His­tor­i­cal Atlas of Hasidism

Marcin Wodz­ińs­ki

December 18, 2018

His­tor­i­cal Atlas of Hasidism is the very first car­to­graph­ic ref­er­ence book on one of the mod­ern era’s most vibrant and impor­tant mys­ti­cal move­ments. Fea­tur­ing sev­en­ty-four large-for­mat maps and a wealth of illus­tra­tions, charts, and tables, this one-of-a-kind atlas charts Hasidis­m’s emer­gence and expan­sion; its dynas­ties, courts, and prayer hous­es; its spread to the New World; the cri­sis of the two world wars and the Holo­caust; and Hasidis­m’s remark­able post­war rebirth.

His­tor­i­cal Atlas of Hasidism demon­strates how geog­ra­phy has influ­enced not only the social orga­ni­za­tion of Hasidism but also its spir­i­tu­al life, types of reli­gious lead­er­ship, and cul­tur­al artic­u­la­tion. It focus­es not only on Hasidic lead­ers but also on their thou­sands of fol­low­ers liv­ing far from Hasidic cen­ters. It exam­ines Hasidism in its his­tor­i­cal entire­ty, from its begin­nings in the eigh­teenth cen­tu­ry until today, and draws on exten­sive GIS-processed data­bas­es of his­tor­i­cal and con­tem­po­rary records to present the most com­plete pic­ture yet of this thriv­ing and diverse reli­gious movement.

His­tor­i­cal Atlas of Hasidism is visu­al­ly stun­ning and easy to use, a mag­nif­i­cent resource for any­one seek­ing to under­stand Hasidis­m’s spa­tial and spir­i­tu­al dimen­sions, or indeed any­body inter­est­ed in geo­gra­phies of reli­gious move­ments past and present.

  • Pro­vides the first car­to­graph­ic inter­pre­ta­tion of Hasidism
  • Fea­tures sev­en­ty-four maps and numer­ous illustrations
  • Cov­ers Hasidism in its his­tor­i­cal entire­ty, from its eigh­teenth-cen­tu­ry ori­gins to today
  • Charts Hasidis­m’s emer­gence and expan­sion, courts and prayer hous­es, mod­ern resur­gence, and much more
  • Offers the first in-depth analy­sis of Hasidis­m’s egalitarian―not elitist―dimensions
  • Draws on exten­sive GIS-processed data­bas­es of his­tor­i­cal and con­tem­po­rary records

Discussion Questions

The aca­d­e­m­ic study of Hasidism has, over the past cen­tu­ry, pro­duced a volu­mi­nous col­lec­tion of books — works that explore the his­to­ries, biogra­phies, the­olo­gies, and pol­i­tics of par­tic­u­lar lead­ers and sects, as well as of the move­ment as a whole. Marcin Wodzin­s­ki, pro­fes­sor of Jew­ish Stud­ies at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Wrocław in Poland has brought a new, more vis­cer­al dimen­sion to the study of Hasidism. Togeth­er with car­tog­ra­ph­er Walde­mar Spallek, Wodzin­s­ki stud­ies this rev­o­lu­tion­ary move­ment from a geo­graph­i­cal per­spec­tive. While pre­vi­ous stud­ies have explored the ori­gins of the move­ment, the social orga­ni­za­tion of the Hasidic com­mu­ni­ty, inter­nal pol­i­tics or the role of the tzad­dik, this geo­graph­i­cal approach opens the read­er to the explo­ration of the rela­tion­ship between space and spir­it, and the demo­graph­ic expan­sions and shifts of Hasidic com­mu­ni­ties with a focus on the rank and file,” and the thou­sands of Hasidim in hun­dreds of com­mu­ni­ties across East­ern Europe, North Amer­i­ca, and Israel.

With sev­en­ty-four acces­si­ble and inno­v­a­tive maps, hun­dreds of pho­tographs, charts, and tables, and a well-orga­nized text, Wodzin­s­ki and Spallek are able to show Hasidism in its his­tor­i­cal entire­ty,” from the mid-eigh­teenth cen­tu­ry until today. By map­ping the geo­graph­ic shifts and demo­graph­ic expan­sions, the book offers unique insight into the rela­tion­ship between loca­tion, dis­tinct types of reli­gious lead­er­ship, and unique forms of cul­tur­al expres­sion. This study also uses the record­ed data of over 100,000 Hasidic house­holds to fur­ther let the read­er in to the lived expe­ri­ence of Hasidim through the centuries.

This rich, superbly researched, and inno­v­a­tive text will be of enor­mous inter­est to the layper­son and schol­ar alike. It is trail­blaz­ing — a must for any­one inter­est­ed in attain­ing a deep­er under­stand­ing of Hasidism.