Press

The New York Times
Jennifer Senior

[Among the recent ex-Hasidic memoirs,] Shulem Deen's "All Who Go Do Not Return" is the best of the lot.   More »

The New Yorker
Kelsey Osgood

In his book, Deen confronts some of the most upsetting events of his life without flinching.... As a critic, I can say that All Who Go Do Not Return is not only the most lyrical but also the most searchingly spiritual of the “ex-frum” memoirs that I’ve read to date.  More »

Wall Street Journal
Jessica Kasmer-Jacobs

All Who Go Do Not Return is an eloquent and heartbreaking retelling of Mr. Deen’s life in New Square and of his eventual expulsion from the community....  More »

The Washington Post
Jay Michaelson

Just a few miles north of New York City, an all-powerful religious leader controls every aspect of his followers’ lives.... Matches are arranged, books are banned, and the slightest details of personal appearance are carefully monitored, with uniformity enforced by authorized thugs.... These details come not from an outside investigative reporter — but from a heretical ex-Hasid, Shulem Deen, in his astonishing new memoir, All Who Go Do Not Return.  More »

The New Republic
Ezra Glinter

[Deen's] book, of all the ex-Orthodox memoirs thus far, is undoubtedly the best. This is partly because of his skill as a writer, but also because of the depth of his experience.... With this book Deen has laid to rest the idea that a Hasid from New Square could never become a great writer in English, or an articulate chronicler of his own experiences.  More »

Chicago Tribune
Shoshana Olidart

...Despite all that's been revealed about these communities, Deen's perspective feels somehow fresh, even refreshing. In part, this is thanks to the book's lack of sensationalism — in a genre that often seems bent on unearthing the shocking and shameful. Perhaps even more remarkable is that, at least in this book, Deen displays no vindictiveness. While there is tremendous pain and pathos in this book, Deen is careful and levelheaded in his portrayal of the community he left behind, while self-critical in his analysis of his own trajectory." More »

Minneapolis Star Tribune
Pamela Miller

In this painful and elegiac memoir, Shulem Deen... eloquently describes his agonizing fall from faith and ascendant longing to live in a less insular world.... While his memoir is set in a small and undeniably suffocating culture few of us will ever experience, his story “of innocence slipping away” will resonate with anyone who has ever struggled with doubts and dreams that their family and community cannot accept, and in fact denounce. Deen is a profoundly intelligent thinker and writer whose sorrow is as deep as that in a sad Psalm. More »

The Boston Globe
Kate Tuttle

There’s nothing new about memoirs of religious doubt and seeking... [but] it can be difficult for an outsider to understand what’s really at stake.... Not so with Shulem Deen’s new memoir... His encounters with the village’s power brokers are harrowingly recounted. Deen’s wishes are fairly modest — all he wants, he writes, is “a world in which I was not lying or hiding” — but what it takes to achieve them illustrates just how much power religion can wield..  More »

Maclean's Magazine
Tomas Hachard

To the end, Deen searches for a new kind of faith to guide him into the future and also to help him make sense of his past choices. But a resounding lesson of his book is that once doubt creeps into your life, certainty never returns.  More »

Ha'aretz
Alona Ferber

In his page-turner of a book, Deen traces his slow transformation from devout Jew to nonbeliever.... Moving and vivid throughout, it comes into its own toward the end, when Deen describes his falling-out with his children and his heartache over his estrangement from his beautiful faith. His emotional vulnerability here really gets across that this is an ongoing story..... Deen has taken a step into another life and the grief of leaving it all behind, while feeling like he had no alternative, is still raw and real. More »

The Jerusalem Post
Elaine Margolin

It was losing God that was most poignant for Deen, an experience he writes about with an eloquent bewilderment recalling the moment he realized he was a nonbeliever.... Deen is an achingly expressive writer and an honest and caring man. He has written a wonderful first book that really explores what it feels like to lose God and then your family, and then for a brief time, feel like you are losing your mind.  More »

The Jewish Week
Sandee Brawarsky

Deen is the poet laureate of ex-chasidim. His sentences flow with originality as he unveils his story with passion and sensitivity. Readers will be surprised to realize that he is largely self-taught, that most of his schooling was in Yiddish.... A heartbreaking book....  More »

The Jewish Daily Forward
Frimet Goldberger

Unlike most others in [the ex-frum] quasi-genre, All Who Go Do Not Return is not a triumphant tale, and its protagonist does not come out the other end as a hero. Instead, Deen’s is an unflinchingly honest book — a work of remarkable introspection, punctuated with a healthy dose of Jewish self-deprecation.... All Who Go Do Not Return is a riveting memoir.  More »

Tablet Magazine
Shaul Magid

A beautiful and tragic story.... this is really a book about honesty. Honesty and its price. Heresy and its price. As one reads, one witnesses a gentle but determined young man try to dig himself out of the dishonesty of belief. More »

Tablet Magazine
Genevieve Walker

I understand that even if I did visit New Square I would have no greater access to Hasidic life than my occasional walk through Williamsburg, where I can see but can’t penetrate its appeal, or its secrets. Deen’s memoir, however, does grant me that access. It is the book’s ticket to mass appeal as well as the seat of his disquiet in its writing. Though he writes because he has a story to tell, Deen’s work, especially in his memoir, is clearly crafted to benefit others dealing with a wavering faith. More »

Jewish Standard
Joanne Palmer

[Deen] is a gifted writer..., so his memoir — unlike so many others from people who are off the derech, who have left the straight, clearly marked path that was laid out for them — is not filled with cartoon villains and gaudily signposted emotional reactions. It is, instead, the rueful, painful, deeply reflective story of a man whose heart and brain, working together, left him no option but to quit the only life he’d known.  More »

New Jersey Jewish News
Andrew Silow-Carroll

deeply moving description of a spiritual journey.... Although the human price Deen paid for leaving his community is profound and painful, he writes largely without anger and with respect for the choices made by others.  More »

Washington Jewish Week
Neal Gendler

A fascinating, disturbing memoir of loss — loss of faith, family and a once-certain future. Deen relates this calmly, neither gloating in worldly superiority nor wallowing in self-pity. But it is impossible not to feel his anguish. All Who Go Do Not Return is an unforgettable story of the power of belief – both the beliefs that bound Deen to his community and the questioning and unbelief that broke those bonds. Heartbreaking, it is absolutely spellbinding.  More »

Arizona Jewish Post
Abbie Kozolchyk

Seeking freedom from his own kind, [Shulem Deen] embarks on a harrowing journey not to receive the laws, but to respectfully hand them back. And as a reader, one feels privileged to be along for the heartbreakingly beautiful ride.  More »

Foreword Reviews
Forword This Week

Deen can write a book about a very specific experience—leaving an insular Hasidic sect—and make it seem universal.... His message resonates beyond himself. More »

Zeek Magazine
Rachel Barenblat

All Who Go Do Not Return is an extraordinary memoir. The writing is beautiful. The journey it chronicles is poignant, relatable — and also unlike anything most readers will ever have experienced.... [Shulem Deen's] voice is an important one in our generation.  More »

Ha'aretz / The Fifth Question
Mira Sucharov

I nearly swallowed whole the new ex-Hasid memoir everyone’s talking about: Shulem Deen’s All Who Go Do Not Return. Shulem’s story is a fascinating glimpse into a hidden world, just as it is ultimately a universal story about the pursuit of personal truth, the attempt to be open-minded in a close-minded world, and, ultimately, the bitter inability to control what others believe about the righteousness of one’s path. More »

Killing the Buddha
Zackary Sholem Berger

"What makes this book an unflinching example of the “off the derech (path)” genre is its rare glimpse into life in New Square, an all-Chasidic village founded by the Skver sect of Chasidim in upstate New York. It is a society which can be warm and enveloping or vile and repressive. Written in an admirable unobtrusive style, All Who Go Do Not Returnachieves emotional truth and plot-driven suspense that eludes some other attempts." More »

Jewish Book Council
Mike Sloan

[Deen's] narrative flows beautifully on the page... [and] keeps the reader glued to the page from beginning to end.... Those who long to be accepted, who have felt lost, should pick up this book. This is a book for the nomad, the explorer, the insatiable. More »

The Rumpus
Dylan Foley 

Gripping.... A fascinating glimpse into a largely unknown world. More »

Colorado Review
Eric Maroney

His life is marked by dizzying transformation, yet Deen’s solid prose acts as a steady rudder, moving swiftly and cleanly through a series of calamities and fluctuations.
Deen’s narrative is steady and dedicated, his keen eye for detail and the drama of his life never bogging the book down in mawkishness or anger. The narrative is brimming with Deen’s strong, even destructive, emotions and impulses, but he does not succumb to angry polemic.... uniquely gifted at interlacing narrative past and present.... All Who Go Do Not Return stands as a testimony of how to live with our ultimate, lasting decisions no matter what the cost. More »

Washington Independent Review of Books
Eugene L. Meyer

An often wrenching memoir of lost faith, Shulem Deen acknowledges that his truth “was not the only truth” and that others he writes about might see things differently. It seems like a small but important concession ­to his years-long struggle to reconcile faith and reason.... Deen’s writing soars...  “All Who Go Do Not Return,” a paraphrase from the Book of Proverbs, is the title of this affecting book. And so it is for Shulem Deen.
More »

New Books Network
Bernice Heilbrunn

All Who Go Do Not Return... 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.... [A] 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. More »

Brooklyn Bugle
Alexandra Bowie

beautifully written memoir of a spiritual journey out of a faith and into a full and humanistic understanding of the world, insightful and worth readingMore »

Shibboleth
Dan Friedman

Deen is a deeply sensitive observer of the world around him and of his own mind.... Deen, too, writes of the intolerance of the Hasidic world, but he writes with understanding and openness. He was a pious Skverer for long enough to understand what it’s like to believe fervently.... Deen’s ability to write without condemnation is a great virtue of the book.  More »

The Atheist Rabbi
Jeffrey L. Falick

[An] outstanding new memoir.... one of the most interesting glimpses into Hasidic Judaism that you will ever read.... A story of great courage in the face of unrelenting pressure to conform. In the end, [Deen] was bowed but not broken. He is a talented writer who has written a most impressive book. More »

The Muslim Observer
Haroon Moghul

We read some books for the quality of their writing.... We read other books for the value of their story. Shulem Deen’s memoir... lives in both houses. This is an atypical memoir, not a crude or feckless narrative of religion lost and meaning found, [and] it’s no trite liberation from oppression propaganda, but something far more heartfelt, genuine and—here’s the word—believable. ...There is something deeper here, a need and hunger for authenticity, for rigor, for freedom, that I could relate to. More »

JTA News 
Q&A with Julie Wiener

Do you remember your first time eating treif? Do you hope your children will follow in your path? Read the answer to this and more »

The Brooklyn Paper
Q&A with Vanessa Ogle

Q: What are some of the everyday decisions others might take for granted that you struggled with when you joined the secular world? Read the answer to this and more »

Publishers Weekly

A heartbreaking read as Deen fights to reconcile his identity and love for his family with his loss of faith in God. But it is also one of great courage and hope as Deen aspires to live openly and without fear for the first time.  More »

Kirkus Reviews

In this moving book, Deen lays bare his difficult, muddled wrestling with his faith, the challenges it posed to everything he thought he knew about himself, and the hard-won redemption he eventually found. More »

Library Journal
Margaret Heller

[Shulem Deen] delves into the challenges of his past with such careful honesty.... VERDICT A solid memoir that will be of interest to fans of that genre, as well as to readers curious about Judaism and Jewish life.

Booklist
Ilene Cooper

In a society where it’s a given that all questions have answers in religious writings, a man who still has questions is looked at askance.... A clash of cultures made fascinating and personal.

Reviews from a Serial Reader

I was mesmerised from the first words.... Deen’s pages are filled with magnificent prose and deep yearning and furious turmoil, taut and torn and challenging and above all, very very sad.  More »

Kate's Place

A well written and engaging memoir.... Very poignant.  More »

Fink or Swim
Rabbi Eliyahu Fink

This is a very well written book. No simple feat for a New Square educated ex-Hasid. It stands out in its very uncomplicated way of conveying very complex emotions and situations. That’s not an easy task for even the most accomplished writers. As a work or literature, All Who Go Do Not Return deserves the precious 7/8 of an inch it will occupy on my bookshelf. More »

Emes Ve-Emunah
Rabbi Harry Maryles

fascinating insider glimpse at what it’s like to be a Skverer Chasid. In both positive and negative terms. More »

Here was a man that simply sought out truth and when he found what he believed it to be it cost him dearly. More »

Pesach Sheni
Pesach Sommer

I thought I knew what to expect when I picked up Shulem Deen’s memoir, “All Who Go Do Not Return.” [But] instead of a tell-all style, complete with salacious details, Deen has written a book so powerful and insightful that I could not put it down. More »

Walking With God
William C. Mills

A heart-wrenching story. Deen's writing is like reading a piece of artwork. More »

Book Q&As with Deborah Kalb

Q: What do you think are some of the most common perceptions and misperceptions about the Hasidic world, and what do you hope readers take away from your book? Read the answer to this and more »

Jewish Book Council: Emerging Voices Interviews
Sam Shuman

Q: Wasn't the book supposed to be called ShaygetzRead the answer to this and more »

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