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Race and Religion Among the Chosen People of Crown Heights 48812th Edition

4.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0813538976
ISBN-10: 0813538971
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Race and Religion among the Chosen Peoples of Crown Heights is a richly sustained and critically insightful ethnography of the Lubavitch community in Crown Heights. Henry Goldschmidt has done an excellent job of creating an account that reflects the Lubavitchers' worldview and simultaneously gives voice to their neighbors." -- Jonathan Boyarin, Distinguished Professor of Modern Jewish Studies, University of Kansas

"Grounded in extended research among both Blacks and Hasidic Jews in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, Goldschmidt challenges the binary, black/white approach to U.S. race relations, brilliantly demonstrating how religious discourses inform and complicate the everyday reckoning of distinctions between Self and Other. Beautifully written, this book is a major contribution." -- Steven Gregory, author of Black Corona: Race and the Politics of Place in an Urban Community

"With great intelligence, compassion, and humor, Henry Goldschmidt moves from the laundromat, to kosher kitchens, to the street to gain understanding about the difficulties that religion and race present to the project of American multiculturalism." -- Faye Ginsburg, author of Contested Lives: The Abortion Debate in an American Community

About the Author

Henry Goldschmidt is Assistant Professor of Religion and Society at Wesleyan University. His research has focused on Black-Jewish difference in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Crown Heights. Elizabeth McAlister is Associate Professor in the Department of Religion and in the programs in American
Studies, African-American Studies, and Latin American Studies at Wesleyan University. She is the author of Rara!: Vodou, Power, and Performance in Haiti and its Diaspora (2002).
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 296 pages
  • Publisher: Rutgers University Press; 48812th edition (September 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0813538971
  • ISBN-13: 978-0813538976
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #983,846 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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An interesting review of the blacks and Hasidic Jews in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. This book goes into depth about the history of Crown Heights, the various groups that settled there, and, of course, the 1991 Crown Heights riot. Goldschmidt shows that many of the blacks and Jews in this area have differing views about just what their neighborhood consists of and each considers themselves "chosen" in different ways.
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Format: Paperback
Henry Goldschmidt is an assistant professor of religion and society at Wesleyan University.

He writes in the Prologue to this 2006 book, "This book is about Black-Jewish difference in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Crown Heights---a neighborhood known for its history of intermittent conflict between Lubavitch Hasidic Jews and their predominantly Afro-Caribbean neighbors, and above all the deadly violence of August 1991. The book will focus, for various reasons, on the Jewishness of the Lubavitch Hasidism, but its ultimate goal is to explore the diverse conceptual logics with which both Blacks and Jews in Crown Heights make sense of the differences that divide their neighborhood."

Here are some quotations from the book:

"(T)he Lubavitch Hasidim, a tight-knit community of orthodox Jews, chose to stay in Crown Heights in the late 1960s when nearly all of their White Jewish neighbors chose to leave." (Pg. 5)
"As I have noted, most Black Crown Heights residents see their Jewish neighbors' insularity as a form of racial segregation, while most Lubavitchers see it as a commandment of the Torah that has nothing to do with race." (Pg. 128)
"One Black orthodox Jew I met in Crown Heights complained that they never ask him if he's put on tefillin, although of course he does so every morning in synagogue." (Pg. 166)
"Lubavitch men do not wear the stockings, knickers, and slippers that some other Hasidic men wear ... Indeed, Lubavitchers are often criticized by other Hasidim for being too 'liberal' and 'modern' in their dress, and much else." (Pg. 173)
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Format: Paperback
This book will blow your mind. Let me come clean: I'm a close friend of Henry Goldschmidt's and I read drafts of this book as he wrote it. Hopefully, I can stay somewhat objective as I tell the world how much I love this book! Goldschmidt has written a fascinating account of everyday life on the streets of Crown Heights, focusing on all the ways that the groups who live there exist side-by-side but in different universes. The book takes us beneath the surface of easy concepts like "diversity" and "understanding" to show how people united and divided by race and religion forge tense, fragile compromises in everyday life. This is a very important book for anyone who loves Brooklyn, city folks in general, or just generally people who want their minds blown by the truth-is-stranger-than-fiction details of the culture and history of Crown Heights. Goldschmidt's work helps me understand the urban world around me (Philadelphia, not New York, but still...) in a wholly new and wonderful way.
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