The Jewish Hasidic community has many sides: It is a close society and as such very little is known about it. The videos posted here are a collection of interviews with members of the Hasidic community, and with people who left the community.
Each community has good people and bad people. This post is not about individuals. It is about a community and its lifestyle. Some people love this way of life, others not. The ones who love it brought it back to life from the ashes of the Holocaust, when it was on the brink of extinction. The ones who hated it left the community while paying a heavy price; the door to the world in which they grew up in, and to to their families, was shut behind them the moment they removed their Hasidic cloths and moved out of the community.
Preservation of ancient religious laws and practices is a primary theme in the Hasidic world. However, it is not a static society. Very slowly it is evolving under the pressure of the wifes, daughters, and mothers who want more freedom for self expression, as seen in the video about the rock band and the video about the call for political representation by women.
As much as it wants to be isolated from exterior influences, as seen in the videos, it is almost impossible for this community to ignore its secular Jewish neighbors. The Israeli Hasidic community is under pressure from the larger Israeli secular community, which expects the Hasidic community to share the burden of serving in the Israeli army. Something that Hasidic rabbis strongly object to for fear that exposure to the secular society will cause their children to become secular. The Hasidic community attitude toward service in the military makes it the subject for non-stop criticism by many Israelis. A complicated issue since most Israeli families have both; Hasidic and secular family members.
One video is a testimonial of a young woman, who was sexually abused as a child by a rabbi in her community. It is published here, not to provide ammunition for people to criticize the Hasidic way of life. Child abuse occurs in every community. It is not unique to one group or another. The child abuse story is included here in response to the speaker’s brave call for the Hasidic community to help her fight child abuse. I’m responding to her call.
Regardless of your personal religious and personal preferences (I am a secular Jew), in these videos you will meet amazing individuals. People that I hope will touch you the same way that I was touched when I first watched the videos: Good, smart, community oriented people that most of us never get to see for two reasons:
Hasidic people live in a close society that lives its life away from the spotlight, and discourages self-promotion.
Most of us only see the strange-looking Hasidic uniforms. Many of us fail to see the people who wear them.
I hope that this post will change that.
Video 1: National Geographic documentary on Hasidism
Video 2: NBC interview with young former Hasidic Jews
Video 3: Sima tells her story and calls to the Hasidic community to be proactive in the fight against child sexual abuse
Video 4: An in-depth documentary about the Hasidic Jewish community and the differences between the groups
Video 5: Self expression through music by Hasidic Jewish women
Video 6: A former Hasidic Jew explain why he left the community
Video 7: The place of Jewish women in the Hasidic community as explained to a young woman in Jerusalem
Video 8: Jewish women tell about their world
Video 9: Jewish women want to be part of the political process in more ways than just voting
Video 10: Ultra-Orthodox Israeli Women looking for representation in the Israeli Parliament (Knesset)
Video 11: Hasidic Israeli soldiers are criticized and attacked in their communities
Video 12: Hasidic leaders object to service in the army
Video 13: Oprah interviews Hasidic women
Video 14: Oprah interviews Hasidic family