"Hasidism: Key Questions", Marcin Wodziński

Hasidism: Key Questions applies radically new sources, perspectives, and methodologies to the central questions of Hasidism, providing a profoundly new look at many salient issues in the historiography of Hasidism, one of the most important religious movements of modern Eastern Europe.

Hasidism has deeply influenced the religious, social, and cultural life of the Jewish population of Eastern Europe from the eighteenth century up to the present day. Innovative and multidisciplinary in its approach, Hasidism: Key Questions examines the common denominators of any social or religious movement: definition, gender, leadership, demographic size, geography, economy, and decline. This is the most comprehensive response to the main issues of Hasidism to be attempted in one book.

Recognizing the major limitations of existing research on the subject, Marcin Wodzinski’s Hasidism offers four important correctives. First, it offers an anti-elitist approach that redirects the focus from the leaders of Hasidism to their rank-and-file followers. Second, it introduces new types of sources that have rarely or never been used before in research on Hasidism, including archival documents, Jewish memorial books, petitionary notes, as well as quantitative and visual materials. Third, it examines Hasidism from its institutional maturation at the end of the eighteenth century to its major crisis and decline in wake of the First World War. Finally, breaking from the confines of intellectual history, the book offers a multidisciplinary approach that incorporates methodologies from sociology, anthropology of religion, demography, historical geography and other fields.

More about the book on the website of the Oxford University Press.