Ortho­dox By Design: Judaism, Print Pol­i­tics, and the Art Scroll Revolution

Jere­my Stolow
  • Review
By – August 31, 2011
In Ortho­dox by Design: Judaism, Print Pol­i­tics, and the Art Scroll Rev­o­lu­tion, Jere­my Stolow ana­lyt­i­cal­ly and assid­u­ous­ly plots the devel­op­ment and the amaz­ing suc­cess of the non-prof­it Meso­rah Foun­da­tion, the pub­lish­er of ArtScroll texts. Over one mil­lion copies of the ArtScroll Sid­dur have been sold. It comes in thir­ty dis­tinct edi­tions” includ­ing translit­er­at­ed, bilin­gual, and large print ver­sions, cre­at­ed with the inten­tion of reach­ing a wide range of con­stituen­cies, includ­ing non-Ortho­dox Jews. Accord­ing to Stolow, Artscroll pub­li­ca­tions have two objec­tives— to pop­u­lar­ize and to autho­rize” the Hare­di” or Torah True” inter­pre­ta­tion of Jew­ish texts as the authen­tic ver­sion of Jew­ish reli­gious prac­tice.

The book is filled with fas­ci­nat­ing details of the work­ings of the Meso­rah Foun­da­tion and the lines of devel­op­ment of the Hare­di move­ment and its increas­ing role in shap­ing Jew­ish life in the Unit­ed States and Israel. For some read­ers, the aca­d­e­m­ic writ­ing may be off-putting, but I sus­pect the sto­ry of ArtScroll will keep many read­ers enthralled. End­notes, illus­tra­tions, index, select bibliography.
Car­ol Poll, Ph.D., is the retired Chair of the Social Sci­ences Depart­ment and Pro­fes­sor of Soci­ol­o­gy at the Fash­ion Insti­tute of Tech­nol­o­gy of the State Uni­ver­si­ty of New York. Her areas of inter­est include the soci­ol­o­gy of race and eth­nic rela­tions, the soci­ol­o­gy of mar­riage, fam­i­ly and gen­der roles and the soci­ol­o­gy of Jews.

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