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Editorial Reviews. From Publishers Weekly. This absorbing ethnography acts as one Mystics, Mavericks, and Merrymakers: An Intimate Journey among Hasidic Girls - Kindle edition by Stephanie Wellen Levine, Carol Gilligan. Download it.
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Mitzvah Girls is the first book about bringing up Hasidic Jewish girls in North America, providing an in-depth look into a closed community. Ayala Fader examines language, gender, and the body from infancy to adulthood, showing how Hasidic girls in Brooklyn become women responsible for rearing the next generation of nonliberal Jewish believers. To uncover how girls learn the practices of Hasidic Judaism, Fader looks beyond the synagogue to everyday talk in the context of homes, classrooms, and city streets.

Levine, Stephanie Wellen.


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New York University Press, Mystics, Mavericks, and Merrymakers includes over thirty exclusive interviews with young Hasidic women transitioning from their teenage years to adulthood. While some of the girls are rebels, others strive for higher education and successful careers while remaining rooted in their faith community. Stern, Jane. Crown Publishing Group, Jane Stern began her second career as an emergency medical technician late in life.

For years, she had battled panic attacks, depression, and hypochondria. While her plane was grounded at the Minneapolis airport for 6 hours, she was able to help a young man experiencing a health crisis.

This small but satisfying act of helping someone else led her to EMT training. Stern shares her on-the-job experiences which often included emotional and physical challenges. Through all of her hard work, Jane eventually becomes the first woman officer of her department. Zipora, Malka. Rather Laugh than Cry is a glimpse into the daily life of a contemporary Hassidic woman living in a large urban setting.

Is Levine saying that the very presence of men is oppressive, that women can realize themselves only in an environment where there is sexual segration? Perhaps she is. If so, what would she say about the world described in, say, The Cairo Trilogy by the Egyptian Nobel laureate Naguib Mahfouz, where the mother, Amina, who married before she was fourteen, was in effect an exploited servant who wasn't allowed to leave her house?

What would she say about the real-world situation of women under the rule of the Taliban in Afghanistan, where women could never get medical care at all; they could neither be treated by a male doctor, who would not be allowed to look at or touch a woman he wasn't married to, nor by a female, since women weren't allowed to practice medicine. The United States Supreme Court, in , ruled that segregated schools were inherently unequal.

They were deciding a case about race and not gender. Segregation in the Lubavitcher community, and perhaps among all ultra-Orthodox Jews, is not meant to be oppressive. Levine tells us that "Lubavitch ideology emphasizes that women's job of caring for the home is holier than study" p. Lubavitcher girls, for the most part, agree with Levine.


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When I asked one of these young women to consider what her life would be like if she were a boy,, her response was unequivocal: ' Baruch Hashem [thank God] I'm a girl. I don't know how boys stand being in school so long'" p.

Mystery of the Sacred Feminine: Sexuality and the Sacred

Levine's impression of Lubavitcher young women coincides with my own. For eight summers, , my family and I rented summer bungalows to a group of Lubavitcher Hasidim.

An Intimate Journey among Hasidic Girls

We found them very pleasant and open people. There were some teenage girls who spent the summers there; the teenage boys, on the other hand, spent the summers studying elsewhere, although they came to the bungalows at the beginning and end of the summer, before and after their classes.

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Levine, Stephanie Wellen 1968-

The girls were poised, spontaneous in their behavior, and for the most part, very beautiful. The girls spoke English among themselves; the boys spoke Yiddish. Reprinted in Never Say Die! Fishman, ed. The proof of the pudding is in the eating. Lubavitcher young women are indeed livelier and more worldly, linguistically and otherwise, than Lubavitcher young men. Nevertheless, I don't agree with the unlikely feminist-plus-Orthodox coalition that argues for separation of the sexes.

Traditional Judaism, unlike other traditional systems of value, has no place for machismo. Men are admired if they are learned, thoughtful, and good at arguing. Even among Jews who are not Orthodox, toughness and bullying are scorned as alien as well as objectively counterproductive. Hasidism restricts the lives of men and women in different ways; it can be argued that Lubavitcher boys are more oppressed than Lubavitcher girls. The cheerfulness and intellectuality of Lubavitcher girls does not disprove the argument that segregation is inherently unequal. It merely indicates that the inequality works in favor of the girls.

In a world where men and women lead different, separate lives, it is not easy for a woman to study the lives and views of men.

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Although Levine cites the young woman mentioned above who said, "I don't know how boys stand being in school so long," she doesn't seem interested exploring the contrasts and possible similarities between the lives of the girls and the boys. Levine's discussions of the girls who are the subjects of her research suffers from the lack of information relating to the boys.


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We would understand the girls better if we understood the boys a little more than we do. Despite this lack, Levine's descriptions of the girls agree with my own impressions of the Lubavitcher tenants at my bungalow colony years ago. In other respects, however, the Lubavitchers have changed considerably since , the last summer that I spent with them.

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Two things have occurred: First, the Russian-speaking women who used to be members of the mothers' generation now belong to the grandmothers' generation. The English-speaking teenagers I knew are now mothers themselves. Second, the revered spiritual leader of the community, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the Rebbe, has died.

A split has arisen between those Lubavitchers who believe that the Rebbe is the Messiah and will return and those who do not hold any such belief. There is no Jewish tradition of total allegiance to a human being, nor is there a Jewish precedent of a leader who returns from the dead; nevertheless, a majority of the Lubavitchers seem to believe that the Rebbe will be resurrected see David Berger's "The Rebbe, the Jews, and the Messiah," Commentary , September , pp.

I used to look upon the Lubavitchers as basically mainstream Orthodox Jews. The belief that the Rebbe is the Messiah separates Lubavitch from the mainstream. So does the aging of the generation that was educated in Soviet public schools. The Lubavitchers of the parents' generation whom I had known loved Tolstoy and Tchaikovsky.

No doubt they still do.