by David Tesler, AJL News and Reviews
This collection of articles Contemporary Uses and Forms of Hasidut is part of the Orthodox Forum series that Yeshiva University convenes to discuss important cultural, legal, and sociological trends occurring within the Jewish Orthodox world. This volume focuses on a pronounced shift within modern Orthodox life toward Hasidut and increased spirituality — what many now call “Neo-Hasidut.”
The interesting and helpful opening chapter of this work written by the editor seeks to contextualize and define what Neo-Hasidut means and why it is worthy of interest. Part I of this book discusses Hasidic thought among Mitnagdic (non-Hasidic) thinkers and demonstrates that many Hasidic concepts have often been found in non-Hasidic thought. Part II explores the thought of an array of relatively recent Hasidic (and neo-Hasidic) thinkers (Zeitlin, Buber, Heschel, Mishkovsky, Carlebach, Schachter-Shalomi, Green, Shapira, and Shagar). Part III focuses on the sociology of contemporary Neo- Hasidut. Particularly noteworthy in this section is a fascinating sociological analysis by the late David Landes of Neo-Hasidism among American modern Orthodoxy in general, and at Yeshiva University in particular. The final section, Part IV, turns to theological perspectives on Neo-Hasidut, including articles on the appeal of Neo-Hasidut to contemporary Jewry and one Rabbinic educator’s hesitations regarding contemporary Neo-Hasidut.
This book is a fascinating read for anybody interested in contemporary Jewish Orthodoxy (in both the United States and Israel). The growing phenomenon of Neo-Hasidut within Orthodoxy is quite dynamic, and this book does an excellent job of explaining and contextualizing this noteworthy movement.
Zuckier, Shlomo, editor. Contemporary Uses and Forms of Hasidut. Brooklyn: Ktav Publishing House, Urim Publications, 2022. The Orthodox Forum. 516 pp. $37.95 (9781602803985) HC.