Book Review: Hassidic fault lines

Despite losing God, his family and briefly his mind, in his first book former hassid Shulem Deen blames himself for not foreseeing the events that would befall him.

By ELAINE MARGOLIN
April 14, 2015 11:52
Shulem Deen

Shulem Deen. (photo credit: PEARL GABEL)

Shulem Deen left the Skverer Hassidic community of New Square, New York, after 15 years of marriage and five children because he was suffocating inside a cloistered world that no longer felt real to him. His eventual departure probably began when he was only a teen and “wondered how we really knew the things we knew, whether heaven and hell really existed, whether the rebbe was truly saintly, whether Moses really split the Red Sea for the Israelites fleeing the Egyptians, and whether those Israelites and Egyptians and Moses ever existed at all.”

But his religious fervor would always return, and he learned to push away creeping doubts by repeating to himself: “To have faith is to believe blindly, to demand no proofs, no evidence, no logic.

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