Tradition in a Rootless World: Women Turn to Orthodox Judaism

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University of California Press, Jul 29, 1991 - Religion - 268 pages
The past two decades in the United States have seen an immense liberalization and expansion of women's roles in society. Recently, however, some women have turned away from the myriad, complex choices presented by modern life and chosen instead a Jewish orthodox tradition that sets strict and rigid guidelines for women to follow.

Lynn Davidman followed the conversion to Orthodoxy of a group of young, secular Jewish women to gain insight into their motives. Living first with a Hasidic community in St. Paul, Minnesota, and then joining an Orthodox synagogue on the upper west side of Manhattan, Davidman pieced together a picture of disparate lives and personal dilemmas. As a participant observer in their religious resocialization and in interviews and conversations with over one hundred women, Davidman also sought a new perspective on the religious institutions that reach out to these women and usher them into the community of Orthodox Judaism.

Through vivid and detailed personal portraits, Tradition in a Rootless World explores women's place not only in religious institutions but in contemporary society as a whole. It is a perceptive contribution that unites the study of religion, sociology, and women's studies.

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Tradition in a rootless world: women turn to Orthodox Judaism

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Davidman (sociology and women's studies, Univ. of Pittsburgh) offers an intriguing sociological exploration of the world of Orthodox Judaism and its resurgence among modern American women. The ... Read full review

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well written, compelling and informative... the author has done a great job portraying the scene a Baalat Teshuvah encounters, and, eventually becomes a part of in her journey to find her place in Judaism... profound, and well written, thank you!


2 Women Judaism and Modernity
3 A Journey into Two Jewish Communities
4 Order Belonging and Identity
5 Women into Wives and Mothers
6 Teachings on Jewish Religious Observance
7 The Dynamics of Conversion
8 On Women and Religious Traditions in Modern US Society
Interview Guide for Baalot Teshuvah
Interview Guide for Rabbis
Questionnaire for Bais Chana Women

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About the author (1991)

Lynn Davidman is Dorot Assistant Professor of Judaic Studies and Sociology at Brown University.

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