Mitzvah Girls


This past week, I have been reading Mitzvah Girls – Bringing Up the Next Generation of Hasidic Jews in Brooklyn by Ayala Fader. While Boychiks in the Hood reads like a travelogue with author Robert Eisenberg traveling around the United States and across the world to visit Hasidic communities and describing them rather briefly as he moves along, Mitzvah Girls is an in-depth ethnographic study of how Hasidic parents and communities educate girls so that they become “women responsible for rearing the next generation of nonliberal Jewish believers. ”

Ayala Fader did not concentrate on rituals and prayers, instead she listened to everyday talks between women and girls in homes, classrooms and other places where Hasidic interact. Sometimes she even recorded them. She thus primarily focuses on socialization through language and shows how it enforces strict gender roles.

I hope to find the time to review particular aspects of this book; for instance how girls are encouraged to “fit in” and how mothers and teachers deal with “defiance”. I was also very interested in the fact that men and women and thus boys and girls use different languages in their everyday lives – Hasidic Yiddish and Hasidic English respectively. The way these women see themselves and want to be perceived by the outside world is also quite fascinating.

The book is one which readers with an interest in Hasidic life, Jewish women and even gender studies will find riveting. Fader’s study is always respectful of the people she observes and she never guides our judgement, even when the attitudes she uncovers shed a negative light on Hasidic Jews.

Sweet and Sour Chicken Stew


Like the Quick, Easy and Cheap Tuna Curry, this recipe originated in my cousin’s kitchen. The ingredients here are mere indications; do not hesitate to add or change the quantities according to taste and availability.

Ingredients for four:
2 onions, sliced
4 chicken thighs
2-3 garlic cloves, crushed
3 preserved lemons, sliced
4-5 peeled and sliced zucchini
1 pound fesh baby bell mushroom, sliced
1 can beer (my cousin uses lager, I prefer darker ales)
1 can pineapple, drained and cubed
1/é tsp hot red pepper
salt and pepper to taste

Sauté onions in olive oil in a large pot and add chicken thighs. Brown on all sides, lower the heat, add garlic and cover for 5-10 minutes.
Add the lemons, zucchini and mushrooms. Barely cover with beer, season, cover tightly and simmer for at least one hour. After one hour, add pineapple cubes. Cook for another 10 minutes.

Weekly Review with Bench


On My Blog

Photo Memes:
Waking Up In Antwerp for SOOC
Our Daily Bread for Ruby Tuesday

Weekly Recipe: Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage with Apple

Latest Musings

Elsewhere in the JBlogosphere

Safe Jewish Homes by Menachem Creditor

Post-modern Jewish Identity, an article by Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz

How Can a Doctor Pray for Parnasa (Income)?: Hannah shares thoughts and tips she heard during a doctor’s lecture

Heblish: Support Group Edition, a post by Mrs.S.

Sticky labels, gold & silver pens, purple card and lots of love!, Rachel is getting ready

Leora posts a new recipe:No Cook Pea Salad

Robin hosts the latest edition of JPIX

Shabbat Shalom!

Latest Musings


– I am very busy again. Our school is being audited this week and I have been asked to participate in two informal talks: one about the projects we have (because of the exchange we have had with a Swedish high school for 11 years) and one because I am on the school board.
Unfortunately two other meetings had been planned prior to the audit – a parents’ evening and a school board meeting. They have neither been cancelled not postponed, which means going back to the school every evening of the week, except Fridays.

– The parents’ evening was last night. I saw just over half of my students’ parents (only one class was concerned,) which is not too bad for a language teacher. French and maths teachers are the stars. Parents often seem surprised at hearing how accurate our perception of their children are. Do they think we only see the grades and not the personality behind the results?

My trainee will be unofficially inspected next Tuesday and I am beginning to feel the pressure too. The “real” thing will take place in May once she is supposed to have learned the trade.

– I ordered and received Mitzvah Girls: Bringing Up the Next Generation of Hasidic Jews in Brooklyn by Ayala Fader. I hope to read it soon and write a review on this blog.

– How is your week?