Educated and Ignorant: Ultraorthodox Jewish Women and Their World

Educated and Ignorant: Ultraorthodox Jewish Women and Their World

Educated and Ignorant: Ultraorthodox Jewish Women and Their World

Educated and Ignorant: Ultraorthodox Jewish Women and Their World

Synopsis

This ethnography investigates the meaning of learning in the lives of ultra-orthodox Jewish women. Presenting a picture of the Gur Hassidic community in Israel, the author explores the relationship between women's literacy and their subordination. She finds that ultra-orthodox women are taught to be ignorant.

Excerpt

As I was reading the final proofs of this work, my eldest son came up to me and inquired whether this would be a book that people could read. Perhaps he was trying to picture the audience toward which the book was directed—would the material be accessible only to researchers and students, or also to those who came to it simply out of curiosity? (He may just have wanted to know whether he would be expected to read it!) In fact, my concerns were similar. I wished both to tell a story and search for its meaning, both to present primary material—the record of my fieldwork— and to offer reflective and critical analysis.

While the story is of a particular place and a particular society, its implications extend to the entire set of contexts in which it lies and out of which it developed. The book progresses from the local to the general, from the society under study to ultraorthodox society as a whole, and thence to all of Israeli society.

This book is based on a doctoral thesis prepared for the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Bar-Ilan University. I owe thanks to my advisers, Dafna Yizraeli and Haim Hazan, as well as to Phyllis Palgi, Daliah Moore, and Gideon Kunda. I must also thank the editors at Am Oved—Haim Be'er, Nira Harel, Eli Shaltiel, Ilana Shamir, and Zehava Kana'an—for their perceptive and attentive reading and editing of the Hebrew-language manuscript. Am Oved published the Hebrew version in September 1992.

This edition is a translation of the Hebrew version, with comments and clarifications added for the English-language reader. I owe special thanks to the translator, Haim Watzman, for his superb work, which is faithful to the spirit of the book and to both languages.

My thanks to the Rosita and Isteban Herczeg Fund for Gender Studies of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem for the grant that enabled translation of the book.

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