About the Book
Publication Date: October 2019
Neo-Hasidism is an approach to Jewish religious life that seeks to learn from the deep spiritual insights of the Hasidic masters and apply them to the lives of men and women who live as full participants in contemporary culture. It believes that the truths of Hasidism – the presence of God everywhere and always, the possibility of finding the magnificent within the everyday, the call to do all things with love and joy, the uplifting of all of life to become a vehicle of God’s service – can be of great value to Jews and others who choose not to live within the strictly bounded world of today’s Hasidic community. Hasidism, a great popular Jewish revival movement of the 18th century, may offer important tools for the renewal of this ancient tradition in our own day as well.
This attempt to re-tool Hasidism for use in the modern world began over a century ago, in the writings of Martin Buber and Hillel Zeitlin. Buber wrote in German, addressing a broad western audience, and his work became widely known. Zeitlin, writing only in Hebrew and Yiddish, had a large following among young Jews in interwar Poland, but was mostly forgotten after his death in the Holocaust.
Neo-Hasidism, quietly present in the writings of Abraham Joshua Heschel, the most important Jewish philosopher of the postwar era, was re-created for American Jews in the 1960’s by two young immigrants from the destroyed world of European Jewry, Shlomo Carlebach and Zalman Schachter-Shalomi. Arthur Green, co-editor of this volume, is the first American-born Jewish thinker to be fully identified with this movement.
A New Hasidism: Roots offers key selections from the writings of each one of these figures, along with introduction and notes. These include both spiritual reflection on the inner life of the individual, seen through a Neo-Hasidic lens, and dreams of creating Neo-Hasidic communities, forerunners of efforts being undertaken again today. A companion volume, Branches, offers essays in the Neo-Hasidic spirit by a wide variety of contemporary authors, as well as by the editors themselves. It opens with Neo-Hasidic credos by both Schachter-Shalomi and Green.