Stories like Escape From the Holy Shtetl make me shake my head. I am a Jew from LA, born and bred here. Spent the last 39 years interacting with BT’s and FFBs of all types.
In plain English I know Jews of multiple observance levels. There are those in my circle who are what you would call culturally Jewish and those who you’d call Ultra Orthodox. For better or for worse I have been happy to say that I can comfortably interact with all of them.
It is no secret to say that I have my agreements and disagreements with them regarding various issues. But overall I haven’t any problem recognizing their Judaism. They may do things differently than I do, but that’s ok. I get it, We’re all Jews.
But the Satmars are a different bird altogether. And while I would never say that they aren’t Jewish (a courtesy that they probably wouldn’t extend to me) I find their ways to be cultish and wrong.
It is not an exaggeration to say that things that I have heard and read make me cringe. That story is going to be read by a lot of people who don’t have enough common sense to distinguish that Jews are not monolithic in behavior and we are all going to be tarred with the same brush.
(This is a post in progress. I need to come back and do something polishing. Hopefully there will be time to do so later.)