A Life Apart - Hasidism in America A Hasidic Boy

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  • Additional Essays on Hasidism


    The picture of the Hasidim as members of a homogeneous closed community, people of one mind who turn their backs on the modern world, is inaccurate. There are deep differences between different groups of Hasidim, and great individual variety within each group. In addition, the doctrine of separation, of self-protection from contamination from the outside society, exists side by side with the Jewish, yet particularly Hasidic notion of sanctifying the profane. This creates the possibility of "elevating" and absorbing outside influence, adopting and adapting everything from a secular love tune to "beepers" and baseball into the service of piety.

    Also, American Hasidim have been Americanized in their particular way. As our advisor, Professor George Kranzler points out:

    Hasidic life in the United States is not totally "A Life Apart." To some degree it has assumed characteristics that qualify it as "American." In contrast to the Amish, for example, the isolation of the Satmar Hasidim is only "sociocultural," but the spirit of the younger American-born Hasidim, their economic adjustment, particularly their "entrepreneurship," is quintessentially American.

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