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From the ardently religious young woman who longs for the life of a male scholar to the young rebel who visits a strip club, smokes pot, and agonizes over her loss of faith to the proud Lubavitcher with a desire for a high-powered career, Stephanie Wellen Levine provides a rare glimpse into the inner worlds and daily lives of these Hasidic girls.
Lubavitcher Hasidim are famous for their efforts to inspire secular Jews to become more observant and for their messianic fervor. Strict followers of Orthodox Judaism, they maintain sharp gender-role distinctions.
Levine spent a year living in the Lubavitch community of Crown Heights, Brooklyn, participating in the rhythms of Hasidic girlhood. Drawing on many intimate hours among Hasidim and over 30 in-depth interviews, Mystics, Mavericks, and Merrymakers offers rich portraits of individual Hasidic young women and how they deal with the conflicts between the regimented society in which they live and the pull of mainstream American life.
Perhaps counterintuitively for those who envision meek, religious girls confined within very structured roles, Levine finds that on the whole, these young Hasidic women seem more confident and have a greater sense of self than many of their mainstream peers. Levine explores why this might be the case, and what we can learn from their example for girls' positive development more generally. Along the way, she provides a fascinating portrayal of day-to-day life in the Lubavitch community.
This superbly crafted book offers intimate stories from Hasidic teenagers' lives, providing an intriguing twist to a universal theme: the struggle to grow up and define who we are within the context of culture, family, and life-driving beliefs.
"Mystics, Mavericks, and Merrymakers presents a comprehensive snapshot of women's experience in Crown Heights . . . Levine's personal response to the Lubavitcher way of life weaves itself into each chapter and is one of the book's most engaging aspects."-Eric Caplan,CCAR Journal: The Reform Jewish Quarterly
"In an age that is at times overly concerned with girls' self-destruction, here is a welcome sign of girls' strength and healthy development. Levine teaches an important and seldom taught lesson: we may find resilience where we least expect it. Her unprecedented insight into this hidden culture is an important addition to the growing body of work on girls."
-Rachel Simmons,author of Odd Girl Out
"Lively tales of girls who long for the lives of male scholars, and rebels who visit strip clubs, smoke pot, and dream of high-powered careers."
-Books to Watch out For,
"Stephanie Levine's book is full of surprises."
"In an era seemingly plagued with sex, anorexia and depression among our nation's girls, a page from Mystics, Mavericks, and Merrymakers is a refreshing peek into the possibilities for growth, strength and self."
-The Jewish New Weekly of Northern California,
|Introduction: What I Sought, What I Found||1|
|1||The Community: A Cultural and Psychological Tour||27|
|3||Esther (Estie) Gutman: Wild Times and Holy Designs||73|
|4||Rochel Lehrer: Evolving, Not Rebelling||87|
|5||Nechama Dina (Dini) Rockoff: Chutzpah and Holiness||107|
|6||Chaya Jacobson: Strip Clubs and Soul-Searching||124|
|7||Gittel Kassin: Medicine and Marriage||139|
|8||Malka (Malkie) Belfer: Miniskirts and the Messiah||158|
|9||Leah Ratner: Mystic and Maverick||175|
|10||Into the Future: Adulthood and Insights from the Hasidim||191|
|About the Author||255|
Posted May 22, 2006
Posted January 1, 2005
This book was awesome.....could not put it down. A wealth of information for anyone looking for answers to the 'seemingly hidden' lives of Hasidic/Orthodox Jewish girls...Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 4, 2009
No text was provided for this review.