Page 100 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 33

Basic HTML Version

Gur dynasty, found their way back to the tried paths of the
Baal Shem.
Two titles,
The Hasidic Community of W illiamsburg,
by Solo­
mon Poll (New York, Free Press of Glencoe, 1962) and
mar: An Island in the City,
by Israel Rubin (New York, Quad­
rangle, 1972) describe Hasidic communities which emerged in
Metropolitan New York in the postwar era. Both apply specific
research methods from sociological sciences, such as personal
and group interviews, analysis of statistical data, analysis of
folklore, etc. Primary, if not exclusive, attention is focused in
these works on social problems of the respective communities—
economics, social stratification, challenges to self-segregated pop-
ulational enclaves, relationship to non-Jewish neighbors and a
host of related issues. Of particular concern is the question of
survival which hinges upon the degree of a given group’s success
or failure to withstand the demands of acculturation. Certain
deviations from patterns in prewar Eastern Europe are already
discernable, e.g. the inability, or impracticability, of the male
head of a household to devote himself exclusively to learning.
He must engage, full time, in gainful occupation and cannot
relegate the responsibility to his spouse. Other matters in trude
and cause concern. T he situation seems to be in flux. Any
prognostication with regard to the future image or character of
these communities is premature.
In line with the sociological approach, Jerome R. Mintz pre­
sents in
Legends of the Hasidim: An In troduction to Hasidic
Culture and Oral T rad ition in the New World
(Chicago, T he
University of Chicago Press, 1968) a systematic analytical study
of tales, legends, parables and humorous anecdotes. He assembled
this material among followers of some forty Hasidic “courts” in
the New York area, and uses it as background resource for a
spectrum of Hasidic life and culture. Admittedly, there are some
omissions in the picture. I t is noteworthy tha t subtle idiomatic
nuances of the original Yiddish are beautifully preserved in the
In conclusion, much material dealing with mysticism and
Hasidism has been appearing in various journals in essay form.