Here and There (Hardcover)

Leaving Hasidism, Keeping My Family

By Chaya Deitsch

Schocken, 9780805243178, 240pp.

Publication Date: October 13, 2015

List Price: 26.00*
* Individual store prices may vary.


A heartfelt and inspiring personal account of a woman raised as a Lubavitcher Hasid who leaves that world without leaving the family that remains within it.
Even as a child, Chaya Deitsch felt that she didn’t belong in the Hasidic world into which she’d been born. She spent her teenage years outwardly conforming to but secretly rebelling against the rules that tell you what and when to eat, how to dress, whom you can befriend, and what you must believe. Loving her parents, grandparents, and extended family, Chaya struggled to fit in but instead felt angry, stifled, and frustrated. Upon receiving permission from her bewildered but supportive parents to attend Barnard College, she discovered a wider world in which she could establish an independent identity and fulfill her dream of an unconfined life that would be filled with the secular knowledge and culture that were largely foreign to her friends and relatives in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. As she gradually shed the physical and spiritual trappings of Hasidic life, Chaya found herself torn between her desire to be honest with her parents about who she now was and her need to maintain a loving relationship with the family that she still very much wanted to be part of.
Eventually, Chaya and her parents came to an understanding that was based on unqualified love and a hard-won but fragile form of acceptance. With honesty, sensitivity, and intelligence, Chaya Deitsch movingly shows us that lives lived differently do not have to be lives lived apart.

About the Author

CHAYA DEITSCH graduated from Barnard College with a B.A. in English literature and received her M.A. from Columbia University. She has held positions at Viking Penguin and Little, Brown, and now works as a financial writer in New York City.

Praise For Here and There: Leaving Hasidism, Keeping My Family

“A renunciation tinged with love . . . the writing a minor feat of alchemy. . . . Readers can learn lots about a subculture they once knew little about.”
—Jennifer Senior, The New York Times

“Deitsch writes gracefully and compassionately about life as the eldest daughter of very observant parents. . . . There is no sudden break from her Hasidic roots, rather a slow and steady unwinding, an escape from patriarchal oppression in which she somehow manages to avoid severing her bonds to her beloved parents.”
—The Boston Globe
“An exquisitely tender memoir that chronicles Deitsch’s journey towards independence from a world that was stifling her. . . . Her reinvention as a modern woman is a miracle of sorts, and her writing is riveting.”
—The Jerusalem Post Magazine
“It’s refreshing to read a memoir in which, though the author struggles internally with her decision, her family accepts her choice. . . . Deitsch writes engagingly in a smart, true voice that makes readers want to know even more.”

“Deitsch’s story is permeated with discontent, but never disrespect, and laced with love for and from her family. It is perhaps Deitsch’s parents who are the real heroes of this story, straddling expectations of family and community while stretching to accept their daughter’s needs. . . . A heartfelt and honest memoir.”
Publishers Weekly
“While many such stories would end in ostracism, this is about how the author found her own way while maintaining family and community relationships. . . . Warm, funny, and genuine, Deitsch’s style makes her story relatable, since we have all experienced difficulty disclosing parts of ourselves.  A very enjoyable debut.”
—Library Journal
“This book is different from other books on this theme that we have read until now. . . . Those of us who live with alienated children or alienated parents—whatever the cause—will take comfort from Deitsch’s account.”
—Jack Riemer, South Florida Jewish Journal

“Chaya Deitsch is a gifted writer who depicts the daily life of a Hasidic family with a sensuous precision, and with humor and charm. She offers a thoughtful critique of the strictures of her faith from the point of view of a maturing young woman wrestling with a need for independence and individuality. Yet her gradual disillusionment is told with love, understanding, and respect for a family whose members are brought to vivid life in her artful telling. A thoroughly original contribution to a blossoming genre.”
—Joseph Berger, author of The Pious Ones: The World of Hasidim and Their Battles with America
“Written with appealing warmth and a keen self-awareness, Deitsch’s memoir gives us both a woman’s insider view of the Lubavitcher Hasidic world and a moving account of her own rebellion and difficult transition to a secular life. Her mixed feelings ring true. I was thoroughly engrossed by this book.”
—Morris Dickstein, author of Why Not Say What Happened  

“Like the clothes they favor, Hasidic Jews are often portrayed as black or white. Either all-in or all-out. Live by the community strictures or separate. In this brave, honest, and forthright book, Chaya Deitsch shows us another path, as she navigates between her need to be free and her longing to stay connected.” 
—Ari L. Goldman, author of The Search for God at Harvard