitted for a kind of public policing every month and when this was done you were free for two weeks to reproduce which happens to be at the time that women ovulate because usually about 14 days to 12 to 14 days after an administration and after 2 weeks it would start again and during the period where you impure your husband was forbidden to touch she was forbidden to
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see any part of your body you could not hear you think he could not take a plate from your hands you couldn't sit on the same sofa as you so you really got the impression for too excited Amun that you are not desired that you are not valuable that you are doing and then for 2 weeks you are holy and you must be constantly available and this is a ping-pong pattern that is very difficult emotionally because you get used to being dirty and and valuable for 2 weeks and you say indulge I cannot say it in English when condom is clay how do you say this you just go through a really
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great yeah you were there and then and then right when you figure out a way to deal with it you are wholly again and you've got to figure out a way to get used to that and it's very very stressful extremely stressful let's go to the wedding night you describe it in our favorite part of the boat French you know know that were but it's a very funny and thankful part I think we cannot skip it that's important well for you of course not finally he folks I think in a white area and I lift up to meet him and wait for
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the obligatory first and that wasn't nothing happens he pushes and pushes grants for the efforts but nothing seems to give way and in fact I can't see what shoot what's expected to happen here after while he gives up and rolls over to one side he's back to me I lied there for a few moments being up at a dark ceiling before I turn to nudge him slightly I okay I ask yes I'm just very tired in murmurs soon I can hear snoring lightly i crawl into the other bed and
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lie awake for a long time wondering if it happened or even didn't and what implications of either possibility might be this is the favorite passage of all male reviewers by the way it's not my favorite person no but I think it important to it I mean this is it's so painful yes of course yeah but I mean you can see it in many ways yes it's painful it's all so ridiculous probably it's kind obviously in this moment I was just very confused and was not able to see the humor and I mean this turned
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into really quite a circus in the next few weeks because every day the rabbi's were consulted what counts as being deflowered and whatnot and am i impure because it's technically when you are diversion ated you are impure and they don't have a clear definition of what this means so we are coming back to actually quite American joke of of just the tip does this resonate it all in Holland just the tip just the tip do you get a joke I guess it does wrong buddy laughs so yeah it's this a concept that
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what constitutes having had sex how far along do you have to arrive so to speak for HIV part yes and so the the rabbi's almost resolve evening the rabbi's ended up deciding that that we had arrived at this line or at this point although I can promise you that that is not the case but but this was the first day was just a circus of figuring this out and then
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getting into this impurity impurity cycle and then each time and repeating the efforts and not getting anywhere what's the moment that you really loved your husband that you really felt connected to him I think the the community kind of does everything that they can to prevent this because they put you on opposing sides I mean in a way I was the enemy because I was the woman that couldn't perform it's not like we were a team and we both had to get this job done but he was resentful of me because he had gotten this partner
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that did not have a properly functioning body the way they had promised him and I was resentful of this person who had all these expectations and like I had to make myself available to him so the way that this is structured it kind of invites resentment and division in relationships instead of solidarity and teamwork you write about your body my body should be the one thing I can rely on instead it has become my worst enemy undermining my every effort that's
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true because my life would have been much easier if my body could have just performed its role and then you know intellectually as there would have been free but because I wasn't able to perform I suffered a lot of additional oppression and criticism in that time when was the time that you body cease to be your enemy you worst enemy I would say that giving birth was a big factor in this process and I would say that this was a long development that only
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really resolved itself in the moment where I felt in my emotional and psychological life that I had arrived and by this I mean that I consider leaving this community as the beginning of a long process of transition and during the transition process you are very rootless and at some point you pass through the transition process if you are lucky and you arrive at your new life in your new story and when this happened I noticed that
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everything else fell into sync you are actually about the day of the delivery that is the only moment in your your footing your five year marriage that you was ever fully alive yeah I mean in the only way that like you feel physically and I guess because you feel that as your senses are very alive and that you are feeling things in your body because I you grow up in this community and you learn to turn your body off you don't feel things anymore with it and the giving birth kind of pulls you back in but you describe your body almost before
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you got pregnant as a machine here's a passage about what you have to do in order to get pregnant and to and to survive that you disconnect from the body the first thing I must I must do you write the book says is obtained a plastic dial a circuit a series of long tubes of relying with to be inserted as practice the process can take months continuing until the very widest tube can be inserted comfortably the idea is to train the muscles of the vagina to lose them naturally but they didn't want
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to that's the thing you cannot train muscles that don't want to loosen no but you you did did you do it for months yes I did say that something very painful experience was very painful and very frustrating and very lonely and during this time my husband ended up having an affair because I was not able to prove myself and my family blamed me for this and blamed me for my failure and they threatened me with divorce and they said that if my husband left me I would be alone they wouldn't take me in I would be homeless and on the street and it was
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very very very horrible time yes I couldn't write about all this in the book to protect him and to protect the family but it was really bad did you are you still able to find comfort in reading at that time what if it was the no comfort at all it was no comfort in this time now a bit more about the practices of in such a community of sex as an obligation Friday nights the night is tonight Eli and I must have
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sex that's the night everyone has sex in the talmud that says the traveling merchant must have intercourse with his life once every six months a laborer three times a week but a Torah scholar has intercourse on Friday nights that's almost I have to laugh and I was reading it but what was because it's so absurd show me your pick it's a word to you to all of you because you think of sex as something that you do on your own initiative for your own pleasure but in this community of sex is seen as
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a holy act that you do with the goal of producing children the reason why a traveling merchant only has to have sex every six months is because it's understood that he is traveling and being a merchant but he still has an obligation to produce children therefore they're giving him a minimum of twice a year where he has to perform this duty the the thing with a Torah scholar and why on Friday night is because Friday night is the holy night a Torah scholar must have holy children so this is his obligation everyone has in their own way they're owning up their own obligations and this is completely rationale for
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someone in my community because this is exactly what sex is it's a duty because you're there to have children yes akley have sex on Shabbat after lunch so that's already not holy enough during the day you cannot do a girl there very strict rules this is your favorite part isn't it no no this is what you want to meet you one would like to turn into a cliche no actually and you know my my sister's living a life that she's not a Hasidic community but some very Orthodox communities and very much aware of the
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fact that it'll be fighting I would know should i why not he is already promised enough in my own books I mean then you write about basically you exit I don't want to be a receipt anymore I announce suddenly after we leave the shop well then she says that you you you you defend your friends you don't have to be YouTube you took a writing course and you realize that that you really want to step out stop halfway completely a clean
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break yes I went to university I began to study and I met people and I realized I want to be like them I want to be as free as them and I just didn't know how I mean she said to me yes and don't be one but I then I said but how I don't understand I needed to to free myself and to have a life on the outside how many things needed to fall into place I needed to first achieve some kind of independence by which I mean I needed to understand things like how to open a bank account and how to pay bills which I was not trained to do and I needed a
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way to support myself I needed to find a place to live and then I needed to ensure that my community will not come after me that they were not try to hurt me that they were not trying to kidnap a child how will I get custody of my son this had never been done before and I was not going to leave my son behind because he was the whole reason why I had embarked upon all these efforts to to see the outside world I wanted that he should not grow up the way I did basically that's the one of the main reasons he left the community yes for your son yes because your I think for many people who want to leave your own self-worth is too damaged to
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believe that you have deserved to take this kind of step for yourself but when you have a child it's very easy to see a baby as completely innocent and deserving of everything I mean it's every mother's instinctive thing so it was simpler in a way to concentrate on everything for his sake but you also added another reason to leave is that you didn't come to be ashamed of your true self as I was hiding for my whole life I had been hiding my secret identity the identity of the young woman
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who reads books and who questions and it does get very stressful especially when I went to university and I was developing more and more independent ideas and then coming back I remember when Obama was running for president I would be in college and be surrounded by the excitement of young people who were really really so enthusiastic about the prospect of first black president and then come home and have the people in my community talk about him as a monkey because he was black there was so much racism and narrow-mindedness where I was
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living and then I would have to compare it to this world that I was secretly visiting and the split between the two was so big I couldn't live in both worlds it became painful that's clear your second book Exodus basically this book is also about the disappointments of the of the Liberty you found outside the community but before we go we will talk about it a bit and then the open discussion to the public you over dinner you said that that you were really unhappy bye-bye with this edition and that's that some
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things are forced upon you by the editor or publisher I was 22 years old when I sold unorthodox on spec and I was no one I no one knew me and it was right at the point of the recession where publishers were not buying books and a very big publisher offered my agent a very subtle truce yeah a very strong contract for a book at the time when it was just very difficult and I was so young and even then the publisher said something like this is a very niche topic and we cannot
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expect people in the Midwest to to connect to this but maybe in New York and they took a big chance but they didn't expect anything to happen and my agent basically was so happy that she would manage to actually get the contract that she without even looking at the contract or advising me in any way she just said listen you are young you are no one this is the best you're going to get you need to just take it and I did and I wrote the manuscript and of course the first process the first time I wrote a book I mean I used to benefit the publisher and the publishers
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do exert a lot of power over the manuscript especially because I was so inexperienced in the ease and they made me even with unorthodox they made me add a lot of things that I wouldn't have added but that was still tolerable I think what really struck me was how they ended up selling me as a product when unorthodox suddenly got a lot of attention there was this feeling of I as a person or the integrity of my dignity didn't matter because what mattered was getting the book out there and for that you say in English I was pimped out and I think in the merciless way and I was
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at the time not experienced enough to understand the consequences of this but I did learn a lot from it and then you know when I signed my second contract with the same publisher but at a different house I thought I had learned enough to like keep certain rights that I hadn't managed to with that book but I did not understand that in this industry especially when you're already proved in your with one book and the publisher was determined to develop me into his personal brand like he decided who I was
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going to be common he said to me we're going to turn you into the next Lena Dunham and you're going to write a book about the American dream and my proposal for the second book had been nothing like that but he didn't care as soon as the contract was signed he was like this is what I want you to write about and when I said well but I had something completely else in mind yes but this is not going to sell and you need to trust me I've been in this business for a long time and I'm telling you this is going to sell and these are these are really powerful people who have the ability to make you feel very ignorant and very
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small and very defenseless and I was throughout the entire process of running that book under a lot of pressure to make it something that it shouldn't have been and I didn't want it to be and I had to not fabricate but I had to exaggerate certain events or interpret them and reflect on them in certain ways that you given a little of all deference I think there are there are moments in the book where I'm sort of trying to touch upon what they considered as
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popular themes in pop culture at the time and if you're thinking of Lena Dunham and we're talking about a confessional about sex confessional about the body but also like stuff about New Age or like New Age spirituality that they thought of would connect with an American audience so I was encouraged to explore topics or deficiency and to write about them in ways that would be considered like cool and hip and American but actually I'm not American nor am i cool or hip I mean I'm a lot like my grandmother I feel sometimes like an 80 year old woman from Hungary
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so it was a war in this book and I think that's evident a war between the things I wanted to write about the things they wanted me to write about and I think the book kind of goes back and forth between topics that are meaningful to me and topics that aren't and the book that I'm publishing in Germany in a month is in a way the book I will recall was in sorry in a month in a week it's the book that I always wanted to write that I was finally given the freedom to write by a smaller German publisher funny that you said you now live in German you will become a German citizen in a few weeks
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yes you'll talk about it later but first this is your relationship with Twitter I wish American man this struck me as something that was really important to you I think it was important to me in the sense that it was my first like you met him in New Orleans yes and when I first time you felt loved you can't say I fell in lust love yeah that's close enough yes but at the time of course you think it's love yeah because he didn't know any better no because I was under
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pressure to say that to present it as like a love story interesting is also the reason that your new book is not coming out yet in the u.s. only in Germany I am NOT publishing in English for as long as trumpets in the White House and when I do publish in English again I will be publishing with a British publisher a smaller house he's very popular okay but a part of the role
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play that was so upsetting it was even it was very interesting to me we go to the back of this book this is something that that that was not planted by your us publisher no not that something they were shocked by as well making it you traveled a few times to to Europe in order to extra also the backgrounds of your grandmother yeah you travel to Germany and you met a few German you met a German man whom you took a liking sure
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we want to leave this feather pen that's not that's not the same passage that you're discussing this is a no I know that there's another man but still this is someone I met in young New York but it's German man why do you want me to read it you did such a good job until now you feel uncomfortable no come on don't go wow it's so easy with you that's easier in what way it's easy at me and if you could you push me yeah hey it's the same way with you know if you
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you got have buttons I don't believe you you have many buttons maybe I don't know how to push them but that's another story what was the last thing you said tonight's race I had a buzzards I don't know I don't know how it was we got idea to roleplay it just happened give us German I was Jewish Vivian Williamsburg and scene two right moment for just such an experiment let's pretend it's 1939 you are Nazi and I'm a Jewish girl you found on the street and
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wouldn't you know it he just did that he stood up is large figure blocking the light from the street lamp and loomed over me like some cartoonish shadow the Amanda to see my papers with the straightest face I'd ever seen I serve it to as I withdrew and to myself in some strange otherworldly response he leaned closer more threateningly as if he were serious I proved my knees to my chest and wrap my arms around them as if I could roll into a ball looking up at
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his impenetrable in penetrable face I felt in xsplit inexplicably and powerfully targeted it was real like going back in time to some other dimension of possibility was this one that had felt like to some other girl who could have been me would she have seen someone fury and power so focused on her and shrink on thats case like a turtle withdrawing into its shell to meet was it reminded me a bit of the movie the night porter my Cavalli
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but it felt very natural to to engage in such a roleplay but at the same time I can imagine it to some people you explain it to me also over dinner that faded readings in the u.s. many Jewish people they're quite upset about these messages yes right because it it articulates the ultimate taboo that there is a sexual charge or even like a romantic attraction to to the forces of destruction but for me it's really very
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logical because I have struggled with the concept of being hated since I was a child because my grandparents always said to me that Jews are hated that everyone hates Jews and that the Germans are the worst and they hate us the most and was really fascinated by this idea because I thought how can someone already hate me I have not done anything and I wanted very much to explore this hatred I wanted to see it in another person's face and to see it up close and to see what it was like and it may be
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time to send it better and so I asked this person to fake it and but it didn't solve any thing for me didn't answer my question because if anything it made me realize how if the circumstances change then the person who is walking next you can be the person who is oppressing you and it began actually for me the a series of questions it was a moment it opened something in me where I said I must go off in search of this and I must
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understand it and I must confront it because I was fascinated by nothing so much as the negative energy focused on me by strangers I had never met and I had grown up believing that the whole world was full of this energy and so my desire was to go to the epicenter to go to Germany the place where that all come from and to look them in the face I did feel closest to feel threatened and excited excited because you are so close to the table you are so close to
01:00:24
the danger you know you are brave enough to go to the lion stand and look him in the face and there is something very exciting about that it's not only to give up your power not only to be in the position of submission but also to say I am doing this voluntarily and at any moment I can hold it over your head I can make you feel guilty for participating in the game because when that man stood up and and pretended because I asked him to at the end he felt dirty was that was that you goal was that what you wanted to achieve I think it's very complex I think it's a
01:00:55
too sited I think there is a goal to really reassure that you are fascinated by that you want to understand and at the same time knowing that by doing this by being in control by being the one who says do it that you are forcing the other person into a submissive role that's interesting because it certainly is quite a common fantasy because you'll write also about the front of your dominatrix in New York who has a lot of Hasidic see things they're all web eyes have city customers and many of them
01:01:26
want her to play a Nazi yes they want her to dress up in an SS uniform and beat them people from my community it's not surprising these are raised by Holocaust survivors and have never been allowed to process the trauma that they've inherited and it makes absolute sense when this trauma is a part of every aspect of your life that it also enters the realm of sexual and romantic urges do you believe that by moving to Berlin that you escape from your own
01:01:58
trauma I think it was the most important and critical step in the process because it created obviously physical distance between myself and my path very helpful I also was able to go to a city that is and has always been renowned for being a bastion for the worthless it's a city full of refugees in every sense of the word and it's a city where people who have no home or no identity or no chance of belonging anywhere can really find a permanent sense of belonging and so that
01:02:31
was a way I say in German see said but how isn't like - - - how is yourself spiritually to say this is your home and this is the frame in which you can develop so that was a huge step and I would say this is the step that led to the end of my transition phase and was a place a time where I felt I had arrived and I had begun living my life and I'd begun having a new story in new narratives and I think the process of working
01:03:02
through trauma is probably lifelong but I've made I've made enormous progress and I think the best thing that has happened to me is how aware I am of the trauma and how it functions and how it plays a role in my everyday life I'm able to constantly single out and say I know what you're doing and know where you come from so let's summarize this growing up in a very closed community misogynists community waste by Holocaust survivors you end the transition period by moving back to Germany and becoming a
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German yeah my community sees it of course as the ultimate revenge and as proof that I am the anti-semite and the Nazi that they always said I was when my book came out they compared me to Joseph Goebbels so for them this really fits perfectly I went to Germany to become a Nazi well yes but for me it's a lot about healing I mean I you know I have German side of my family and I was able to do research into the site as well and to discover that my my great-grandfather who who was on those bases I received the citizenship that he was not a hundred percent Jewish and this is the big
01:04:07
revelation of the book I'm publishing in German which is figuring out what I've suspected since I'm very young that I'm not hundred percent that the way my community was obsessed with that we are all handed percent and we are not mixed and and there is nothing else in us genetically except being Jewish and turns out that the big secret in my mother said the family was that her grandfather was the illegitimate child of a Catholic and that his mother had ran away from her community at a young age to live in sin with this man and
01:04:37
raise her son by herself and I cannot help but find a small mirror of myself in the story and he grew up completely assimilated and completely a part of Bavarian society and then when Hitler came to power he tried to Aryan eyes himself he tried to go to the German courts and say that on the basis of his father he should be seen as Aryan they tried to deny the Jewishness and himself this did not work I have the rejection letter that they gave him they accused
01:05:08
him of trying to poison the German race he was rejected he was deported he came back collected his wife and children and they fled on foot to England in England he completely erased his past he reinvents a new identity because he knew he had no hope of being accepted into the Jewish community if he was not a hundred percent the same obsession that the Nazis had with with racial purity was echoed in the Jewish communities and he did not want to be rejected there as well so he created a new father and his
01:05:39
father's name is not on his gravestone he's got a fake name for his father on his gravestone and I found this out recently so it was completely buried aren't you afraid of some Germans they'll say that you by moving to Berlin you were trying to poison the German ways again there are people who say this is of course there's some neo Nazis in Germany absolutely I mean I one thing that has struck me about being a public person in Germany is that whenever I'm criticized I'm not just criticized for my political views but for being a Jew that has these
01:06:10
political views so for being a woman also enough well they usually try to combine it so they'll call me like yudish Lancer something like this you don't but Jewish Slav yes exactly but it's so interesting like I'll go on a talk show and I'll talk about you know Trump and Clinton and I'm pretty left-wing in Germany although I had like a not a typical European approach to leftist views and I'll go and talk about something totally neutral that has nothing to do with my Jewishness but the criticism that will come from people who are critical it's always related to me being Jewish it's always about my nose
01:06:41
or about the fact that I'm being paid by Soros or in part of a like a world domination conspiracy it's never me as individual it's always oh she's Jewish and she's talking it must be she's part of this conspiracy I mean there's no there's no ability to accept Jewish people in public life it's it's very difficult I think if you're not a public person you can kind of ignore all that but it's it's certainly strange I've had to apply for something called in Alcantara which means that my address cannot be available to the public which
01:07:12
is a law in Germany because I got so many threats from people that I did not feel safe anywhere from the Jewish community was under HMDA name and from there from the right-wing community over dinner they were I you said that you didn't want to identify as a Jew anymore hmm which was to me quite a shocking statement because I always thought that after 45 the possibility of complete assimilation was an illusion and it was also like an obligation to identify especially ium let's so in New
01:07:43
York with especially in Europe to identify as a Jew so my question is it was not criticism but my question is how are you able very able to free yourself well I think it's exactly it's a sign of being free from the trauma because as soon as you're free from the obligation you freed yourself from the burden of the trauma of having to do right by it and for me leaving it was part of a process of freeing myself from from the inner and outer limits from the programming that I grew up with and I have always been able to especially in those moments when I'm reading and I
01:08:13
feel so connected to characters in the books or to authors I've always been able to see myself as a human being and I've always been able to see the commonalities between myself and other human beings so it's very frustrating to be stuck in the in this category where I don't feel that I belong in the category I feel that the qualities that can bind me to two humans in general are much stronger and more present than the ones that can bind me to Jews I mean no offense we have a lot in common but not more than anyone here in the audience right I totally agree I mean also you said that you described yourself as not
01:08:42
typically left-wing in the European sense of the world one reason is that you have little patience for identity politics that's true I believe that it is very counterproductive and damaging to society I mean I I go back to like Rousseau and the social contract I believe that society is something that we build it is not we cannot take it for granted it is not simply there and we all get to draw benefits without contributing I think it is a joint project and the joint project requires that we acknowledge our human identity
01:09:13
first and foremost and what we have in common and everything else is second and this is the only way we can build a functioning society we cannot I mean what they're doing in Germany for example is that they're doing the opposite of the melting pot everyone holds onto the identity to the point where they just cling to it desperately and without willingness to accept any else and then the society is completely divided up into separate chunks and it's not functioning and we have really stopped to focus on these lessons of the Enlightenment and of humanism which is
01:09:44
the idea that to live in a enlightened society free society to live in a free society we need to put our differences aside and emphasize what we share and we're doing the opposite how can you identify I mean I I'm oh how do we agree but how can you how are you able to identify as a human being when you get threats from neo-nazis they are being described as a um slump when the outside
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world is constantly reminding you of your Jewish existence of you not being a human being but a Jewish person well to me neo-nazis are a representation of something I already know about human behavior with namely that people do do tend to hatred and anger and frustration and this is everywhere not just in Germany it's all over the world and we see it more than ever in America right now so it's really not to say that I'm I'm feeling oh this is a particularly German disease and it was wrong okay I've learned to live with hatred I've learned I've come to this point in my
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life where I do not desire to live in a utopia I do not desire to cleanse the world of hatred I simply desire to strengthen the part of society that can counteract that and for that I think it's important to de-emphasize the vision I think the vision is not going to help us serve as a counter force to hatred and you see this so clearly in the states right now you have the right-wing conservatives which is a group that is powered by hate and they are powerful because they have a united voice and meanwhile the Democrats and the the Socialists the left-wing group
01:11:18
from the state are just completely divided amongst themselves by different issues with some of them are focusing on and rights for gay people and some of them are focusing on rights for women and some of them are focusing and rights of trans rights for disabled they're all focusing on their little topics and they cannot band together because they cannot see what they share they can only see the what's important individually to them and they they have no they have no counteracting force you told me you would like to give up your US passport it's like you can't you can't have a bit impossible we should which you identify
01:11:49
as a German after you yes yes I'm German you're jelly that's clear funny when you do it but it's also curable not chained no don't know I'm to say German got the engine I hope I'm not pushing your buttons but you have a weakness for German men come on dad come on darling yeah come on Drago finish me my boyfriend is not blond or blue eyed or anything and he looked over less than me oh my god Chris big crooked nose but he's really great and he comes from a region in the south of Germany where the
01:12:21
dialect is really similar to you dish so there's a nice feeling of familiarity I mean I have to underline that one of the biggest draws of being in Germany is the fact that the language is so similar to my mother language that I feel a sense of familiarity that is powerful can you think of yudish the language without thinking of Judaism without thinking of your background yes because I can for example sometimes associated with like the secular writers and poets of the Yiddish movements like the the
01:12:52
playwrights as an ski or the ride solomon a parent you know you associated also with secular arts to end level i would like to quote from an interview that you gave de velde henrik embroider the famous German Jewish intellectual intellectual natural public rezulin is a rabble-rouser varoom willed the bogus help Mon droit severan well here for fun with leashes I'd spy on Van yeah bond issuer is
01:13:23
filming Theodoric saxy is living there forgotten height is mark the ultra bells on his first ad ma Donald mix the optimally he owns an Americanism parcel on America - Hannah Adam - Nelly Zach's Stevens y con pollo Spinoza well she dresses here Gaby oh deutsche builder Austrian world builders the Unger van - could do business after study at candy's enamel advice both for listing the Board of Health Month Christie corner only absolute forbid
01:13:56
Abba if I know Holland Aryan mr. Mollison works diverting inwards and it I am here see alley they're an autobiography in fiddle have a sigil and successful town yes I know she's not very well I told you in the Netherlands this is quite a controversial figure I think I may say this and so I was wondering but why she was so important to you well I read the book that in English titled infidel shortly before I left the community I
01:14:27
was a Hasidic housewife and I read her story and it was for me a story of escape a very brave story of escape and it inspired me to concretely plan my own and to believe that escape is possible and for me because she did this for me she has remained a very important figure I have not read her later books I have not followed her her later work but to me she is still the woman that accomplished what she accomplished she managed to leave behind tremendous suffering and oppression and she did it
01:14:58
by any means necessary yes she had to be dishonest I mean she had to use what we would consider less than dignified resources to arrive at where she has but can you blame her in her position and for me I admire the fact that she was willing to do whatever it took to get out and I wanted to have that quality in myself I wanted I read the book and I thought I want to be her I want to be capable of what she was capable of I understand but later on I mean she started working for the American Enterprise Institute and no no I cannot
01:15:30
in any and also the Middle's I'm not like a high concern right ring yeah I know and I I don't agree and I think it's very disappointing but I also understand the forces at work politically and how it's very easy to become pressure to be in one category or another you're not really allowed to have your own politics you have to in order to get support from people to fit into one political category it's very disappointing absolutely but I cannot say that because of all the things that have happened and because of how she has fallen into the wrong hands so to speak that I can now deny the value of the
01:16:01
things that she has achieved earlier for me it's still very important it's she's still a role model for many people who are in my position you cannot deny the power of that story it it will move people to do what she has done and maybe they will learn from her future work and decide okay but I will not do it like that okay tell us two less questions let me go to the public I noticed that your mother unlike your grandmother is quite absent you work would you say that you're still angry with her that you still have the to make your mother have
01:16:33
not finished if there's a lack there's really a void there because when I left I tried to start a relationship with her and the problem was that when she had gone in order to survive she had completely repressed the whole past and I showed up and I was the reminder of it and she didn't want to talk about it at all she didn't want to have to think about it and I wanted explanations I wanted to ask questions and she wanted to pretend as if we had been normal mother and daughter her whole life and we she never wanted to talk about the past for me that was really very frustrating I'd waited a long time to
01:17:05
finally get answers and she wasn't willing to give them to me and this really prevented a relationship from occurring although I tried for five years to work on this but for Norville no I think it was very difficult to her because I left with my son and it was kind of a proof for her or maybe a reminder that she had failed to do what I had done successfully and maybe she felt it was like a silent accusation or something does your son identify as a German or
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after Vailsburg vehicle next time I come back here with your new book in German make your German passports do you want us to talk German or I should I learn Yiddish for you I mean I highly doubt that you can learn to speak the G - I grew up with and if you do it probably with you the terrible accent so let's just do German yeah German German that's fine yeah and then you take also back to that look like yeah you should go huh no I never take
01:18:05
this back you never take it back maybe when you get a ten and you shave your head or something good maybe that's that's my goal then that's then I'll shave my ass okay so it's my hair well into German time for Q&A you can ask anything you want it's all about him no you can ask Rick you can ask questions and animal head is walking around with a mic hello my name is
01:18:38
Caspar and to me you sound rather rational and very factual my question is what did you do with your anger your rage your hatred and what would my anger and did you with your way to anger your hatreds the gentleman is asking but what kind of rage or hatred do you mean directed at what what would I be angry at what's done to you ah I can explain this very easily and there is around a lot of room in such a circumstance to
01:19:08
develop simple feelings of anger because imagine that the people who do think to you have suffered a million times more than you and they're only doing those things because they're not capable of being better because of their suffering in such a situation you don't feel angry you rather feel pity and you feel admiration that they have even managed to do as much as they've done I can never be angry at my grandparents for inflicting the lives that I live simply because they went through hell and they never did anything with bad intentions
01:19:39
they did this because they sincerely believed they were protecting me so the emotions here would be much more complicated you believe they're still thinking this yes but stay there there's no contact between your grant and not nothing now next question I think first of all I don't know leave enough time wait wait for the mic and if you can see
01:20:09
your name that would be kind my name is Mira P / Myers and what kind of things means your experience has on your way of thinking about the religions and she ever heard about first religion syndrome yes I have and my way of thinking about religion has absolutely been influenced but I would say that if you could go wider than that and you can say that my experiences have influenced the way I see all groups so I am very hesitant to
01:20:41
be a part of any situation that involves a group because I am skeptical of group thinking and group identities so this is the reason that I am not part of any kind of Club any kind of community religious or non-religious because I feel that when people spend too much time in groups or identify more with a group than with themselves that things can get a bit dangerous and it feels very uncomfortable to me after spending so much time in that mentality to revisit it in Exodus you compare village and also to being religious to big an
01:21:13
alcoholic yes it's an addiction it's an addiction and we should say this a community of office what is it's like I don't know there is one but I don't belong to them you're the only officer I think I know and so I'm so Alan yeah right yeah no you prefer to be homeless yes I do because it's more honest that's a good position if you're powerful enough ah speaking from personal experience yeah no I think this is I mean sometimes
01:21:43
you need people to protect you know it's it's if you can choose to be homeless and I unlike you I I really identify with many things he said but you can do so only if you are powerful enough yourself you accused me of being pals I don't I don't accuse you I think I said it's not power it's resourcefulness I think somewhere in your books I can look for the quote you are something to the to the extent of that you that you are obsessed at power that your interest yes
01:22:13
to to have over myself not to lord over others but in auditors power over yourself you need to be saw enough to to to defend yourself against the other people yes but the process of defending myself against others is simply to assert power over yourself first to have yourself as your own Dominion if you don't have that and of course you are vulnerable for all kinds of invaders it's like a country without an army of course everyone will come and plunder we'll talk about it make your next book yeah Ellis cry next
01:22:43
question I see yeah and I'm not sure there's a few hands yeah Alice I always feel so guilty when I think my name is margulies clerics and I was just wondering how big was your community about three hundred and twenty thousand members in New York State but there is a larger communities all over the world there is of course one in Israel there's also one in Antwerp I don't know if any of you have ever been to Antwerp there's a community there and there's one in London as well there's one in California there's some in South America so they're really quite spread
01:23:15
out next question two hands with everyone else today yes the ladies always always work so obsessing we are stark and I wanted to ask you how is it to live without love and there's not a word for love in the English language that you were taught yes I did I did pull off yes they are a word fella we don't have lever right so if you if
01:23:47
you can even describe it and you don't experience it because of the absence of a mother and the father who is maybe not capable of giving any dramatized grandparents and husband who clearly didn't give you any how how is it possible to survive hmm good question I will say that there are two different schools of thought on the impact of language and culture and vice versa there is an older belief that if you
01:24:19
don't have a word for something you can feel it and the newer belief says that you feel it regardless of whether you have a word for it I'm somewhere in between the fact that we didn't have a word and yudish for love that I never saw a mother tell their child I love you or that a husband tell their wife that or sibling sailors to each other I do believe that I sensed there was something missing but I wasn't able to pinpoint what it was and the reason I was able to sense something was missing was I did have one source of love in my life and that was my grandmother my grandmother was in her own way without saying it and without
01:24:49
showing it a very loving person and she never hugged me and she never said she loved me or was proud of me but I still felt how much she loves me by the way that she treated me by the way that she cooked for me by the way that she took me along with her whenever she went summer by the way that she spent time with me and she also ready to talk for you hear me up the game at the time to spend with me yeah it's like when a person dedicated themselves to emotionally and mentally that you love her yes I do and this was like definitely the source of love that I
01:25:19
couldn't pinpoint and say this is love but later I was able to look back and say this was the source of love of my life and it's the reason I'm capable of loving and why the reason I still believe in it and they love yes but I have to say something in the sense of the English language but because English itself is a pacifist thing at the Nobel prize-winner welding use that I'm going to fill up that only yeah are you this was censored of you that were dangers like this we had one word in Hebrew ah ha ha ha and this was the kind of love that you feel for God that is mixed with dread with force you say for you here
01:25:51
fear and dread yeah and we wanted to take the question right from the lad right mixture if you compare your the Hasidic religion with a more moderate Jewish religion are there any similar similarities or patterns that are with other Jewish religion with a more moderate moderates like like conservative or oh you mean like this women in like normal if there's a normal
01:26:23
Jewish religion button well it's not there's nothing normal English nothing in the middle there isn't but religion is something that is constantly changing and being interpreted in different ways by different communities there is no ultimate Judaism or original Judaism or true Judaism Judaism is very diverse and it's lived in many different ways all over the world and is always changing despite the fact that Hassidim want to deny this I mean they are themselves in new movement so I don't believe that there is one true expression because I also don't believe in one true God I don't believe in one true anything it's all relative
01:26:54
I recognize the links between all fundamentalist religions and how they function they seem to all function in the same way the way that they delegate authority the way they hierarchical I've met people from different communities who say to me that although they didn't grow up to which they feel they have my story because they grew up Hindu or Buddhist or Muslim or Christian evangelical so in that sense I think all religions do tend to function very similarly they are tools of power for
01:27:29
human beings that's clear we go to the next question and I see a hand over there yeah lady what can I actually say I have to say two questions what's your name is no sorry my name is Noah yeah well my first question was in the Jewish community in Brooklyn to what extent were you able to develop your unique own personal identity or was there any room for that no absolutely none everything
01:28:02
was in my own fantasy like in my head I could not talk to anyone about it for fear of being reported on and punished and so even if there was a chance that someone else out there was like me it was too dangerous to reach out and ask and so I had to keep everything a secret and that's precisely why the pressure builds and when I left I thought I'll just get rid of my external personality and my inner one will just come out and it wasn't that simple because I discovered that they were like knitted together and I cannot separate them unfortunately that's the big struggle
01:28:34
but I the feeling that by winning these forbidden books yet almost double life yes I did I have a double yeah and in this other life you had a very individual separate identity if I had a fantasy self but no one ever got to see it now you can I opened up the only one one of the very few well today a few your so flattering the first low if you can go to the first or two ladies maybe the lady here first
01:29:03
and we go to the my name is Monique and is there now a change in in your life experiencing emotions feelings can you be surprised by your feelings is there other dreams or hmm there was for a long time but I worked through a lot of that chaos I just still
01:29:35
have dreams about my grandmother sometimes but I'm I have managed to work really hard and to kind of live in the moment now which i think is really lovely way to lived like really being the present and to not be hung up on the past or hung up on your anxieties about the future I found that because I fought so hard to live a normal life that the way I said in this interview this week that normality this is just normal everyday life is really very very
01:30:06
exciting for me and I find that I'm very caught up in like in the everyday activities and I feel very present in them because I appreciate them so much they are still so new to me and it sounds really silly but I always miss my my ordinary life when I'm on book tour because I I miss the simpleness of it what do you mean exactly by ordinary life writing to make your life song yes because you make all little decisions by yourself and nobody tells you how to do it you don't have to ask for permission you don't have to call the rabbi every
01:30:38
little decision I'm making myself I decide what to eat for breakfast I decide when I want to wash the dishes but sometimes you have to discuss things with your boyfriend yes but I keep a lot of Independence there since I see and one of the things you do this by living separately yes it's very important for me to have my freedom our space I think of another labia thank you my name is stea feelin's maybe you can elaborate a little bit more on your education because what I understood that
01:31:09
you were raised and educated to see in the community however later you were allowed to go and to visit the University I know I was a little confused about that I received only a religious education in Yiddish so not any secular education and I had no high school diploma I was able to attend University in secret later when I was married and I was able to get in without a diploma because it is under the individual jurisdiction of universities to decide if they accept you without the diploma they did decide to make this exception for me based on my
01:31:39
circumstances but it was the first secular education that I received that wasn't self-taught so to speak and it was done in secret I was not able to reveal to anyone that I was attending and if it had been revealed I would have been punished and prevented from attending so I had to basically I was driving to this University and in the car I would take off my way and I would put on jeans and then I would have to go back and put it back on again I will double eyes but also you describe in your first book how you get also English
01:32:11
lessons in elementary school you have to eat highly censored versions of yes they the government would come and enforce the schools at the end of the day to do like an hour of English and for this they would print out like a government mandated short story and then they would go through it with a black marker and all the pictures in all the words that were forbidden but like seeing a miniskirt was censored you know like really really like harmless words and we didn't we couldn't understand the story but that was not the point the point was we had to practice reading the words I'm
01:32:42
so glad you taught us the meaning of Trenholm tonight uh-huh we thought about it later oh yes and I'm my ranking I've been wondering how your son is developing and how he is feeling in Germany now well we left the community when he was turning 3 years old and he didn't remember like shortly after he learned English and forgot Yiddish he didn't remember anything on this past life and the incredible thing has been that his father also became non-religious four years after I did and
01:33:12
has remarried and has another child and lives a completely secular life and my son flies to his father twice a year to visit him but he actually really began to flourish in Germany probably because he sent the same distance that I sense he sends the real fresh start and he really really is thriving he's a very very normal kid something which I'm very proud of although probably some people want their kids to be special but I think it's really amazing that my son is normal because it was so unlikely when he was born that he would have a chance and he's doing really well in school and
01:33:45
he is where I think he's well traveled and curiousness got friends from all over the world and he seems happy you know the way she is are know he speaks German you're still dreaming it's very rarely like mixture sometimes like the German and the Yiddish mix this together until I get weird in between kind of words sometimes I say things like I had to learn German by converting Yiddish into German because it's a bit like imagine if you grow up only speaking a
01:34:16
German dialect then you have to learn hostage as an adult you have to kind of convert everything you know into like a different pronunciation and a different conjugation and that's what I had to do with utage but sometimes I didn't manage to make the complete transition and the word got stuck in the middle so I'll say a word and it's not really German and it's comfort it is within between any words yeah it's like are in between language mmm nice my secret language again obviously good life a secret language a few more questions and then we met we were exactly
01:34:47
my name is taya Cohen and in spite of what Arnold said I like to say that I was very impressed to listen to you and thank you and I think you're very brave and courageous and my question is the family you grow up in in the system the rigid system you know you think that's representative for the more families of these through 300 thousand in I think it's more lenient sorry I think it's actually one of the more lenient ones I think the most of the families are much more richer than my own Oh
01:35:18
the other question is is this the same community as the Habad it is you know there are mortal enemies behind you should explain a bit about a survivor the Messianic Jews they believe that their former rabbi never actually died but went up to heaven like Jesus and will come back at any moment because he is the Messiah and this is considered by other Jewish communities as heresy because you cannot declare the Messiah only God can declare the Messiah so they broke apart from most of the Jewish
01:35:50
world and practice a messianic missionary Judaism that if seen as very suspect and by the Satmar is seen as positively evil do you think in their own ways in different categories yes I do believe but they are very schooled in the art of PR they are taught from a young age how to speak about their lifestyles in public and how to what do what I call whitewashing they are told that it's okay to lie about Judaism if it helps bring Jewish people closer to
01:36:21
God and so a lot of the work that they do involves them being deceptive about what it is they're trying to sell and I find that very problematic and also that's like the Lubavitch in New York at the mixer think yes they try to go around and have a good look yeah that's something that normally Jewish people do not do they're the only ones I didn't do that look the baggage okay two last questions and then we go home I assume at least we go to the cafe I heard you say and I rephrase I didn't put things in the book to protect my
01:36:56
husband's and to protect my family and my question is why are they still deserving of your loyalty no it's not that they're deserving of my loyalty it's like in a way to protect the dignity of yourself as an author and also to create the dignity of my son like there's just certain things that were 100% necessary and I wasn't going to include something just because I had a vendetta or just because I was angry at people I was only going to include things that are absolutely necessary to the story I still understand that my son is a product of of myself and my husband that he's a
01:37:28
product of both our families and that he is also affected by this work as am i and it would be harming to myself if I use these books as an opportunity to spill every grudge let me work this book the first book I'm not very conscious about the reaction reactions you would get from from your community yes theoretically I was conscious but obviously it's very difficult to translate that into the practical consequences I think we're taking one more one wind and we're done you can eat
01:38:00
your cheese absolutely thank you and I was wondering to him oh no again through again and I was wondering and if you ever wish you were brought up in somewhere in Germany as like a normal girl normal German girl I never like wanted to be a normal German girl but of course I wanted to be normal but now I it's sometimes strange to imagine that because then you know you wouldn't be the person that you are so you feel very
01:38:32
disconnected from that possibility I think I'm pretty happy now in my life but I don't spend a lot of time wishing that things were or had been different so that's that's good right you're except yeah I feel pretty happy yeah I mean we are both afraid to say that we are a hundred percent happy because we are afraid the devil will come and smite us but in devil never say that you have the exactly never never thank you Delaware thank you for being here I wish you a happy evening don't think of me after your Super Bowl I bet you and I will be again here somewhere
01:39:03
this fall the program is not yet sure but not yet clear but will be announced never one will come back surely let's give each other [Music] [Applause] [Music] [Applause] and [Music]
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[Music]

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