Brooklyn, NY – It wasn’t easy for Fordham University anthropologist Ayala Fader, Ph.D., to gain access to the Hasidic community in Brooklyn’s Borough Park neighborhood. In many ways, it’s a world unto itself — and not particularly open to outsiders.Join our WhatsApp group
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But Fader persisted by getting to know people within the community and eventually she got the kind of access that an ethnographic study invariably requires. And what she was able to document was the remarkable ability of mothers and teachers to refashion the secular world, especially the English language, so as to allow them to build boundaries around their way of life and imbue children with a deep sense of what it means to be a Hasidic Jew.
In fact, although men continue to speak Yiddish into adulthood, Hasidic women stop using it by the time they start school except for certain limited contexts (such as with babies or with men).
Instead, they speak English or a cross between English and Yiddish that Fader calls Hasidic English. One reason for this, Fader said, is because Hasidic women are the ones who are often relied on to engage the wider society by doing such things as taking children to the doctor. In this community, it is men who carry on “tradition” through studying the Torah, and women who protect them. [Fordham University]