Rethinking Secularization Theory: The Case of the Hasidic Public Square

By David Myers, Nomi Stolzenberg

Association for Jewish Studies (AJS), Spring 2011

The authors describe their exploration of the community of Kiryas Joel, a legally recognized municipality about fifty miles northwest of New York City composed almost entirely of Satmar Hasidic Jews. This exploration has been undertaken through the combined lenses of Jewish history, legal theory, and American law. Kiryas Joel operates according to a strict code of halakhic observance and modesty norms. Total social segregation from the surrounding towns and villages of Orange County is considered essential to the preservation of the community.  How and why did this community, whose founders referred to it repeatedly as a shtetl, take rise on American soil? Inasmuch as Kiryas Joel is a community that brooks little dissent or deviation from the norms enunciated by its religious leaders, it fits into this tradition of illiberal religious groups in the history of American religious sectarianism.

Topic: History, Sectarianism, Law, Haredi (Ultra-Orthodox) Judaism, Hasidism, Segregation, Secularism

Name of Publication: AJS Perspectives: The Magazine of the Association for Jewish Studies

Editor: Bunzl, Matti , Havrelock, Rachel

Volume/Issue: Spring 2011

Page Number(s): 37-38

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Genre: Article

Coverage: Kiryas Joel, New York , United States

Language: English

Copyright Holder: Publisher

Copyright Information: Download for personal use, freely distribute link

Bibliographic Information:
Myers, David. Stolzenberg, Nomi. Rethinking Secularization Theory: The Case of the Hasidic Public Square. AJS Perspectives: The Magazine of the Association for Jewish Studies. Association for Jewish Studies (AJS). Spring 2011: 37-38. http://www.bjpa.org/Publications/details.cfm?PublicationID=12015


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