March 27, 2015 – The Guardian
Shulem Deen swipes through photos of his eldest daughter’s wedding with a look of pride on his face. He points to a modestly-dressed bride sitting stiffly next to her husband. ‘œI know how nervous they felt,’ he says.
Deen is only guessing; he wasn’t invited to his daughter’s wedding. These are not official photos ‘“ they were taken clandestinely by people he asked to infiltrate the ceremony.
Deen, 40, left the cloistered ultra-Orthodox Jewish enclave of New Square, a village in Rockland County, New York, seven years ago. He is one of a minority that has stepped off the derech, the devout and religious path.
Like others who have turned their back on the Hasidic way of life, Deen has lost contact with his five children and has been ostracized from the community for being a heretic. At the same time, he has found it difficult to assimilate to non-Hasidic culture and worries he comes across as strange to New Yorkers.
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