Page 326 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 51

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JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
JEW ISH FOLKLORE AND ANTHROPOLOGY
T h e R a p h a e l P a t a i A w a r d
Hasidic People: A Place in the New World,
by Jerome R. Mintz
(Harvard University Press)
Hasidic People
is a meticulous and sensitive urban ethnography
of a traditional East European Jewish sect, transplanted onto
American soil, where members of its several subgroups have
been and continue to be challenged by a complex heteroethnic
and heterosocial environment. Mintz’s description focuses on
Hasidim as people negotiating their lives between religious rules
and the lure of the secular world; between social expectations
and personal desires. He does not limit himself to the larger,
better-known Hasidic communities, but in a pioneering manner
treats many of the smaller and less well-studied groups. Mintz
brilliantly presents Hasidic culture as a patchwork quilt of in­
dividual lives, subduing his own analytical voice and letting the
Hasidic people tell the stories of their lives in their own words.
JEW ISH HISTORY
T h e G e r r a r d a n d E l l a B e rm a n A w a r d
Jews in Christian America: The Pursuit of Religious Equality,
by Na­
omi W. Cohen (Oxford University Press)
Spanning the entire history of the Republic,
Jews in Christian
America,
by Naomi W. Cohen, offers an elegant and sophisti­
cated interpretation of how American Jews shored up the wall
separating church and state as a means of insuring their own
equality. In the course of this ongoing struggle, Jews have
played a critical role in shaping American principles. By exam­
ining the Jewish experience in America through the prism of
church/state issues, Cohen provides a unique perspective to as­
sess the place of Jews in American society and indeed America’s
continuing efforts to define itself.
JEW ISH THOUGHT
D o n o r A n o n y m o u s
Women as Ritual Experts: The Religious Lives of Elderly Jewish Wom­
en in Jerusalem,
by Susan Starr Sered (Oxford University Press)
Women as Ritual Experts
by Susan Starr Sered is a major con­