Hasidism has often been defined and viewed as a sect. By implication, if Hasidism was indeed a sect, then membership would have encompassed all the social ties of the “sectarians,” including their family ties, thus forcing us to consider their mothers, wives, and daughters as full-fledged female hasidim. In reality, however, women did not become hasidim in their own right, at least not in terms of the categories implied by the definition of Hasidism as a sect. Reconsideration of the logical implications of the identification of Hasidism as a sect leads to a radical re-evaluation of the relationship between the hasidic movement and its female constituency, and, by extension, of larger issues concerning the boundaries of Hasidism.
An earlier version of this paper was delivered at the conference “Is Yiddishkait Feminine?” in Warsaw in 2008 and published in Polish as “O bocianach z żabiej perspektywy, czyli Kobiety i chasydyzm,” in Nieme dusze? Kobiety w kulturze jidysz, ed. Joanna Lisek (Wrocław, 2010), 77–104. The present version has been significantly modified and enriched. I would like to thank Barbara Kirschenblatt-Gimblett, Ada Rapoport-Albert, Moshe Rosman, and Chava Weissler for their thought-provoking comments and criticism. Even if I did not always follow their suggestions, their comments have helped me to reconsider and clarify my position.
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Wodziński, M. Women and Hasidism: A “Non-Sectarian” Perspective. Jew History 27, 399–434 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10835-013-9190-x
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