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The Rebirth of Hasidism: 1945 to the Present Day

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In 1945, there were 20,000 Hasidim in the world. Today there are between 350,000 and 400,000, about half of whom are living in Israel. This represents a population explosion that cannot be explained in ordinary demographic terms. Jacques Gutwirth gives a vivid portrait of the major Hasidic centers-from Antwerp to New York and from Jerusalem and Bene Brraq to Paris. He desc In 1945, there were 20,000 Hasidim in the world. Today there are between 350,000 and 400,000, about half of whom are living in Israel. This represents a population explosion that cannot be explained in ordinary demographic terms. Jacques Gutwirth gives a vivid portrait of the major Hasidic centers-from Antwerp to New York and from Jerusalem and Bene Brraq to Paris. He describes the main characteristics of Hasidism today, as well as its contributions to spiritual and intellectual life, and recent developments in its history and its influence worldwide. Hasidism is a phenomenon that goes beyond any particular religious conception or lifestyle. Its rapid development is linked with contemporary politics and global economics, to which it contributes in turn. In this rigorous and balanced analysis of one of the most dynamic communities in Judaism, the author brings his knowledge to bear on a wealth of previously unpublished information that will inspire further discussion concerning the return of the religious life in relation to its social and political context.


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In 1945, there were 20,000 Hasidim in the world. Today there are between 350,000 and 400,000, about half of whom are living in Israel. This represents a population explosion that cannot be explained in ordinary demographic terms. Jacques Gutwirth gives a vivid portrait of the major Hasidic centers-from Antwerp to New York and from Jerusalem and Bene Brraq to Paris. He desc In 1945, there were 20,000 Hasidim in the world. Today there are between 350,000 and 400,000, about half of whom are living in Israel. This represents a population explosion that cannot be explained in ordinary demographic terms. Jacques Gutwirth gives a vivid portrait of the major Hasidic centers-from Antwerp to New York and from Jerusalem and Bene Brraq to Paris. He describes the main characteristics of Hasidism today, as well as its contributions to spiritual and intellectual life, and recent developments in its history and its influence worldwide. Hasidism is a phenomenon that goes beyond any particular religious conception or lifestyle. Its rapid development is linked with contemporary politics and global economics, to which it contributes in turn. In this rigorous and balanced analysis of one of the most dynamic communities in Judaism, the author brings his knowledge to bear on a wealth of previously unpublished information that will inspire further discussion concerning the return of the religious life in relation to its social and political context.

9 review for The Rebirth of Hasidism: 1945 to the Present Day

  1. 4 out of 5

    Frieda Vizel

    An anthropological study on Modern Hasidism (published 2005) with many facts and figures on population, economy, growth trends, surveys and major events. Although I cannot vouch for the accuracy of all of it, the parts I already knew about were done well enough. The monumental task of summarizing major Hasidic dynasties (from their historical origin) means that the book is uneven at times and does not come close to covering everything. The way the book was organized by geographic location was ea An anthropological study on Modern Hasidism (published 2005) with many facts and figures on population, economy, growth trends, surveys and major events. Although I cannot vouch for the accuracy of all of it, the parts I already knew about were done well enough. The monumental task of summarizing major Hasidic dynasties (from their historical origin) means that the book is uneven at times and does not come close to covering everything. The way the book was organized by geographic location was easy to follow, but at times strange. Antwerp took up the full first chapter and France was the last chapter. Nothing on Canada or London, South America or Australia! This is a good book to reference in the event you need to look up information on a specific Hasidic dynasty. It book covers the following (organized in the book as summarized here): 1. A brief history of Hasidism (some 10 pages) in which the author begins with the Besht and summarizes major historical shifts. He used a variation of the historian Dubnow’s 5 stage periodization (1. 1740-1782 Best, 2. 1782-1815 Hasidim vs. Misnagdim, 3. 1815-1870 cult of rabbi and Hasidim vs. Haskalah, 4. 1870-1945 decline, 5. 1945-p rebirth) and focuses the book on the fifth and last stage: 1945-to present day. 2. The development of Hasidic life in Antwerp which was a staging post for many Hasidim after WWII. He covers the presence of the dynasties of Belz, Satmar, Visnitz and the economic opportunities in the diamond sector that helped them prosper. He also discusses the birth of a new post war dynasty, the Przeworske. 3.The Satmar dynasty, its founder in America Joel Teitelbaum, Williamsburg, his village Kiryas Joel. 4.Borough Park, the more “modern” Hasidic hub, twenty-something dynasties, Bobov – the liberal Hasidim who provide the model for Borough Park Hasidim, Shlomo Halberstam as a benevolent and charismatic man. 5. Crown Heights, the Chabad Lubavich history from its founding rabbi the Tanya to Menahem Mendel Shneersohn, the “Messiah”. A most widely distributed movement without a rebbe. 6. Jerusalem: Mae Sharim. A brief sketch of Netura Karte and the dynasties Breslev Toldes Aharon Belz Gur 7. Bnei Berak, 85% men in black. The history of Vishnitz 8. Lubavich in France and the Sephardim from North Africa they reached out to, what he calls the “Sephardization” of the Lubavich movement. 9. A sociological overview of contemporary Hasidism. Since the author includes the very different Chabad movement in the criteria of contemporary Hasidism, his subject becomes too broad for his analysis to be useful.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Michael Lewyn

    a brief guide to the major Hasidic sects- where they live and what they stand for. It doesn't add too much to my knowledge of the sects best known in the United States; however, I learned a bit about communities in the rest of the world (especially France and Antwerp, places Americans don't always associate with thriving Jewish communities; Chabad is highly active in France, while Antwerp is full of Hasidim of various types). I also learned how new much of Hasidism is; though some Hasidic sects a brief guide to the major Hasidic sects- where they live and what they stand for. It doesn't add too much to my knowledge of the sects best known in the United States; however, I learned a bit about communities in the rest of the world (especially France and Antwerp, places Americans don't always associate with thriving Jewish communities; Chabad is highly active in France, while Antwerp is full of Hasidim of various types). I also learned how new much of Hasidism is; though some Hasidic sects are 200-year-old dynasties, others are the result of one charismatic rabbi who started with nothing at the end of World War II.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jeffrey

  4. 4 out of 5

    Julia Walsh

  5. 4 out of 5

    Raada Mohamed

  6. 5 out of 5

    Gabi

  7. 4 out of 5

    James Ingram

  8. 5 out of 5

    Dearbhla

  9. 5 out of 5

    Krzysiek (Chris)

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