In Strictly Kosher Reading, Yoel Finkelman introduces, interrogates and theorizes contemporary Haredi (Ultra-Orthodox) popular literature of a variety of genres, from fiction to biography to popular theology, revealing the tensions inherent in a tradition that simultaneously rejects American culture while adapting--and sometimes adopting--its values and attitudes. As such, the book provides fascinating insights into an aspect of Haredi culture little known outside of Orthodox Jewish circles in a scholarly, yet highly accessible, way.
Haredi Judaism is still in its early stages of development, but has already been the focus of numerous scholars, most of whom look at the learned writings of this community. In this new book, Yoel Finkelman has opened up for us the world of popular culture and thought in the haredi world. His concern is how haredim view themselves and how they write about their community and history. At the same time that haredi society attempts to create walls between itself and the wider culture, its writings for the masses are very much influenced by general trends, even in areas as important as marriage and parenting. Combining keen sociological insight with historical knowledge, Finkelman is a wonderful guide to the recent trends in haredi society.
Marc B. Shapiro, Weinberg Chair of Jewish Studies, University of Scranton
Yoel Finkelman presents a penetrating and fascinating analysis of the ways in which American “haredi” (“ultraorthodox”) writers and educators use the broader culture to create and maintain clear boundaries between themselves and the outside society and culture. With acute observations and a very effective writing style, this book is for anyone interested in the areas of American Orthodox Judaism, Jewish education, religion and media, as well as the broader social scientific area of culture and cognition.
Chaim I. Waxman, Professor Emeritus of Sociology and Jewish Studies, Rutgers University