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A World Apart Next Door: Glimpses into the Life of Hasidic Jews

Ester Muchawsky-Schnapper

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In 2012, the Israel Museum opened an exhibition devoted to aspects of Hasidic life, drawing wide acclaim and attracting large crowds – including, perhaps for the first time ever, an important audience of Hasidic Jews. This volume, which accompanied the exhibition, presents the fruits of research and field work carried out by ethnography curator Ester Muchawsky-Schnapper. Focusing on items of material culture such as a box for kvitlekh (supplicatory notes to the Rebbe) and cups made from silver coins given by Rebbes to their followers, Muchawsky-Schnapper examines the customs related to these objects with a sensitive and empathetic gaze, offering us glimpses into a reality worlds apart from our own – though sometimes as close as a few streets away. An entire section is devoted to analyzing elements of dress characteristic of the various Hasidic courts, illustrated by photographs of items most of which belong to the Museum’s rich ethnographic holdings. Eminent scholar Arthur Green provides an illuminating introduction about the Hasidic movement, and the book is further enriched by striking historical, documentary, and artistic photographs of central events in the life of the Hasidic community – weddings, festive tish ceremonies, the Rosh Hashanah ritual of tashlikh, and many more. 

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