2005_11_22_hasids.jpg Occasional opinionist Phoebe Maltz recently had one of those very specific New York moments:

On the subway back from Manhattan this evening, I found myself in the middle (physically, not vocally) of a conversation about what to pierce next, at what point piercings look trashy, and which piercing salons were better than others. A typical subway conversation if there ever was one, second only to, "Move into the center of the car, and stop filming me with your camera phone while you're at it." But the discussion participants? A group of Orthodox Jewish girls, as was clear from the long skirts and the discussions of Shabbat.

A nice anecdote, we thought, and one we could definitly relate to. And then we promptly forgot about it and went on with the rest of our lives. But then on the subway we opened up our copy of the Post (don't give us that look you, we read the Times on the way home) only to have a Hasid with a photoshopped hot-red mohawk staring out at us. Needless to say we were instantly reminded of Ms. Maltz's previously mentioned moment. Sadly the Post's photo didn't make it onto the internets, but the accompanying story did. And as the subject of the story, a new book called Unchosen : The Hidden Lives of Hasidic Rebels

by Hella Winston, is in fact the point of this post that's kind of ok by us. Basically Winston spent some months exploring the underbelly of the Orthodox Jewish experience as research for her CUNY doctoral thesis. She talked to people who have left the faith, remained in, or have foudn ways to sit somewhere in the middle (think secret televsions, hidden heels and slicked back sidelocks). As we regularly, for no particular reason, find ourselves fascinated with exceptions to orthodoxy, we totally want to read this book now.

Photograph from the cover of Unchosen : The Hidden Lives of Hasidic Rebels.