asidim—ultra-Orthodox Jews belonging to sectarian communities, worshiping and working as followers of specific rebbes—they are set apart from assimilated, mainstream American Jews.
But as women in a subculture primarily defined by male religious studies, rituals, and legal obligations, they are also set apart from asidism, as a radical movement of Judaism, emerged from the teachings of Israel ben Eliezer (the Ba’al Shem Tov, or Besht, 1698–1760) in eighteenth-century Poland, spreading throughout Eastern Europe and giving rise to a variety of regional sects.
Yet throughout the nineteenth century, women and girls were never expected to move past a basic literacy in daily and holiday prayers.
That certain women functioned as respected scholars or mystical rebbetzins (female spiritual leaders or teachers), in the movement’s early decades is hotly contested by Jewish historians today.
His yeshiva training and devotion to daily piety make him a “holy man” in our secular society, although some more assimilated Jews find the asidic woman, though no less devout.
The Modern Jewish Woman (1981); Lubavitch Educational Foundation of Great Britain.
These texts included The Modern Jewish Woman and AURA: A Reader on Jewish Womanhood, both prepared by the Lubavitch Women’s Organization.
As outreach missionaries, or shluos, Lubavitcher women as well as men now travel to remote locations or to turbulent college campuses—wherever Jews live—providing, through what is known as the “Chabad House,” a lively forum for dialogue and Jewish learning.
Lis Harris’s Holy Days, Deborah Kaufman’s Rachel’s Daughters, and Lynn Davidman’s Tradition in a Rootless World are examples of feminist investigators’ growing interest in asidic practices are lessening.
However, for real insight into Lubavitcher women’s concerns, there is no substitute for the quarterly Yiddish/English journal Di Yiddishe Heim, a Lubavitch publication which offers a mixture of Jewish history and legal interpretations, humorous anecdotes about asidic family life, and articles on developments in the Lubavitcher girls’ school system (Bais Rivkah). Holy Days: The World of a Hasidic Family (1985); Hertzman, Chuna, and Shmuel Elchonen Brog.