Frieda Vizel grew up in the Hasidic community of Kiryas Joel and left the lifestyle with her son. She now explores contemporary Hasidic culture through creative and academic work. Frieda is a graduate student at Sarah Lawrence College and tour guide for Hasidic Williamsburg walking tours. Her website is www.visithasidim.com.
My 8-year-old son Seth and I were out at a baseball game on Saturday when he suddenly turned to me and said, “Mom, I feel like a goy.”
I was horrified. It never, ever occurs to me not to feel…like a Jew. I feel like a Jew the same way I feel like a woman--it’s who I am. When I left the Hasidic community three years ago, people called me a shiksa and said that wasn’t Jewish anymore, that I looked like a goy. It had no meaning to me. It was like telling… >> Read More
When my son was nearly 5, he and I moved to a new home. It was only 30 miles away, but those 30 miles changed everything. We left the insular Hasidic community of Kiryas Joel, and settled into a…Modern Orthodox community in Rockland County, New York. Although I was virtually alone, I was determined to remain connected to my past and remain observant. My commitment didn’t come from a particular religious belief, but from the strong resolve to stay connected--and help my son stay connected--to our network of Hasidic relatives. For my son,… >> Read More
For Mother’s Day, I do something unconventional. I make rice kugel for my small family of two: myself and my son. My mother, a Hasidic woman who raised more than a dozen children in the Village…of Kiryas Joel, taught me a special rice pudding recipe. The recipe calls for a slice--and a story. She made her kugel and told her story on Rosh Chodesh, the women’s holiday of my youth. In the Hasidic community we did not celebrate Mother’s Day, but Rosh Chodesh--the first day of the month of the… >> Read More