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Writers' League of Texas Discovery Award Wordwrite Award Finalist: Pirate's Alley Faulkner Prize, May Sarton Award, Independent Publisher Book Award, Chautauqua Prize a Redbook Magazine and Good Housekeeping Best of the Year Houston Chronicle #1 Pick Uncovered is the first memoir to tell of a gay woman leaving the Hasidic fold. Told in understated, crystalline prose, Lax begins her story as a young teen leaving her liberal, secular home to become a Hasidic Jew, then plumbs the nuances of her arranged marriage, fundamentalist faith, and Hasidic motherhood, as her creative, sexual, and spiritual longings shimmer beneath the surface.
A naive lesbian teen in Texas is drawn into a group of Hassidic Jews with their offers of refuge from her troubled family and promises of eternal love. She becomes one of them, but ultimately, as a forty-something woman, comes to reject everything she has lived for three decades in order to be who she truly is."
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. Hasidic women complicate stereotypes of nonliberal religious women by collapsing distinctions between the religious and the secular. In this innovative book, Fader demonstrates that contemporary Hasidic femininity requires women and girls to engage with the secular world around them, protecting Hasidic men and boys who study the Torah. Even as Hasidic religious observance has become more stringent, Hasidic girls have unexpectedly become more fluent in secular modernity. They are fluent Yiddish speakers but switch to English as they grow older; they are increasingly modest but also fashionable; they read fiction and play games like those of mainstream American children but theirs have Orthodox Jewish messages; and they attend private Hasidic schools that freely adapt from North American public and parochial models. Investigating how Hasidic women and girls conceptualize the religious, the secular, and the modern, Mitzvah Girls offers exciting new insights into cultural production and change in nonliberal religious communities.
A beloved contemporary classic, Holy Days is a personal account of New York's Hasidic community, its beliefs, its mysteries, and its encounter with secularism in the present age. Combining a historical understanding of the Hasidic movement with a journalist's discerning eye, Harris captures in rich detail the day-to-day life of this traditional and often misunderstood community. Harris chronicles the personal transformation she experienced as she grew closer to the largely hidden men and women of the Hasidic world.
Inside the closed community of Borough Park, where most Chassidim live, the rules of life are very clear, determined by an ancient script written thousands of years before down to the last detail-and abuse has never been a part of it. But when thirteen-year-old Gittel learns of the abuse her best friend has suffered at the hands of her own family member, the adults in her community try to persuade Gittel, and themselves, that nothing happened. Forced to remain silent, Gittel begins to question everything she was raised to believe. A richly detailed and nuanced book, one of both humor and depth, understanding and horror, this story explains a complex world that remains an echo of its past, and illuminates the conflict between yesterday's traditions and today's reality.
Collects first-person accounts of Orthodox Jewish lesbians trying to reconcile their commitment to their faith with their sexuality, telling the stories of those who have come out, those still in the closet and those living double lives. Original.
Honorable Mention in the 2012 Casey Medals for Meritorious Journalism When Hella Winston began talking with Hasidic Jews for her doctoral dissertation in sociology, she was excited to be meeting members of the highly insular Satmar sect. While several Jewish journalists and scholars have produced largely admiring books describing the Lubavitch way of life and that group's outreach efforts to unaffiliated Jews, very little has been written about the many other Hasidic sects in the United States. Unlike Lubavitchers, members of these other groups are raised to avoid all unnecessary contact with outside society, including contact with other Jews. Winston's access was all but unprecedented. As a nonobservant Jew with little prior exposure to the Hasidic world, she never could have guessed what would happen next-that she would be introduced, slowly and covertly, to Hasidim from Satmar and other sects who were deeply unhappy with their highly restrictive way of life and sometimes desperately struggling to leave their communities. First there was Yossi, a young man who, though deeply attached to the Hasidic culture in which he was raised, longed for a life with fewer restrictions and more tolerance. Yossi's efforts at making such a life, however, were being severely hampered by his fourth grade English and math skills, his profound ignorance of the ways of the outside world, and the looming threat that pursuing his desires would almost certainly lead to rejection by his family and friends. Then she met Dini, a young wife and mother whose decision to deviate even slightly from Hasidic standards of modesty led to threatening phone calls from anonymous men, warning her that she needed to watch the way she was dressing if she wanted to remain a part of the community. Someone else introduced Winston to Steinmetz, a closet bibliophile worked in a small Judaica store in his community and spent his days off anxiously evading discovery in the library of the Conservative Jewish Theological Seminary, whose shelves contain non-Hasidic books he is forbidden to read but nonetheless devours, often several at a sitting. There were others still who had actually made the wrenching decision to leave their communities altogether. Already called a "must read" by Hasidic blogger "Shtreimel," Unchosen tells the fascinating stories of these and other rebel Hasidim, serious questioners who long for greater personal and intellectual freedom than their communities allow. In so doing, Unchosen forces us to reexamine the history of these communities and asks us to consider what we choose not to see when we romanticize them. From the Hardcover edition.

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