Deborah Feldman's story is fascinating.
She grew up in the Satmar community, a sect of Hasidic Jews that formed two large settlements in Brooklyn and upstate New York. "...there were no secular newspapers, no radios, no television. Books, too, were forbidden..."
Every rule the Hasids come up with these days is about women. Men have way more freedom than they used to. It’s the women they are trying to crack down on. I lived in that community for two decades, and during that time I saw the advent of the Internet. There was a direct response. My skirts were six to 12 inches longer than my aunt’s skirts. That’s in one generation. The same idea is behind the shaved head: They thought, “We’ll get women to cover their hair, but whose to guarantee they won’t take off their coverings and show their hair? Oh, let’s have them shave their heads.”
You have to understand: We don’t have TV or any real forms of entertainment at all. So politics among the rabbis are entertainment, legal arguments are entertainment. Everyone is looking for something to get involved with, to get heated about, to talk about — especially the young men, who are bored out of their minds and need to get rid of all of that testosterone. The same thing is happening in Israel right now. You see these photos of these riots. ...there’s all this pent-up energy that never gets allowed out, except for the purpose of religion. So then you understand where all this violence comes from. [emphasis mine]
Say one thing for religion: it's consistent - consistently FUCKED UP!
And those moderate and liberal religious people who believe that "the past should have a vote but not a veto" [as Mordecai Kaplan, founder of Reconstructionist Judaism, put it] get dumped on by the orthodox/conservative/fundamentalist wings of their own religions.