In her new memoir “Maybe Not Such a Good Girl: Reflections on Rupture and Return,” Susan Reimer-Torn chronicles her return to Jewish life in New York after years of living as a formerly-Orthodox woman in France.
Elissa Strauss spoke with Reimer-Torn about freedom, healing and what the current generation of formerly-religious writers like Deborah Feldman and Leah Vincent can learn from her experience.
Leah Vincent’s new memoir, “Cut Me Loose: Sin and Salvation After My Ultra-Orthodox Girlhood,” has a happy ending. But the rest of the book has a different tone.
Born Leah Kaplan, Vincent grew up in Pittsburgh, the daughter of a prominent yeshivish (black hat) rabbi. She was one of 11 children in a household she describes as both strict and unloving. As a teenager, Vincent began to question some the community’s beliefs and traditions, expressing a desire to go to college, exchanging letters with a male friend and purchasing clothing deemed inappropriate by community standards.
When her parents discovered her deeds, they were afraid that her reputation would sully the chances of her sisters finding suitable husbands, and they cut ties with her. She was set adrift, unprepared for life alone.
She entered into relationships with drug addicts and a much older married college professor. She also began to cut herself, and was briefly confined in a psychiatric facility.
Ultimately, she went to and excelled in college, married and built a positive life. Vincent spoke to the Forward’s Curt Schleier about her upbringing and the seemingly increasing number of formerly ultra-Orthodox.