All Who Go Do Not Return
Graywolf Press 2015
At fourteen, young Shulem Deen, a Hassid in Boro Park, New York, lost his loving father. How was he to deal with the enormous gap in his life that his father’s early death left? He embraced -and was embraced by – a pious spiritual community, the Skverer Hassidim, who had their own town, New Square, New York. In this discreet town of approximately 12,000, only 30 miles north of New York city, the Skverer Hassidim could control everything, or nearly so. So began Deen’s immersion in the life of the Skverer Hassidim, an Eastern European Hassidic group transplanted to the New World — without change!
For a time, Deen’s new life worked. He studied, married, had children—but this thinking, questioning young man soon learned that there was no room for questions that challenged accepted norms of the community. How he navigated the need to be honest with himself with the demands of family he loved makes for a page-turning memoir.
This well-written book takes the reader through little-known aspects of a Hassidic community, both its strengths and vulnerabilities. At once a wealth of psychological, sociological, and just plain interesting episodes as Deen grows and matures, All Who Go Do Not Return: A Memoir (Graywolf Press, 2015) rewards the reader with distinctive insights into the ultra-religious world of the Hassidim.
Shulem Deen’s popular memoir about his life in an insular Hassidic community breaks new ground, written as it is from a male perspective. Having left New Square, Deen founded and edits Unpious, Voices of the Hassidic Friend, an online journal. He is on the board of Footsteps, an important New York-based group that helps people who choose to transition out of the ultra-Orthodox Jewish world. Shulem writes for The Forward, Tabletmag, and other publications. His memoir has been hailed in newspapers and magazines as diverse as The Wall Street Journal and the Huffington Post. He speaks regularly to audiences in New York, Philadelphia, Washington, DC, and elsewhere about his life and memoir.
Read this compelling account of a young man’s immersion in an embracing spiritual community and his struggle to be true to himself and his loved ones.