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14 of 20 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A Charedi Jew's Response, 27 April 2014
This review is from: The Marrying of Chani Kaufman (Kindle Edition)
I am utterly dismayed that so many people read this book and feel that it has given them an insight in to the world of Charedi Judaism.

The book depicts this community as a dirty, sweaty miserable bunch of people who feel fettered by the traditions that bind them. There was not one character who displayed real knowledge of Jewish wisdom, not one character who was motivated by Jewish faith in it's genuine guise, and not one character who was actually HAPPY! The author, an outsider to this world, has created characters who are secular in mindset, clothed them in drab, frumpy wigs and costumes she perceives as the norm (insulting and inaccurate), spattered their dialogue with 'Baruch Hashem's' and so on, and propped them up for the unknowing reader as Torah Jews. Basically, if she placed her secular self in this world, with her exceedingly superficial knowledge, this is how she would feel. But it is not how the real people of this world feel! In fact, most feel fulfilled, most are living lives rich with meaning and purpose, even, believe it or not, enhanced by their large families! Most feel that freedom only comes with adherence to Torah Judaism, and would see the Rebbetzin's final actions are in fact a descent FROM freedom. I know this to be true because this is my life and this is how I feel. Eve Harris just doesn't have a clue.
And why does she feel the need to comment on the size of every female character's bottom? She sees herself as a feminist I'm sure, but her continued observations about the bodies' of these women seems almost misogynistic at times. Or perhaps this animosity is only reserved for overweight religious women.
She also makes myriad mistakes about Jewish Law, and I feel I must underline the most outrageous ones as it incenses me to think that people might believe these to be true:
1) A marriage does not have to be consummated on the first night.
2) The Sheva Brachot are not to keep the couple apart - they are a series of festive meals to celebrate with the couple and shower them with blessing. The couple are in fact supposed not to work during these days, and must spend time together celebrating, and they share the same bedroom, so clearly this is a ridiculous claim.
3) The bride and groom are taught before their marriage exactly what sex involves. Chani and Baruch's wonderings about what they are supposed to do is entirely imaginary. Harris clearly came to her own conclusions about this without researching what is actually taught in the one-to-one classes that brides and grooms attend.
4) The use of musical instruments is forbidden on the Sabbath - this is pretty basic so I don't know how Harris came to depict a synagogue full of supposedly religious people playing instruments on the Sabbath. Such a glaring error emphasizes Harris' utter ignorance.
There are many many more mistakes - see the other reviews written by Orthodox people on this site.

Harris clearly despises religious Jews (who would include a mention of stone throwing in a definition of Hassidim? Is this a fundamental of Chaissidic Judaism? Would anyone dare to mention Islamic terrorisism in defining a major stream of Islam? [the first part of the definition is anyway inaccurate - she has confused Chassidism with the Luthuanian tradition]) but her apparent fascination with the sex lives of Charedi Jews propelled her to set herself up as an authority on this community and produce this book.

If you are genuinely interested in learning about the Torah approach to relationships, read 'The Magic Touch' by Gila Manolson, an easy but comprehensive read. If you are interested in learning about Jewish philosophy, read 'The Thinking Jewish Teenager's Guide to Life' by Akiva Tatz. If you would like to know about Jewish life and faith, read 'The Committed Life' by Esther Jungreis.

Do not read The Marrying of Chani Kaufman, it is nonsense.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 10 Aug 2014 01:06:04 BDT
Lanoir says:
couldn't agree more. So many inaccuracies and not even good writing. How it came anywhere near the Booker shortlist is a complete mystery.
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Location: Gateshead, UK

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