Exo­dus: A Memoir

Deb­o­rah Feldman
  • Review
By – March 13, 2014

I was con­trolled and over­pow­ered as a child, and here was my oppor­tu­ni­ty to relive the expe­ri­ence with a dif­fer­ent end­ing.” Deb­o­rah Feldman’s fol­low-up to her mem­oir, Unortho­dox, details her life after leav­ing behind her Sat­mar roots. Feld­man works hard to fig­ure out where she fits in the world. She moves with her son to the coun­try­side to heal, escape from the busy city, and live guid­ed by her own deci­sions. She is in a con­stant strug­gle of self. Her sto­ries are scat­tered through­out the book, the years not so clear, the chap­ters sep­a­rat­ed by themes, like box­es in which she places dif­fer­ent parts of her being. She depicts the rela­tion­ships she has after her di­vorce, most of which are with non-Jew­ish men who are the oppo­sites of what she grew up with. A man named Conor in New Orleans proves to be her first true love, but the spell is soon bro­ken and she feels almost com­fort­ed by the idea that she needs to be alone and that no one could ever make her tru­ly hap­py. She con­tin­ues to reject men before they can hurt or leave her. After all, her child­hood has caused her to be neg­a­tive; a dis­ease that lived in her brain, pro­gram­ming it to expect the worst, fill­ing it with images of grief and dis­as­ter.” In lat­er parts of the book, Feld­man trav­els to Europe to edu­cate her­self about her grand­par­ents’ expe­ri­ences dur­ing the Holo­caust, an attempt to place her­self in their shoes. In Unortho­dox, she depict­ed them as cold and unlov­ing, yet in Exo­dus she glo­ri­fies them, real­iz­ing what they had to endure before they set­tled in Brook­lyn and accept­ed the Sat­mar life. While she was con­stant­ly try­ing to escape Judaism in Amer­i­ca, she finds it to be the thing that defines her on this jour­ney. The peo­ple she meets — a Ger­man lover, an ostra­cized painter, a daugh­ter of a Nazi — make her reflect on what it was that she left behind and how dif­fi­cult for­get­ting it is going to be, and that maybe for­get­ting isn’t the best idea after all.

Relat­ed Con­tent: Unortho­dox by Deb­o­rah Feldman 
Justin Petril­lo hails from Chevy Chase, MD. The city is not named for the actor, so stop ask­ing. He resides in Brook­lyn and spends time play­ing ten­nis, read­ing books by Jew­ish and non-Jew­ish authors, and scream­ing at the Wash­ing­ton Red­skins through the tele­vi­sion. He is a grad­u­ate of Emory University.

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