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123 of 128 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Let Her Name Be Erased, March 24, 2012
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This review is from: I Am Forbidden: A Novel (Hardcover)
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The Hasidic community is a world unknown to me. I couldn't resist a book that would reveal the exotic lives of those men with the side curls and long black coats - and their almost invisible women.

Now, after reading this intense novel, I at least know a few things that are forbidden: looking at statues of saints and Greek gods, switching on a light on the Sabbath, having marital intercourse on unclean days, reading this book. Anouk Markovits gives us glimpses of the countless rituals that guide Hasidic men, women, and children through every step of life. If you sin against the Law, your father can erase your name from the book of life and banish you to nonexistence.

I Am Forbidden focuses on the Satmar, the most insular Hasidic sect. It follows a Satmar clan from Transylvania to Paris, Manhattan, and Williamsburg. It opens just before World War II and brings us to the present day.

There's a terrific love story drenched in biblical imagery - a tense drama played out between a man and wife in the shadow of The Law. And there's a poignant tale of two sisters, one devout and one rebellious, estranged by the Law. Human love struggles mightily with the love of God in this book.

Memories of the Holocaust haunt these pages. We watch the murder of Jewish families in Transylvania - and we learn of a scandal linking prominent Jews and Nazis. Questions of right and wrong are a constant torment to the characters in I Am Forbidden. Guilt becomes a deadly force.

Like the rebel heroine of this book, Anouk Markovits left her Hasidic home to pursue personal freedom. The pain and the exhilaration of that decision can be deeply felt in I Am Forbidden. I found the book fascinating.
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Showing 1-10 of 11 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Apr 27, 2012 8:06:16 AM PDT
NC Reader says:
Beautifully written review, thank you.
- Susan

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 27, 2012 9:24:00 AM PDT
Patto says:
You're very kind to write. Thanks for your comment!

Posted on May 24, 2012 2:56:54 PM PDT
I have been struggling to write my own review of this book. You did it beautifully.

In reply to an earlier post on May 25, 2012 12:48:18 PM PDT
Patto says:
Thanks so much for writing! I hope you will do a review.

Posted on Jun 20, 2012 11:01:51 AM PDT
[Deleted by Amazon on Jun 20, 2012 11:38:16 AM PDT]

Posted on Jul 10, 2012 9:45:07 AM PDT
Nice review however, as an Orthodox Jew who does overlap quite a bit with the Chassidishe world, it's unfair to walk away from this book thinking that orthodoxy/chassidism is intrinsically repressive. Not that I fault the reviewer who prefaced the review by admitting a lack of knowledge on the subject, but in the interest of fairness and intellectual honesty, people should know that there are plenty of "Anouk Markovits" questioning people who pursued personal freedom, graduate degrees and fulfilling marriages -and stayed orthodox.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 11, 2012 7:47:27 AM PDT
Patto says:
Thanks for your informative comment. Glad to hear from someone with broad knowledge on the subject.

Posted on Jul 20, 2012 9:02:09 AM PDT
SR says:
I enjoyed reading your review. Interesting to note, though, that the knowledge you gained pertain to Orthodox in general (switching on lights on the Sabbath, having marital intercourse on unclean days), or the ultra-orthodox in general (looking at statues, reading this book), but not the Hasids in particular. Hasids do practice a more intense form of the religion, but not in these specific areas.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 26, 2012 12:49:54 PM PDT
Patto says:
Thanks for your post. I'm learning a lot from informed comments like yours.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 26, 2012 8:07:02 PM PDT
SR says:
You're very welcome. By the way, I am a Satmar woman myself, and I personally don't feel any lack of freedom in my fulfilling life. My husband and I share a wonderful marriage, as well as 3 beautiful children and a successful small business we founded together. We find our religious beliefs enriching and meaningful.
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Patto
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Location: Vermont

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