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Key Questions

Marcin Wodzinski

Publication Date - 01 November 2020

ISBN: 9780197552643

370 pages
6.14 x 9.21 inches

In Stock


Hasidism is one of the most important religious and social movements to have developed in Eastern Europe, and the most significant phenomenon in the religious, social and cultural life of the Jewish population in Eastern Europe from the eighteenth century up to the present day. Innovative and multidisciplinary in its approach, Hasidism: Key Questions discusses the most cardinal features of any social or religious movement: definition, gender, leadership, demographic size, geography, economy, and decline. This is the first attempt to respond those central questions in one book.

Recognizing the major limitations of the existing research on Hasidism, Marcin Wodzinski's Hasidism offers four important corrections. First, it offers anti-elitist corrective attempting to investigate Hasidism beyond its leaders into the masses of the rank-and-file followers. Second, it introduces new types of sources, rarely or never used in research on Hasidism, including archival documents, Jewish memorial books, petitionary notes, quantitative, and visual materials. Third, it covers the whole classic period of Hasidism from its institutional maturation at the end of the eighteenth century to its major crisis and decline in wake of the First World War. Finally, instead of focusing on intellectual history, the book offers a multi-disciplinary approach with the modern methodologies of the corresponding disciplines: sociology and anthropology of religion, demography, historical geography and more.

By combining some oldest, central questions with radically new sources, perspectives, and methodologies, Hasidism: Key Questions will provide a radically new look at many central issues in historiography of Hasidism, one of the most important religious movements of modern Eastern Europe.


  • New, fresh perspective on the study of Hasidism
  • First study to address a variety of major key questions in one book
  • Combines some of the oldest, central questions with radically new sources, perspectives, and methodologies

About the Author(s)

Marcin Wodzinski is Professor of Jewish History and Literature at the University of Wroclaw, Poland. His special fields of interest are Jewish material culture and the social history of Jews in nineteenth-century Eastern Europe, especially the history of Hasidism and Haskalah. His books include: Hebrew Inscriptions in Silesia 13th-18th c. (Pol., 1996), Haskalah and Hasidism (2005), Hasidism and Politics (2013), and Historical Atlas of Hasidism (2018).

Table of Contents

    Note on Transcription and Place Names


    Chapter 1: A Definition

    Chapter 2: Women

    Chapter 3: Leadership

    Chapter 4: Demography

    Chapter 5: Geography

    Chapter 6: Economy

    Chapter 7: The End and the Beginning


    List of Figures and Tables