A moving and revealing exploration of Hasidic life and one man's struggles with faith, family, and community.
Shulem Deen was raised to believe that questions are dangerous. As a member of the Skverers, one of the most insular Hasidic sects in the US, he knows little about the outside world - only that it is to be shunned. His marriage at 18 is arranged, and several children soon follow.
Deen's first transgression - turning on the radio - is small, but his curiosity leads him to the library and, later, the Internet. Soon he begins a feverish inquiry into the tenets of his religious beliefs until, several years later, his faith unravels entirely. Now a heretic, he fears being discovered and ostracized from the only world he knows. His relationship with his family at stake, he is forced into a life of deception and begins a long struggle to hold on to those he loves most: his five children.
In All Who Go Do Not Return, Deen bravely traces his harrowing loss of faith while offering an illuminating look at a highly secretive world.
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Very well done
I'd quibble with the Publisher's Summary on the Audible page, because I didn't come away from the book feeling like Shulem was "raised to believe that questions are dangerous."
It sounded/read to me that he chose, for very personal reasons, in his teen and early adult years, to join a community that believed that questions are dangerous. And that this was the community he was married and had a family in.
The trajectory of his loss of belief is a very tragically beautiful read, as he desperately looks for answers to the questions that his community doesn't want him to ask. He seems to have specific answers in mind that he needs to hear, and when he doesn't get the answers he wants, he takes it very hard.
The tragedy is in the community's response, and what happened with his exwife and his children in response to his personal evolution. The beauty is in his birth family's (his mother's and his siblings') unconditional love and acceptance, as they remain believers (notably not in the same community that he chose to live in).
The audio performance is very well done.
- A. Katz
very moving book