Mitzvah Girls: Bringing Up The Next Generation of Hasidic Jews in Brooklyn

Princeton University Press  2009


This fascinating work by a modern liberal Jewish anthropologist explores daily life in the closed Hassidic community of Boro Park, Brooklyn. Dr. Ayala Fader, associate professor of anthropology at Fordham University, focuses on young Hassidic women, for it is they who will “bear and rear the next generation.”

She surveyed an array of generally unfamiliar subject matter, including the values of Hasidic femininity; the intricacies of Hasidic linguistics (e.g., two variation of Yiddish, one that girls speak to friends to fit in and another that they speak to older folks); the hierarchies of pious modesty; defiance of Hasidic young women; and how the standards of women’s modesty are established by male religious leadership.

The work maintains a scholarly character and possesses the intellectual nature of a scientific exploration, while remaining a pleasurable casual read. This is because throughout the volume, the author elaborated upon her interactions and her warm personal experiences with members of the community she was investigating. 2009 National Jewish Book Award Winner in Women’s Studies.

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