How Newcomers Learn the Language and Culture of Orthodox Judaism
Publication Year: 2012
Published by: Rutgers University Press
Series: Jewish Cultures of the World
Title Series Information
List of Figures
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List of Tables
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This book is intended for multiple audiences: scholars, students, and anyone else who is interested in language, identity, or Jews. While the primary fields that have influenced my research are sociolinguistics, anthropology, and Jewish studies, I have also written this book with other academic fields in mind...
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This book has been over a decade in the making, and many people deserve my thanks. The first and most important acknowledgment goes to the frum Jews who enabled me to conduct my research. Thank you so much for the time you spent as my consultants and for your commitment to...
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In English writing, Hebrew and Yiddish words can be transcribed in many different ways. Some journals and publishers use the Library of Congress system for Hebrew and the YIVO system for Yiddish. The problem is that in the writing of American Jews, words often come from both Hebrew and Yiddish. If I...
1. Introduction: Orthodox Jews and Language Socialization
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The lights come up. In the middle of the stage stands a young man wearing a black hat, full beard, and black suit with no tie. He holds the microphone close and begins chanting a slow Hasidic niggun, a wordless melody, in a minor key. All of a sudden the rhythm section starts up and the singer switches to an...
2. "Now You Look Like a Lady": Adventures in Ethnographic and Sociolinguistic Fieldwork
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To find out how BTs learn Orthodox language and culture, I carried out a three-tiered methodology: a year of ethnographic observation and interviews, recordings of community members’ speech, and an experiment using recorded speech samples. In this chapter I explain these methods and the issues that arose...
3. "He Has Tzitzis Hanging Out of His Ponytail": Orthodox Cultural Practices and How BTs Adapt Them
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One late Friday afternoon, I arrived at the Greenbaums’ home on Parker Street, near the middle of a block that had become very familiar to me. During my fieldwork, I spent several Shabboses and holidays with various families on this block, where twenty- five of the twenty- eight families are Orthodox Jews. Since...
4. "This is Not What to Record": Yiddish, Hebrew, and the English of Orthodox Jews
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This song points to the widespread understanding that American Orthodox Jews, especially men who study in yeshiva, speak a unique combination of four languages: English, Yiddish, Hebrew, and Aramaic. In this chapter, I explain the role of these four languages in Orthodox communities, I give details about how...
5. "Torah or Toyrah": Language and the Modern Orthodox to Black Hat Continuum
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When Orthodox Jews create a profile on the popular online matchmaking service Frumster.com, they must select a category that describes their religiosity. These categories include four that are seen as existing on a continuum from least to most strict in observance and least to most distinct from...
6. "Just Keepin' It Real, Mamish": Why Ba'alei Teshuva Adopt (or Avoid) Orthodox Language
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Rivka Bracha grew up known as Rebecca and had little exposure to Judaism. Two years ago, in her early twenties, she started attending classes at Ner Tamid. Since then, she has spent several months studying in a seminary in Israel, moved to Milldale, and married another Orthodox Jew. She got rid of her tank tops...
7. "I Finally Got the Lingo": Progression in Newcomers' Acquisition of Orthodox Language
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It is clear from the previous chapter that BTs do eventually acquire many of the Yiddish and Hebrew influences in Orthodox Jewish English. But, unlike students learning a foreign language, this acquisition does not happen in a formal language classroom. As I show in this chapter, BTs go through a long and...
8. "A Ba'al Teshuva Freak": Distinguishing Practices of Newly Orthodox Jews
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One Shabbos afternoon, I was lounging around at the Cohen home after a delicious lunch. My belly was still heavy from the cholent, so I preferred to stay in the living room with nine-year-old Avrumy and fourteen-year-old Shmuly rather than join their brothers and sisters who were running around in the...
9. Matisyahu and "My Fair Lady": Reflections on Adult Language Socialization
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During a guitar solo, Matisyahu dances in the middle of the stage. His white tzitzis hang out from under his collar shirt, halfway down to his sneakers. The colorful lights illuminate his contagious smile, just days after he shaved off his iconic beard. He removes his kipah and takes a running leap off the stage...
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Page Count: 288
Illustrations: 6 figures, 16 tables
Publication Year: 2012
Series Title: Jewish Cultures of the World