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Becoming Eve – Abby Chava Stein

Book Summary, Notes & Highlights




GENRE: Autobiography

"Becoming Eve" is Abby Chava Stein's heartfelt memoir detailing her journey from being an ultra-Orthodox rabbi to transitioning into a transgender woman.

It's a tale of identity, faith, and the challenges of self-acceptance.













Key Takeaways

  • Identity and Faith: Abby's journey showcases the struggle of reconciling one's true self with deeply ingrained religious beliefs. Her dedication to her faith, even as she transitioned, and her pursuit of a more inclusive religious community is truly commendable.

  • Transition Journey: Her story sheds light on the physical, emotional, and societal challenges faced during her transition.

  • Breaking Free: Abby's calm rebellion against a restrictive community to find her true self is both inspiring and heart-wrenching.


Favorite Quotes and Anecdotes

  1. "I might have left the Hasidic community, but the Hasidic community has not left me."

  2. "My gender transition was not about leaving one gender for the other, but about becoming myself."

  3. "Holy creator, I am going to sleep now, and I look like a boy. I am begging you when I wake up in the morning, I want to be a girl."

  4. "Do you have a pink soap bar?" he asked. I looked down at my soap, "This is what my mother gave me and it's what we use at home." I replied, acting as though I'd never really noticed it before.

  5. "I wanted to spend more time with her and our newborn. I know - I didn't go through labor and delivery - but the feelings don't care about that, and my maternal instincts were in high gear."


New Words Learned

  • Hasidic: Relating to the Jewish Hasidic movement, characterized by its religious conservatism and social seclusion.

  • Yeshiva: A Jewish institution that focuses on the study of traditional religious texts.

  • Payos: The long sidelocks or sideburns worn by some Jewish men. (I had to Google this to visualize it while reading the book.)

  • Judaism: The monotheistic Abrahamic religion of the Jews.

  • Bar Mitzvah: A Jewish coming of age ritual for boys. (Coincidentally, I had watched "You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah" on Netflix just weeks before picking up this book.)

  • Catskills: A popular vacation destination for many New Yorkers, especially those of Jewish descent. (This instantly reminded me of "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel." Having watched the show gave me a clearer understanding of the Jewish community and their traditions.)


Thoughts and Summaries

Amidst my ever-growing pile of self-help books, I chanced upon "Becoming Eve" during a recent book sale haul. I can't quite pinpoint why I was drawn to it. Perhaps it was the unfamiliar territory hinted at in the subtitle, or maybe I just needed a refreshing break from my usual reads. Either way, this book had its hooks in me from the get-go.

Abby's narrative, so beautifully penned, was both digestible and deeply moving. I found myself particularly touched by chapters like "A Dollhouse" and "A Haircut". She delved into the intricate details of Hasidic communities and their traditions, painting a vivid picture that was both enlightening and heart-wrenching. I admired her journey, from being a devout child to a calm rebel, navigating through such a tumultuous transition.

It was evident how much she leaned on books throughout her life, constantly seeking answers and educating herself. I was genuinely impressed.

After turning the last page, I felt an urge to rewatch "Unorthodox" on Netflix. It's quite the experience, seeing how visual storytelling can amplify and enrich our understanding of a written narrative. If you haven't watched it yet, I'd highly recommend it. It's a beautiful complement to Abby's story


How the book changed me

Reading "Becoming Eve" wasn't just about turning pages; it was a transformative journey that reshaped my perspectives:

  1. Childhood Foundations: It made me ponder the deep-rooted beliefs and traditions we're introduced to as children. How every young mind is molded, often without question. It emphasized the crucial role of education and open communication. I found myself wishing that parents would engage more deeply with their kids, fostering understanding rather than mere acceptance of traditions.

  2. Global Support Systems: I was deeply moved to learn about the numerous organizations worldwide that stand as pillars of support. It's heartwarming to realize that in this vast world, no one should ever feel alone or unheard. It's a reminder for all of us to be proactive, to seek out help when needed, and to always be there for others.

  3. The Power of Visual Storytelling: The book reignited my appreciation for the visual masterpieces we get to enjoy, like the thought-provoking series and documentaries on Netflix. Shows like "Unorthodox" not only entertain but educate, making us more empathetic and aware. A big shoutout to all the creators out there who pour their heart and soul into such works.

"Becoming Eve" is more than a memoir; it's a clarion call for understanding and acceptance. Abby's tale is a beacon of hope, a testament to the resilience of the human spirit, and the lengths one will go to find authenticity. It's a powerful reminder of the transformative power of self-expression and the importance of staying true to oneself. This book has left an indelible mark on me, making me value the stories around us and the lessons they impart.


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