Becoming Eve

My Journey from Ultra-Orthodox Rabbi to Transgender Woman


By Abby Stein

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The powerful coming-of-age story of an ultra-Orthodox child who was born to become a rabbinic leader and instead became a woman

Abby Stein was raised in a Hasidic Jewish community in Brooklyn, isolated in a culture that lives according to the laws and practices of eighteenth-century Eastern Europe, speaking only Yiddish and Hebrew and shunning modern life. Stein was born as the first son in a dynastic rabbinical family, poised to become a leader of the next generation of Hasidic Jews.

But Abby felt certain at a young age that she was a girl. She suppressed her desire for a new body while looking for answers wherever she could find them, from forbidden religious texts to smuggled secular examinations of faith. Finally, she orchestrated a personal exodus from ultra-Orthodox manhood to mainstream femininity-a radical choice that forced her to leave her home, her family, her way of life.

Powerful in the truths it reveals about biology, culture, faith, and identity, Becoming Eve poses the enduring question: How far will you go to become the person you were meant to be?


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MY GRANDFATHER WAS telling me a story.

“Once, when I visited our uncle and I told him of my father-in-law, his family, and our lineage, Der Feter said in awe: ‘Your children are among the most exalted in the world.’”

I tried not to look bored.

“You see,” Zeide explained, “our family is directly descended from the Baal Shem Tov, the founder of Hasidism, and from the holiest leaders in all of Jewish history.”

Whenever Zeide Stein, my paternal grandfather, spoke of Der Feter, I could hear the pride and respect in his voice. Feter is Yiddish for uncle, and his uncle was Rabbi Yaakov Yosef Twersky, the rebbe of the Skv’er Hasidic community, and one of the supreme leaders of Hasidic Judaism after the Holocaust. For a few years, when he was young, Zeide even lived in the Skver’a Rebbe’s house so he could attend a nearby elementary school.

I had heard the vague outline of this story before and wondered where Zeide was going with all of this.

“So what?” I asked Zeide. “So our ancestors were big leaders, and holy people. What does that have to do with us?”

“Well,” Zeide said, stroking his beard, “due to their holiness, their closeness to God and to the inner workings of the divine world, they secured higher souls for their children, grandchildren, and descendants for generations to come.”

“Zeide, you make it seem as though we are like a medieval European regal family, when people believed that God chose the king. It’s not like we’re royalty,” I said.

“No, no, that is exactly what we are!” Zeide interrupted. “That is exactly what I am telling you! Being direct descendants of the Holy Baal Shem Tov means that we are like princes!”

I rolled my eyes and gave Zeide a look that said Yeah, right. He smiled.

“Our sages have said that if the Baal Shem Tov had lived in biblical times, he would have been a patriarch. He would have been a Moses, and we would have counted him among Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob! Imagine his power! And now imagine how holy the souls of his descendants are.”

What the story about Der Feter meant was that this illustrious lineage came down to us from multiple sources. It was not just Zeide’s mother, and his uncle, who descended from the Baal Shem Tov. Zeide’s father-in-law—the father of Bobbe Stein, my grandmother—had a significant lineage in Judaism as well. The complexities of my ancestry were as confounding as they were supposedly impressive.

I didn’t believe most of what Zeide said about our regal stature, but by then I was fifteen years old and questioning everything I was told about religion. Besides, learning that I was somehow holier than others, which in turn meant I had to act holier, was not something I was interested in doing.

But I also knew that among the one million or so Hasidic people in the Ultra-Orthodox Hasidic Jewish world, it was considered a reality.

GEOGRAPHICALLY, I WAS born and raised in New York City. Culturally, I was raised in an eighteenth-century Eastern European enclave in the heart of its capital, the Ultra-Orthodox Hasidic Jewish community in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

I grew up in New York, but I did not speak English, visit museums or the theater, or wear jeans. Popular culture, from television to newspapers to the Internet, was shunned; Britney Spears and the Beatles were not only forbidden but didn’t even exist for me. I hadn’t heard of Friends or Seinfeld, or many major historical events, from Woodstock to the Stonewall Riots—they were spurned topics, and we were kept from ever learning about them.

After Nazi Germany invaded Poland, the Hasidic community was all but decimated, and a few thousand families came as refugees to the United States. In New York, several Hasidic rebbes settled in Brooklyn with a hard task in front of them: rebuilding the Hasidic community from scratch. Undaunted, they set out to re-create Eastern European Hasidic shtetel life.

For the first time, the majority of Hasidic Jews were no longer living in countries where Jews were oppressed—at least, not politically. Until World War I, about half of Hasidic Jews lived in Czarist Russia, where they were confined to the infamous, poverty-ridden Pale of Settlement, which was Catherine the Great’s attempt to segregate the Jews from the rest of the Russian population. Others were living under the Austro-Hungarian Empire, where they had more freedom, but the government still exercised control over their affairs. In New York, for the first time in its two hundred years of existence, the Hasidic community was living in a country that had formal separation between church and state, and where the government rarely—at least, by law—took an interest in religious communities. Not only were Jews no longer treated as outcasts, but they were reaching a new peak of influence, integration, and assimilation in the American melting pot.

But the “outside world” posed a threat, and Orthodox Jews found themselves as a tiny minority among the predominantly secular Jewish American community. So the Hasidic community added new guardrails to its own culture. In addition to creating a lifestyle that resembled life in Europe as much as possible—the food they ate, the clothing they wore, the language they spoke—the Hasidim in America developed new concepts that now came into play. While most Hungarian Jews from my grandparents’ generation spoke fluent Hungarian in addition to Yiddish, their children and grandchildren were taught minimal English. And while in Europe the majority of Hasidic boys worked, mostly among non-Jews, in America all the boys would study until they got married, and most continued to study for a few years after that. The community also created an internal economy, with its own clothing, shops, brands, schools, charities, and every other organization it needed to lead an independent, homogeneous lifestyle with as little outside influence as possible.

It was in this secluded realm that my family lived a royal existence. Both of my parents descend from rabbinic dynasties—that is, the royal families of Hasidism, which have been leading the community like monarchies for the past two hundred years. My father is the tenth generation of the Baal Shem Tov, the founder of the movement—similar to a Morman being a descendant of Joseph Smith, the founder and leader of Mormonism.

I was my parents’ first “boy,” following my five older sisters. I was told for as long as I can remember that my father was desperate for a son, someone to take over his future synagogue—the opening of which I would one day have to witness from a distance. And I almost lived up to his dreams for me. I devoted myself to religion, and with it to family history, Hasidic theology, and family customs. I was a strong defender of our royal lineage.

Still, my piety was, in part, an overcompensation for what I recognized back then as an “evil thought” that defined my interior life: I am a girl.

I don’t remember a day in my conscious life that I could have escaped this fact, but I tried hard. In a community that is so sheltered that it doesn’t even fight or hate the LGBTQ+ community but simply ignores it, I had no idea there was anyone else like me.

Without the Internet, without English, I had no name for what I felt.

WHEN I THINK about the Baal Shem Tov, there is a particular story, one that I heard many times growing up, that comes to mind.

In a small house at the edge of the village of Okopy, in the Kingdom of Poland (modern Ukraine), the old Reb Eliezer was saying his last goodbyes to his only son, who was born to him in old age. According to Hasidic tales, Reb Eliezer was one hundred years old when the child was born, just like the biblical Abraham when his son Isaac was born. Reb Eliezer named his only child Yisroel, and he was called Srulik’l, an affectionate Yiddish nickname. His wife passed away when Srulik’l was a baby, and Reb Eliezer would not live much longer. Srulik’l was about to become a five-year-old orphan.

“Srulik’l,” the old Reb Eliezer told his only child on his deathbed, “in life, fear no one but the Divine. Love every Jew with all your heart and soul, no matter who he is.”

That message of love, unconditional for everybody, regardless of who they are, followed Srulik’l for his entire life, and it became a founding principle of his teachings. The tales surrounding Srulik’l’s childhood are vast, and they resemble the glorified tales that many religious movements tell about their sacred founders. There are tales of him wandering over the mountains and walking in the air. There is a widely held belief that the biblical prophet Ahijah the Shilonite came to teach him—not in his dreams, but while he was awake. There is even a letter, one that is historically authentic, from the Baal Shem Tov in which he writes of it.

It is hard to know which of these stories are accurate, fully or partially, and which are the results of hundreds of years of sanctification.

One detail of his life is surely historical: Srulik’l came into adulthood and soon launched a movement that changed the face of Judaism forever. The name Rabbi Israel Ben Eliezer, the “Baal Shem Tov”—Master of the Good Name—is revered by many. Even the twentieth-century Jewish philosopher Martin Buber said, “The Hasidic teaching is the proclamation of rebirth. No renewal of Judaism is possible that does not bear in itself the elements of Hasidism.”

Although the Baal Shem Tov kept a relatively intimate group of students and followers, peaking at most to a few hundred, his students spread the message of love, spirituality, and the value of every individual person, regardless of wealth or status. With it came a dissemination of song and joy as well as populist messages that spread across Eastern and Central Europe and into Ottoman Palestine and Jerusalem. Within a hundred years, by the middle of the nineteenth century, the majority of religious Jews in Poland and Ukraine—millions of people—were at least nominally Hasidic.

After the Baal Shem Tov died in 1760, the leadership split up, and it slowly became centralized in the hands of families in which the rebbes—Hasidic Supreme Leaders—founded dynasties. Leadership then passed from father to son. Many of those dynasties still exist, and collectively they have a following of hundreds of thousands of Hasidic Jews.

Governance of the dynasties remained in the family, and Hasidic dynasties married among themselves. The children of the Baal Shem Tov married members of other dynasties, and marrying a grandchild of the Baal Shem Tov has been considered an honor for generations.

The Baal Shem Tov himself had just one son, Rabbi Tzvi Hassid of Pinsk, and from there he begat a long line of grandchildren who carried on his legacy:

Rabbi Tzvi Hassid of Pinsk had a son, Rabbi Aaron.

Rabbi Aaron also had a son, Rabbi Hersh of Skver.

Rabbi Hersh of Skver had a daughter, Sima, who married Rabbi Yitzchak Twersky, a scion of the Twersky dynasty and founder of the Skver Hasidic sect.

Sima and Rabbi Twersky’s son, Rebbe Duvid of Skver, had a son, Rebbe Shlomo.

Rebbe Shlomo had a son, Rebbe Eluzer, who escaped the Bolshevik revolution and settled in Fălticeni, an industrial city in the historical Moldova region of Romania.

Rebbe Eluzer’s oldest daughter, Sarah, is my great-grandmother, and the only great-grandparent who was still alive when I was born and whom I can clearly remember.

Sarah’s oldest son is my grandfather, Zeide Stein, who was born in the winter of 1941 in Fălticeni.

Zeide and my grandmother had my father in 1965.

So when Zeide talked about the greatness of Hasidic dynasties, it was indeed very personal, and he impressed upon me the profundity of my own lineage: I myself share a direct ancestor with almost every Hasidic leader today.

IN THE FALL of 1982, when my father was seventeen years old, a matchmaker proposed a marriage for him with a girl from Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Chaya Sheindel Meisels. The match was promising. The young couple both came from rabbinic families, and they shared a primary goal: raise a big, devoted, rabbinic Hasidic family, in which all of their children would follow the path of Hasidic Judaism.

My parents met once and became engaged. The wedding was set for nine months later, December 1983.

“The wedding was the talk of the town,” my father recalled years later. “It was attended by the biggest rebbes of the day!”

And so, a new family started. A Hasidic family, a royal rabbinic family, and a family that was destined to create rabbis, teachers, and leaders in the Hasidic world.

And me.

I was groomed from birth to follow the life-cycle path of the Hasidic tradition. There was my birth and my bris, or circumcision, and then my upshern, first haircut—and first physical distinction as a boy—at age three. My Bar Mitzvah, or entrance to adulthood, took place at age thirteen, and I became engaged to a young bride at eighteen. I got married, finished my rabbinical studies, and received the first part of my rabbinical degree following intense oral exams.

Then, in January 2012, when I was twenty, my son was born. Having a child of my own, I saw in a new light how much we gender babies before they are even born—especially within the Hasidic community—and this made it even harder for me to come to terms with my own identity. I started looking more deeply for answers about gender and faith, questioning both, along with everything else I was taught growing up.

It became more and more difficult for me to stay in the community, to stay religious, and to continue life looking like a man. The Hasidic community is—as far as my research has shown—the most gender-segregated society in the United States, and gender roles are deeply engrained in that lifestyle. Leaving would eventually become inevitable.

But leaving the community, let alone my assigned gender, was also considered deplorable.

My story includes two interwoven transitions: coming out of Ultra-Orthodoxy, and coming out as a trans woman. The stories we read of both experiences tend to suffer from problems in the public sphere, problems that are marked by overt polarization, lack of nuance, and the romanticizing of a mysterious religious sect. Several books have been written about the Hasidic community, both by people who have lived it and left and by outsiders looking in, and most either glorify the lifestyle or demonize it. Trans representation tends to follow a similar path: there is overt sexualization and the casting of transness as mental illness, or idealized representations that focus on victimhood—though, thankfully, that’s starting to change.

I am unaware of another memoir that combines both experiences. My hope is to share all of this with you: the beautiful parts of my childhood—the feelings of safety, belonging, and love that growing up in a religious, even cultish, community can offer—hand in hand with the trauma of discomfort with my body and gender in a gender-segregated society. It was a childhood that helped me to figure out who I am.

My story is my own, but it is also something greater. It is a story about arranged marriages in New York City, about a family of thirteen siblings and more than thirty aunts and uncles, of a family tree with branches as twisted as medieval European royalty. It is a portrait of life in a gender-segregated society nestled within one of the world’s most progressive metropolises.

It is also a simple story of a girl coming of age.

I hope in these pages you will find a portrait of a life that every human being can relate to: the vulnerability and the glory, the frustrations and the revelations, the shedding of one identity and growing into another. No agenda, just my story.



MY PARENTS WERE married in December 1983, and their marriage was soon fruitful. Just ten months after their wedding, my oldest sister, Roiza Hannah Zissel, was born. Eleven months later, my sister Ruchela was born, followed by my closest sister growing up, Esther Gitti, sixteen months after that. Faigy followed in 1988, and my fifth sister, my favorite rival growing up, Hindy, came in the summer of 1990.

In six years, the two became a family of seven, with five children, all girls.

“Everyone pities your father, poor man, he only has girls, and five of them at that!” my mother would joke.

For my father, having only girls was not a source of amusement. In the Hasidic community, having a son is what every new father dreams of and hopes for. A son. The traditional festivities for a newborn boy are especially grand, and a special ceremony is held thirty days after the birth of the firstborn son, when five silver coins are given to a community member who is part of the priestly family to “redeem” the child, an ancient biblical tradition. Joyous celebrating follows, with food and song. There is no similar celebration for a firstborn daughter.

Every Orthodox Jew hopes to have at least one son who will one day recite the traditional mourner’s prayer after his death. And in some rabbinical families—like mine—having a son means securing a continuation of the dynasty.

After five girls, my father was beginning to lose hope, and when my mother became pregnant with a sixth child, he braced himself for another daughter.

A FEW WEEKS after a shadchan suggested a match between my parents, and my four grandparents had agreed it was a good pairing, both sides of the family were ready to proceed with an engagement. It was a beneficial match for everyone. My father was respectably educated in Jewish texts and was said to be a God-fearing boy who was close to finishing his studies in the complicated laws pertaining to food. My mother was beautiful, intelligent, and dedicated, a preschool teacher with a gentle nature. Not only were they both descendants of prestigious royal families, but they carried their heritage with pride; they were dedicated to the family’s royal existence.

Both sets of parents had also agreed to the basic needs of the couple. They would marry in Williamsburg, and my great-grandfather, a beloved rebbe, would officiate at the wedding and the Sabbath following it. They would live in Williamsburg, too. It was even decided that following the marriage, after my mother’s head was shaved, as was the custom, she would cover it with a shpitzel, a silk head covering made of a solid material—as opposed to a lined one that looks remotely like hair—as was the Stein family custom. My father would wear strokes, a long silk- and-velvet coat resembling a graduation gown, a royal rabbinic garment worn by the Meisels family on the Sabbath—or Shabbos, as we called it—as well as on holidays, at family weddings, and during other festive occasions.

All of these details were discussed and negotiated harmoniously—until the engagement became stalled over one final issue: the color of my mother’s tights.

The Meisels girls wore dark beige tights with seams—the seams being an essential feature because they ensured no one would think they were seeing bare skin. In my father’s family, specifically Bobbe Stein’s branch, beige was not considered modest enough, as there was still too great a risk they could be perceived as bare legs. Instead, the Stein girls wore black tights, which they considered more modest.

Bobbe Stein wanted my mother to wear black tights. Bobbe Meisels wasn’t happy about it. That would mean that her married daughter would be dressing in a manner implying that her own family wasn’t modest enough. Bobbe Meisels wore gray tights herself, but her daughters, like most girls in our community, wore beige, with seams.

After much debate, the grandparents reached an impasse, and the outlook for the marriage was not hopeful. Both sides hoped the other would give in.

Finally, Zeide Meisels went to his older brother-in-law, my Feter Avrom Leitner, a revered community scholar and mystic, to consult with him on the matter. Feter Avrom heard the details of the conflict, pondered, and pronounced an equitable compromise: gray was just as modest as black, he told Zeide, and so, instead of wearing beige or black, she should wear gray.

One might think that would have ended the argument. But in the Hasidic community, especially in rabbinic families, community gossip carries more weight than rabbinic declaration, and in this case, the understanding on the street was still that gray tights were less modest.

Still, it was enough to get Bobbe Stein back to the negotiating table. She called Jerusalem to consult her mother, Di Spinke Bobbe, the family matriarch.

“Gray is modest enough,” the Bobbe conceded. “It is not ideal, but if the engagement hinges on it, we can make it work.”

And so an agreement was made. My mother would start wearing gray after the wedding, but it was not to set a precedent; her daughters, and all future daughters-in-law, would wear black.

ON OCTOBER 1, 1991—or, the way I knew it growing up, the 24th of Tishrei in the year 5752—my mother went into labor. It was the final day of the Jewish High Holy Days season, and the last day of a nine-day holiday, Simchas Torah. If any Hasidic mother could choose a day—or, to be more precise, a night—to go into labor, the night following a holiday would be last on the list. After nine days of holiday meals, nine days of not being permitted to wash clothes for a household of seven, including five children under the age of eight, the only thing she would want to do is go home and clean up the mess.

But the mess would have to wait, because in the early afternoon hours on the last day of the holiday, my mother’s water broke. During the final celebration, she dropped off my five older sisters at her parents’ house, and she and my father rushed to Beth Israel Medical Center, just over the Williamsburg Bridge. Adding to the sense of alarm was my early arrival: my mother had always carried her children full-term, but this time, she went into labor three weeks before I was due.

As they rushed my mother into the delivery room, my father’s desire for a boy was stronger than ever. Most men his age were already bringing their small boys to synagogue to sit beside them during prayers and recitation of the Torah. Women and girls came to synagogue, too, but they sat in the women’s section, a separate, smaller area either behind a curtain or in a gallery overlooking the main prayer hall. The practice left my father essentially childless in synagogue. My parents didn’t know if I was a boy or a girl—in our community, it was not the custom to ask about a baby’s gender prior to birth—so all he could do was pray for a son. As is also the custom, he waited outside the delivery room as my mother gave birth, reciting psalms and hoping for the doctor to emerge at any moment and say the words he had waited so long to hear: “It’s a boy!”

Five times previously, he had waited for those words, and five times previously, he had been disappointed.

But that night he got his wish. It was a boy.

A boy!

My father was jubilant, but the celebrations in the hospital were muted. My early birth had its physical consequences, and my kidneys were underdeveloped. Three blood transfusions were necessary, two of them within twenty-four hours of my birth. My parents rushed to secure blood from the community’s Jewish blood bank to prevent the use of “impure” nonreligious blood, or, God forbid, non-Jewish blood. The first transfusion had to be given just hours after birth, however, and the doctors couldn’t wait; they had to use the general blood bank.

Days passed and my health slowly improved, but I wasn’t yet ready to leave the hospital when my mother was discharged. For the first time, after five births with no complications, my mother had to leave the hospital without a lichtige, a shining baby in her arms. My father came to pick her up, and they went to stay with her parents, who lived just around the corner from their apartment in Williamsburg.

My mother waited for me there, sitting in their recliner, weeping and praying.

Days passed and I was still in the neonatal intensive care unit. My mother continued to cry and to pray to God that I would soon be well enough for her to hold me in her arms, that I could come home and grow tall and be wise.

“Perhaps now is the time for you to change to black tights,” her mother-in-law, Bobbe Stein, suggested. “I am sure that your sacrifice, and commitment to modesty, will ensure the baby’s health.”

My mother considered this and then agreed. “All right,” she said. “I promise that if my baby is healthy, I will start wearing black tights.”

A few days later, my parents arrived at the hospital for a visit and were greeted with good news. “After three blood transfusions, your baby’s kidneys are working just fine,” the doctor said. “Tomorrow you will go home with a healthy baby!”

The joy!

Immediately, Tati (my father) began to prepare for the homecoming. A date was set for the ceremonial circumcision, which would be held in Zeide Meisels’ synagogue in Williamsburg. A traditional celebratory meal was held the night before, where we were joined by close family and friends, and another followed the ceremony itself.

Right away, my mother was ready to fulfill her promise and wear only black tights.

However, my mother’s sisters were not happy. “We can’t have one sister dressing more modestly than the rest of us,” they insisted. “What does that say about us?”

Once again, Feter Avrom came to the rescue. Hearing the renewed conflict, he assuaged the whole family, saying that “gray is actually more modest than black.” His reasoning remains unclear. I can only guess that gray tights were considered more modest than black ones because they are uglier, and black is more elegant. Whatever the case, my mother did not change to black.

IN THE HASIDIC community, baby boys aren’t named until their circumcision, which is usually performed on the eighth day of the child’s life, as the Bible commands. Because I’d been sick, my own circumcision was delayed, and so it was that twelve days after I was born, on Sunday morning, I was finally circumcised.

The entire family gathered at the synagogue, dressed in their finest holiday clothes, and Zeide Stein held me as my father gave me my name.

“And let his name be known among Israel as Yisroel Avrom Ben Menachem Mendel,” he declared. My father had named me after his beloved grandfather, a teacher and rebbe. In our family, we simply called him Der Zeide. Der Zeide was Zeide Stein’s father. He was the Stein family patriarch, the one who had replanted the family in Brooklyn after the Holocaust, which had destroyed his home and community in Vyzhnytsia in Western Ukraine.

My parents were happy—they finally had their boy. My father would soon have a son he could take to synagogue, a son to whom he could teach Torah and the family’s customs. The family was finally feeling whole.


  • "Becoming Eve is a powerful, heartfelt account of the often fraught journey toward one's true self. In sharing her story, Abby Chava Stein lights the path for all of us who are embarking on journeys of our own."—TOVA MIRVIS, bestselling author of The Book of Separation, The Ladies Auxiliary, and The Outside World
  • "Becoming Eve is a beautiful, haunting story of self-discovery. Her longing for truth, acceptance, and love will echo in the heart of every reader."—LEAH VINCENT, author of Cut Me Loose: Sin and Salvation After My Ultra-Orthodox Girlhood
  • "Becoming Eve is a powerful, moving story of grappling with both gender and faith. Abby Chava Stein is a compelling storyteller who shows us how to follow the voice within--even when everyone and everything around us is telling us not to."—DANYA RUTTENBERG, author of Surprised By God and Nurture the Wow
  • "'No agenda, just my story,' Abby Stein writes in the prologue to her fascinating memoir. And yet, her book delivers on a very definite agenda: helping us empathize with experiences radically different from our own. With humor and grace-and impressive erudition of Jewish mysticism-Abby Stein grants us entry into a singular, otherworldly capsule: the byzantine world of Hasidic 'royal' families and the Sisyphean pursuit of living an authentic life within it.—SHULEM DEEN, author of All Who Go Do Not Return, winner of the Prix Médicis and the National Jewish Book Award
  • "Abby Stein's soul-searching memoir grabbed me at the epigraph and never let me go. While religion is certainly a central element in the story, Becoming Eve is just as importantly about a different sense of faith: a belief in life's transformative potential to culminate in joy."—SUSAN STRYKER, professor of gender and women's studies, Emmy Award-winning filmmaker, and author of Transgender History: The Roots of Today's Revolution
  • "Becoming Eve is a vivid journey through Abby Stein's formative years in the Ultra-Orthodox Hasidic Jewish community as she struggles to find a more inclusive expression of her faith and learns to embrace her identity as a woman of trans experience."—SARAH VALENTINE, author of When I Was White
  • "Not only is Abby a trailblazer and ridiculously inspiring--she's a really talented writer. Becoming Eve is not to be missed."—
  • "The harrowing and inspiring story of the exploration, discovery, and acceptance of her truth, both body and soul."—Publishers Weekly
  • "Born into an ultra-Orthodox Jewish family, it was always expected that Abby Stein would become a leader in the Hasidic community. But Abby, born a male, knew at a very young age that she identified as a woman. Eventually, she broke free of her community's and family's expectations to become the person she wanted to be."—Parade, ?Memoirs You Need to Be Reading Now?
  • "A transgender woman recounts her evolution from a male-born child in the ultra-Orthodox Hasidic Jewish community to a thriving independent activist in this coming-of-age memoir."—Kirkus
  • "A valuable addition to the body of transgender literature."—Booklist
  • "The book gives readers a frank look at what it was like to come of age misgendered in one of the world's most gender-segregated societies. More so, it's about Stein becoming the woman she is and about her finally being able to embrace Judaism on her terms."—Times of Israel
  • "A frank account of an exceptional life. Stein is a gifted writer, full of grace and compassion."—Jewish Journal

On Sale
Nov 12, 2019
Page Count
272 pages
Seal Press

Abby Stein

About the Author

Abby Stein is the tenth-generation descendant of the Baal Shem Tov, the founder of the Hasidic movement. In 2015, Stein came out as a woman, and she now works as a trans activist. In 2019, she served on the steering committee for the Women’s March in Washington, DC, and she was named by the Jewish Week as one of the “36 Under 36” Jews who are affecting change in the world. She lives in New York City.

Learn more about this author