Becoming Un-Orthodox: Stories of Ex-Hasidic Jews

Hardcover | November 4, 2014

byLynn Davidman

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Leaving a religion is not merely a matter of losing or rejecting faith. For many, it involves dramatic changes of everyday routines and personal habits. Davidman bases her analysis on in-depth conversations with forty ex-Hasidic individuals. From these conversations emerge accounts of the great fear, angst, and sense of danger that come of leaving a highly bounded enclave community. Many of those interviewed spoke of feeling marginal in their owncommunities; of strain in their homes due to death, divorce, or their parents' profound religious differences; experienced sexual, physical, or verbal abuse; or expressed an acute awareness of gender inequality, the dissimilar lives of their secular relatives, and forbidden television shows, movies,websites, and books. Becoming Un-Orthodox draws much-needed attention to the vital role of the body and bodily behavior in religious practices. It is through physical rituals and routines that the members of a religion, particularly a highly conservative one, constantly create, perform, and reinforce the culture of thereligion. Because of the many observances and daily rituals required by their faith, Hasidic defectors are an exemplary case study for exploring the centrality of the body in shaping, maintaining, and shedding religions. This book provides both a moving narrative of the struggles of Hasidic defectors and a compelling call for greater collective understanding of the complex significance of the body in society.

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Leaving a religion is not merely a matter of losing or rejecting faith. For many, it involves dramatic changes of everyday routines and personal habits. Davidman bases her analysis on in-depth conversations with forty ex-Hasidic individuals. From these conversations emerge accounts of the great fear, angst, and sense of danger that com...

Lynn Davidman is the Beren Distinguished Professor of Modern Jewish Studies at the University of Kansas. She is the author of Tradition in a Rootless World, which won a National Jewish Book Award, Motherloss, and Feminist Perspectives in Jewish Studies, co-edited with Shelly Tenenbaum. Her research has appeared in such journals as Soc...

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:272 pages, 9.25 × 6.12 × 0.98 inPublished:November 4, 2014Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199380503

ISBN - 13:9780199380503

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Table of Contents

Preface1. Introduction - Haredi Life: The Metanarrative and Religious Bodily Practices2. Tears in the Sacred Canopy3. First Transgressions4. Passing5. SteppingConclusion - You Can't Turn Off Your PastNotesReferencesIndex

Editorial Reviews

"A learned, imaginative study of defectors from Orthodox Jewish communities; Davidman's analysis of identity narratives and the process of transformation is original and provocative." --Joyce Antler, Samuel Lane Professor of American Jewish History and Culture, Brandeis University