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The Commodification of Orthodox Judaism

NicholasMyra

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https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2017/07/commodification-orthodox-judaism/532668/

In Israel, secular citizens and foreign visitors willing to fork over $20 to the tour company Israel-2Go can embark on a trip to an ultra-Orthodox neighborhood, where they’ll watch men in black hats and women in long skirts buying challah bread from a kosher bakery while a guide narrates the scene...

...Five years ago, Lau-Lavie founded New York’s Lab/Shul, which its website describes as a “God-optional” and “experimental community for sacred Jewish gatherings.” This non-Orthodox community offers public pop-up events featuring music, tapas, and drinks on Friday nights, where people are encouraged to put away their phones and connect with others as Shabbat begins. It also sells a Shabbat2Go DIY Kit, including placemats printed with liturgy options and conversation starters...

...“They are not concerned about whether or not something is ‘authentically’ Jewish, but rather that the individual practice has something to offer them,” Thurston said. “Authenticity is often measured vis-a-vis the effectiveness … Even when they are taken into new contexts, as long as they still feel meaningful, rituals maintain some aspect of authenticity.” In that sense, the “authenticity” is a function of consumer satisfaction, rather than of “ancientness” or of “official” approval.
 

Agabus

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I listened to an interview with  Lau-Lavie not long ago. Kind of a Jewish version of Wild Goose.
 

Sharbel

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Why would anybody pay extra when orthodox Jewish families are everywhere in the old city in Jerusalem?  ???
 

Alpha60

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Sharbel said:
Why would anybody pay extra when orthodox Jewish families are everywhere in the old city in Jerusalem?  ???
Chasidim and Charedim live radically divergent lives from the rest of us; most of them are not tuned into major events in the news but are rather more concerned with the politics of their insular community.  Many aspects of the Charedi and Chasidic lifestyle are borderline incomprehensible; in three years of reading about them, viewing documentaries, and attempting almost entirely without success to interact with any (they really don't like to talk to outsiders), there is still much about their life that I find mystifying.

Having a narrator to explain the scenes of their everyday life would be helpful.  Having a bus with reinforced shatter proof windows would also be helpful, as outsiders, even other Jews, are not always entirely welcome in those neighborhoods.  Not a good place to go for a walk in a T shirt with your baptismal cross visible.
 

Sharbel

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Alpha60 said:
Having a bus with reinforced shatter proof windows would also be helpful, as outsiders, even other Jews, are not always entirely welcome in those neighborhoods.
I'd throw stones at people who came to look at me as if I were a specimen in a zoo too.  ;)
 

Faithseeker

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Chassidim have re-created the lost world of Eastern Europe. Their manner of dress reflect that of the Chassidic Dynasty they once were part of - the names of each Chassidic community is a reflection of the town from whence they came in Europe. Charedim are Orthodox Jews unaffiliated with Chassidim. The term "ultra-orthodox" is used quite frequently but also in error.  There is no such thing as ultra-orthodox - one who follows the Torah is Orthodox. Those who follow the lifestyle,  teachings and life from the old shtetl are Chassidim and those who observe the Torah but try to blend in with western society are called "modern orthodox" as women may wear pants instead of skirts,  short sleeve shirts instead of 3/4 or full length and may or may not cover their hair. Men wear jeans,  even shorts,  tuck their tzitzis in their pockets,  rather than have them hang out.

One cannot learn about Chassidim by a tour bus any better than one can learn about Orthodoxy by going into a church during DL. Every Orthodox parish is different,  every Orthodox community is different.

The author of this article compares these tour buses to going into Amish communities. I grew up and still live right next to the Old Order Mennonite community. In fact,  it's not uncommon to pass a horse and buggy on the way to church on Sundays. I've always thought that tourist groups were distasteful. As the Amish and Old Order Mennonite communities depend on outsider purchases to some degree, they go to the local markets or at up stands in the front of their farms to sell their produce and jams.

The Chassidic communities indeed are quite insular. Mea Shearim and other places have signs posted for women and men to dress modestly and speak appropriately whilst in their community.

An outsider walking down the street just sees a while bunch of Charedim or Chassidim. Those who are Chassidic or Charedi, can easily look down that same street and say "that person is from such and such community" as the dress style is different - perhaps the type is stockings a lady wears,  the length of her dress,  the colours of her dress,  is she wearing a headscarf or a sheitel (wig) or both?  What shape of hat is a man wearing,  the colour or design of his yarmulka, what style of tzitzis does he wear,  is his coat short-waisted or long,  how long are his peyos (sidecurls) and how are they kept (tight curls or straight), what colour are his socks and what type of shoes does he wear?

All of these questions will give a person better insight into a community and then one can begin learning about the communities. Watching women buying challah or seeing a newsstand or men and boys rushing off to shul (synagogue) or yeshiva (school) will not teach anyone anything and it is insulting to the people who are being watched as though they were part of a zoo. A people who have spent centuries being persecuted and placed in ghettos and endured terrible things en masse and now being exploited by tourist groups?

Very distasteful.
 

Alpha60

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Faithseeker said:
Chassidim have re-created the lost world of Eastern Europe. Their manner of dress reflect that of the Chassidic Dynasty they once were part of - the names of each Chassidic community is a reflection of the town from whence they came in Europe. Charedim are Orthodox Jews unaffiliated with Chassidim. The term "ultra-orthodox" is used quite frequently but also in error.  There is no such thing as ultra-orthodox - one who follows the Torah is Orthodox. Those who follow the lifestyle,  teachings and life from the old shtetl are Chassidim and those who observe the Torah but try to blend in with western society are called "modern orthodox" as women may wear pants instead of skirts,  short sleeve shirts instead of 3/4 or full length and may or may not cover their hair. Men wear jeans,  even shorts,  tuck their tzitzis in their pockets,  rather than have them hang out.

One cannot learn about Chassidim by a tour bus any better than one can learn about Orthodoxy by going into a church during DL. Every Orthodox parish is different,  every Orthodox community is different.

The author of this article compares these tour buses to going into Amish communities. I grew up and still live right next to the Old Order Mennonite community. In fact,  it's not uncommon to pass a horse and buggy on the way to church on Sundays. I've always thought that tourist groups were distasteful. As the Amish and Old Order Mennonite communities depend on outsider purchases to some degree, they go to the local markets or at up stands in the front of their farms to sell their produce and jams.

The Chassidic communities indeed are quite insular. Mea Shearim and other places have signs posted for women and men to dress modestly and speak appropriately whilst in their community.

An outsider walking down the street just sees a while bunch of Charedim or Chassidim. Those who are Chassidic or Charedi, can easily look down that same street and say "that person is from such and such community" as the dress style is different - perhaps the type is stockings a lady wears,  the length of her dress,  the colours of her dress,  is she wearing a headscarf or a sheitel (wig) or both?  What shape of hat is a man wearing,  the colour or design of his yarmulka, what style of tzitzis does he wear,  is his coat short-waisted or long,  how long are his peyos (sidecurls) and how are they kept (tight curls or straight), what colour are his socks and what type of shoes does he wear?

All of these questions will give a person better insight into a community and then one can begin learning about the communities. Watching women buying challah or seeing a newsstand or men and boys rushing off to shul (synagogue) or yeshiva (school) will not teach anyone anything and it is insulting to the people who are being watched as though they were part of a zoo. A people who have spent centuries being persecuted and placed in ghettos and endured terrible things en masse and now being exploited by tourist groups?

Very distasteful.
A very insightful post, Faithseeker!  God bless you.
 

Asteriktos

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Maybe someone needs to set up a Jewish 'living history museum' (like Old Bedford Village)... keep eyeballs on the people who actually want eyeballs on them.
 
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