Mitz­vah Girls: Bring­ing Up The Next Gen­er­a­tion of Hasidic Jews in Brooklyn

Ayala Fad­er
  • Review
By – September 19, 2011

This fas­ci­nat­ing work by a mod­ern lib­er­al Jew­ish anthro­pol­o­gist explores dai­ly life in the closed Has­sidic com­mu­ni­ty of Boro Park, Brook­lyn. Dr. Ayala Fad­er, asso­ciate pro­fes­sor of anthro­pol­o­gy at Ford­ham Uni­ver­si­ty, focus­es on young Has­sidic women, for it is they who will bear and rear the next generation.” 

She sur­veyed an array of gen­er­al­ly unfa­mil­iar sub­ject mat­ter, includ­ing the val­ues of Hasidic fem­i­nin­i­ty; the intri­ca­cies of Hasidic lin­guis­tics (e.g., two vari­a­tion of Yid­dish, one that girls speak to friends to fit in and anoth­er that they speak to old­er folks); the hier­ar­chies of pious mod­esty; defi­ance of Hasidic young women; and how the stan­dards of women’s mod­esty are estab­lished by male reli­gious leadership. 

The work main­tains a schol­ar­ly char­ac­ter and pos­sess­es the intel­lec­tu­al nature of a sci­en­tif­ic explo­ration, while remain­ing a plea­sur­able casu­al read. This is because through­out the vol­ume, the author elab­o­rat­ed upon her inter­ac­tions and her warm per­son­al expe­ri­ences with mem­bers of the com­mu­ni­ty she was inves­ti­gat­ing. 2009 Nation­al Jew­ish Book Award Win­ner in Women’s Studies.

Shelo­mo Alfas­sa is a writer and his­to­ri­an who research­es the Jews of Iberia and the Ottoman Empire. He is based at the Cen­ter for Jew­ish His­to­ry in New York City where he over­sees Spe­cial Projects for the Amer­i­can Sephar­di Fed­er­a­tion.’ He has writ­ten sev­er­al books includ­ing, A Win­dow Into Old Jerusalem and The Sephardic Anousim. He can be reached at: shelomo@​alfassa.​com.

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