A surprising and controversial exploration of Hasidic Jews struggling to live within their restrictive communities-and, in some cases, to carve out a new life beyond them . . .
Honorable Mention in the 2012 Casey Medals for Meritorious Journalism
Named one of Publishers Weekly’s Ten Best Religion Books of 2005.
When Hella Winston began talking with Hasidic Jews in Brooklyn for her doctoral dissertation in sociology, she was surprised to be covertly introduced to Hasidim unhappy with their highly restrictive way of life and sometimes desperately struggling to escape it. Unchosen tells the stories of these “rebel” Hasidim, serious questioners who long for greater personal and intellectual freedom than their communities allow. In her new Preface, Winston discusses the passionate reactions the book has elicited among Hasidim and non-Hasidim alike.
“Complex and heart-wrenchingly compelling.” -Caroline Leavitt, Boston Globe
“Winston . . . builds fascinating case studies, inviting readers into her interviewees’ conflicted, and often painful, lives . . . show[ing] us a Hasidic underworld where large families and a lack of secular education have resulted in extreme poverty and some serious at-risk behavior among youth. Her story of courage and intellectual rebellion will inspire anyone who has ever felt like a religious outcast.” -Publishers Weekly, starred review
“Good for Hasidim, non-Hasidim and every reader who responds to one of the oldest plots on Earth-the need of some people to leave the community that raised them, and figure out the world for themselves.” -Carlin Romano, Philadelphia Inquirer
“Dives fearlessly into a fascinating topic . . . Winston channels the exhilaration of her subjects’ newfound freedom, without losing all compassion for the disappointed—even angry—community they are leaving behind.” -Holly Lebowitz Rossi, Dallas Morning News