It’s hard being female in a Hasidic community. It’s impossible to question authority in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, inside the dense community of Satmar Hasids. If, however, you are like the author, Deborah Feldman, both female, and a rebel, then life can be stultifying. Deborah’s father is a certifiable retard. Her mother, married to her father by arrangement without ever having met him, leaves the community soon after Deborah’s birth and is shunned. Deborah is raised by rebbe-fearing relatives and devout grandparents, psychologically burdened Holocaust survivors. Deborah chafes beneath the straightjacket restrictions of orthodox life: no secular education, no reading in English, no speaking with the opposite sex, no post-high school education. No thinking. Only faith. As we watch Deborah crumble under the weight of it all, and as her anger (and anxieties) increase, the rebel in me also raised some questions. Without doubting Deborah’s personal misfortunes, I began to wonder what part of Hasidism is appealing. To Deborah, the entire religious community is out to squash her like an ant crawling aimlessly on a Brooklyn sidewalk, but surely some men and women must find orthodoxy satisfying. Why? If Deborah wasn’t so equally close-minded as her adversaries, might there be a middle ground. Apparently, her forthcoming book, Exodus, asks some of the same questions.