Holy Days: The World Of The Hasidic Family

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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.
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Editorial Reviews

Jewish Book World
A personal encounter with the lives of several members of the Lubavitch Hasidic community. The book deals with the customs and is an admiring portrait of their way of life.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Hasidism, the Jewish revivalist movement begun in 18th century Poland, encourages prayer, mysticism, singing and sanctification of daily life. The Lubavitchers, the largest of some 40 Hasidic sects, today live mostly in Brooklyn's Crown Heights. There Harris befriended a Lubavitcher couple and penetrated a sect known for its strict adherence to Old World customs, its deep suspicion of outsiders and secretiveness. To some, the Lubavitchers seem frozen in the past; to Harris, a sympathetic observer, they ``live in a kind of perpetual Biblical present'' by linking everyday events in their personal lives to a spiritual heritage that is very much alive. Appropriately, Harris shifts back and forth in time, from the Crown Heights household where she was for years a regular visitor, to the exploits of Israel ben Eliezer, founder of Hasidism, and other Eastern European wise men who were inspired by kabbalistic teachings. This work of cultural anthropology helps readers to understand the Lubavitchers while gaining respect for their carefully guarded traditions. First serial to the New Yorker; Jewish Book Club main selection. November
Library Journal
The author is a staff writer for the New Yorker who approached a family of the Lubavitcher sect with the purpose of writing about their holidays, everyday observances, and place in the commu nity. The result of her year-long effort is a warm, informative, highly readable book (the material was serialized Sep tember 1985 in the New Yorker) . Harris joins the Konigsberg family in Crown Heights at Purim and returns for every major and minor holiday, and of course for many a weekly Shabbat. But we get much more than just Holy Days from her: there are also lucid descriptions and explanations of rituals for all family events (with death getting only a pass ing mention) and we learn a great deal about the history of the Lubavitch movement and its leaders, its relation ship to other Hasidic sects and its stance toward Israel. Gerda Haas, Bates Coll. Lib., Lewiston, Me.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780684813660
  • Publisher: Touchstone
  • Publication date: 9/1/1995
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.70 (d)

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 4, 2000

    Sensitive Revealing Portrait of the Hasidim

    When this book was first published in 1985, it opened a door to the mysterious world of the Hasidim. In 2000, with an Orthodox Jew as the Democratic Party¿s Vice Presidential candidate, Holy Days is more relevant than ever. The Hasids, a small but vibrant Jewish sect based in Brooklyn, New York, maintain their tight knit community by observing a rigorous set of rules for religious faith and daily living. Many more secular Jews have attitudes ranging from ignorance to downright hostility towards this group. Harris is honest about her own ambivalence as she enters the community, developing a friendship with a Hasidic woman and her family. Her account of their lives is sensitive, revealing and moving. As she begins to participate in their meals, their conversations and family celebrations and their observation of religious holidays, the reader feels privileged to enter with her and begins to understand their faith. Alternate chapters provide a thoughtful and balanced account of the Hasidic community and history. While these chapters offer much-needed context, it is the more personal moments of friendship and faith that leave an indelible impression. The book is an example of superb journalism and thoughtful writing but it is so much more¿a contemplation of faith that may provoke you to think about the role of religion and spirituality in your own life.

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