Will the Real Chareidim Please Stand Up

A new exhibit opens at the Israel Museum this week.  It’s called A World Apart Next Door: Glimpses Into Lives of Hasidic Jews. Through photos, video, music, books and clothing the exhibit tells the story of Hasidim, “a community whom we live next to but not too many of us know much about,” as Museum director James Snyder told a group of visiting journalists.

Clothing worn by Hasidic kids

The white walls of this part of the Museum are hung with samples of clothing worn by kids, men and women of the various Hasidic sects and there are rare books owned by the founders of Hasidism.  A variety of life -cycle objects are on display, as well as an attractive selection of photos of intense-looking Jews engaged in celebrations of all kinds, and footage of thousands of Hasidic men engaged in rebbe reverence at their rebbe’s tish.

Mitsve-tanz of the bride with her father, the Rachmestrivke Rebbe Photo: Yuval Nadel

What you won’t see are pictures of Hasidim throwing rocks at cars on Shabbat, protesting the opening of parking lots on Shabbat, halting work at an archeological site or taunting schoolgirls in Beit Shemesh.

Do we assume that it’s only Litvish Chareidim who are involved in such things, and that the Hasidim are really a bunch of happy-go-lucky yidden who just like to speak Yiddish and dress funny?

Curator of the exhibit, Ester Muchawsky-Schnapper, spent years cultivating relationships with the various Hasidic communities and expressed the hope that “our eyes be opened to a culture we don’t know much about.”

Nice–but maybe the next exhibit should be Hasidim and Chareidim: A World Apart Next Door…



About the Author
Author of Jerusalem Diaries: In Tense Times and Jerusalem Diaries II: What's Really Happening in Israel plus reams of blogs since 2001. Former host of the Jerusalem Diaries Show on VoiceofIsrael.com. I try to shed a little light on the quixotic, inspiring, frustrating and amusing aspects of life in the holy city.