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MY NAME IS ASHER LEV Dramaturgy Packet By Anh-My Tran, Production Dramaturg August 2012 Sacramento, CA  TABLE OF CONTENTS Production History 3 Glossary of Terms and Concepts 4-6 Art Concepts Glossary 7-10 Author’s Biography 11-12 Baal Shem Tov and the Foundation of Hasidim 13-14 History of Lubavitch Hasidim in Russia 15-17 Hasidism in America 18-19 Clothing Customs 20-25 History of Art in Judaism 26-28 Just for fun: Real life (Famous) Hasidic Jews 29-39  PRODUCTION HISTORY Arden Theater Company/Philadelphia, PA 2009 Jan-Mar, WORLD PREMIERE Playpenn (developmental workshop)/ Philadelphia, PA 2009 Marin Theater Company/Mill Valley, CA 2009 Sept-Oct, WEST COAST PREMIERE Delaware Theater Company/Wilmington, DE 2010 Feb Roundhouse Theater Company/Bethesda, MD 2010 Mar-Apr Milwaukee Repertory Theater/Milwaukee, WI 2010 Sept-Nov Minnesota Jewish Company/Minneapolis, MN 2010 Oct-Nov New Jewish Theater/St. Louis, MO 2010 Oct Pacific Theater/Vancouver, BC, Canada 2011 Jan CANADIAN PREMIER Lyric Stage Company/Boston, MS 2011 Feb Lakewood Playhouse/Lakewood, WA 2011 Feb Arizona Jewish Company/Phoenix, AZ 2011 Mar-Apr Cleveland Playhouse/Cleveland, OH 2011 Apr North Coast Repertory Theater/San Diego, CA 2011 Jun Barrington Stage Company/Pittsfield, MA 2011 Aug-Sept Long Wharf Theater/New Haven, CT 2012 May Teatron Jewish Theater/ Toronto, Canada 2012 Nov  GLOSSARY OF TERMS AND CONCEPTS KABBALAH: The ancient Jewish tradition of the first orally transmitted mystical interpretation of the Bible. It reached the height of its influence in the later Middle Ages and remains significant in Hasidism. SITRA ACHRA: The ‘other side” signifying the forces of evil that underlies all of reality; as in “the side opposite of the holy one” in the Kabbalist tradition. SHABBOS: (Often the Sabbath) A day of religious observance and abstinence from work kept by Jews from Friday evening to Saturday evening and by most Christians on Sunday. ZEMIROS: A 2,000 year old custom of singing table songs of holy joyousness within the Jewish soul in honor of the Sabbath and other Jewish holidays. HASID: (Often Chasid, Chassid, or Hassid) A member of a highly religious and strictly orthodox Jewish sect that originated in Eastern Europe during the 17th &18th centuries. There are many Hasidic groups, e.g. Lubavitchers, Belzers, Satmerers, etc. The names often come from the city or town where the sect originated. "KIBBUD OV": Honor of or respect for one's father. RIBBONO SHEL OYLAM: Master of the Universe. A name for the Almighty. JUDAH MACABEE: Leader of the fight against the Hellenist conquerors of ancient Israel. Their victory is celebrated with the candle-lighting Festival of Lights, Hanukkah. "NARISHKEIT": It means foolishness, silliness, or nonsense.  "OLAV HASHOLOM": “May peace be upon him.” A term applied with respect to people who are no longer living. PAYOS: Earlocks or sidecurls worn by many Hasidic or Orthodox Jewish men. They are worn as a reminder of the Covenant between God and the Jewish people. "OY, VAY IS MIR": Literally, “Oh, it hurts me!” More colloquially it means, “Woe is me.” LADOVER HASIDISM: Ladov is a fictional town in Russia, invented by Chaim Potok for this story. This particular sect bears the most resemblance to the Lubavitch Hasiddim, based in Brooklyn, New York, one of the most open and worldly of the Hasidic groups. YESHIVA: An Orthodox Jewish college or seminary usually applied to orthodox schools. PESACH: Jewish term for the Passover festival. SIDDUR: A Jewish prayer book containing prayers and other information relevant to the daily liturgy. TORAH: The law of God as revealed to Moses and recorded in the first five books of the Hebrew Scriptures. TALMUD: A many volume exposition of the Torah concerning the body of Jewish Law and legend dealing with every aspect of human conduct. MATZO: A crisp biscuit of unleavened bread, traditionally eaten by Jews during Passover. GOY/GOYIM/GOISCHE: An informal, derogatory term for a non-Jew.  SHUL: A Yiddish term for a synagogue. TCHOTCHKE: A small object that is decorative rather than strictly functional; a trinket. ROSH HASHANAH: The name means “Head of the Year” and is observed for two days and begins the first day of the Jewish year. It is the anniversary of the creation of Adam and Eve, the first man and woman, and their first actions toward the realization of mankind’s role in God’s world. REBBE: A Yiddish term for rabbi, especially a religious leader of the Hasidic sect who is the absolute leader and held as the wise arbiter of all things. The use of the term Rebbe is unique to Hasidic Jews.  ART CONCEPTS GLOSSERY TITIAN Source: Artchive.com Christ and the Good Thief, (c. 1566) (Italian High Renaissance Painter, ca.1485-1576) Titian also known as Tiziano Vecelli or TizianVecellio, was an Italian painter and one of the most influential artist of the 16th-century Venetian school. He was born in Pieve di Cadore, near Belluno in the Republic of Venice. Titian was one of the most versatile of Italian painters. He was an expert in portraiture, painting landscape backgrounds and frequently used mythological and religious subjects. His use of color as a method in his painting had a great influence on other painters of the Italian Renaissance and on latter periods of well.  REMBRANDT VAN RIJN Source: Simuliustusetpeccator.wordpress.com The Raising of the Cross (c. 1633) (Dutch Baroque Era Painter and Engraver, 1606-1669) Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijnwas was a Dutch painter and etcher. He is considered to be one of the most important painters in Dutch history as he contributed much to art and influence in the Dutch Golden Age when he painted portraits, self-portraits as well as illustrations of biblical themes. Rembrandt possessed great knowledge of classical iconography. His knowledge of specific texts and his observation of the Dutch Jewish population formed many of his biblically themed paintings.  MARC CHAGALL Source: www.Msgr.ca The Praying Jew (1914) Source: Thepropheticscroll.org White Crucifixion, (c. 1938) (Russian Jewish painter, 7 July 1887 – 28 March 1985) Marc Chagall was a Russian-French artist born in Vitebsk, Byelorussia to a poor Hassidic family. He was one of the most successful artists of the 20th century and was an early modernist. He was an artist in many mediums with works that included paintings, book illustrations, stained glass, stage sets, ceramic, tapestries and fine art prints. His paintings were inspired by the Hassidic world and themes from the Bible. He completed over 100 etchings illustrating the Bible; many of which contained elements from Jewish folklore and from religious life in Vitebsk.  MICHALANGELOS’ “DAVID” Source: Classicalart.wordpress.com David, 1505 MICHAELANGELO’S “PIETA” Source: Classicalart.wordpress.com Pieta, 1499 ABSTRACT EXPRESSIONISM Centered in New York City, 1946 to 1960's, Abstract Expressionism is a type of art in which the artist expresses himself purely through the use of form and color. It non-representational, nonobjective art; which means that there are no actual objects represented. EBERHARD The Eberhard Faber Company was a brand of school pencils and other art supplies. The company originated in 1922 in Germany as a pencil factory and was later founded in New York in 1861. TURPENTINE A traditional solvent used by oil painters and was made from distilled pine tree resin. Turpentine is a strong solvent that dissolves produces toxic fumes and should only be used only with adequate ventilation.  AUTHOR’S BIOGRAPHY CHAIM POTOK Source: Jewishfederations.org (1929-2002) Chaim Potok was born in the New York to orthodox Polish Jewish Immigrants. From a young age he was interested in art and painting and was inspired to become a writer after reading Evelyn Waugh’s “Brideshead Revisited” and James Joyce’s “A portrait of the Artist as a Young Man” both of which stood in conflict with his conservative upbringing as he made efforts to pursue a literary career. In 1950, however he graduated from a Yeshiva University, a Jewish School, with a degree in English literature followed by becoming an ordained Conservative Rabbi at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America and soon after began to teach at several Jewish Colleges. In 1956-1959, Potok earned a Ph.D as a scholar in residence at Har Zion Temple and pursued a doctorate on Philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania. Potok’s body of literary work includes articles and reviews, poems, children’s books, plays, non-fiction as well as fiction in which he explored themes of confrontation between individuality and culture or religion in “The Chosen,” “The Promise,” “Davita’s Harp,” “My Name Is Asher Lev” and “The Gift of Asher Lev.” Sources: Jewishvirtuallibrary.org,“Chaim Potok” Potok.lasierra.edu, “Biography”  AARON POSNER Source: efworld.org He is the co-founder and former artistic director of the Arden Theatre Company (1988-2006) based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where “My Name is Asher Lev” was directed and adapted by Posner himself and received its world premiere in 2009. He is also a former artistic director of New Jersey’s Two River Theatre Company (2006-2010). Posner directed more than 40 productions at Arden and also worked as a director and playwright at major regional theatres including Folger Shakespeare Theatre, Portland Center Stage, Arizona Theatre Company and Actor’s Theatre of Louisville. He also works to adapt literature for the stage. In 1999, he worked with Chaim Potok to adapt his novel “The Chosen” for the stage which won the 1999 Barrymore Award for Best New Play and also worked on adaptations of “Who am I This Time?” By Kurt Vonnegut Jr, “Echoes of the Jazz Age” by Authors of the 1920s, and “Third & Indiana” by Steve Lopez. He is originally from Eugene, Oregon, he graduated from Northwestern University and is an Eisenhower Fellow. Sources: Dramaurge.com, “Aaron Posner Interview: Fully Committed” Playwrightsfoundation.org, “Institute Instructors”  BAAL SHEM TOV AND THE FOUNDATIONS OF HASIDISM Rabbi Yisrael Baal Shem Tov (literally: “Master of the Good Name”) (1698-1760) was born in a village called Okopy, originally a part of Poland and now is part of present day Ukraine. Preceding his birth in 1648-1649, European Jews suffered under Pogroms leaving thousands of Jews dead and in poverty. As a result, it caused a socio-cultural gap in the next generation with a bias between the elite population of Jews who could afford to give their children a Torah education versus the impoverished Jews who did not have access to the proper knowledge but were as equally pious and devout. Source: Kabbalahsecrets.com This was the social environment that Baal Shem Tov was born into. However, since he was the son of a Tzaddik, a type of Jew that is unusually pious, devoted and full of humility but one who chooses to remain hidden in society, from his father, he was taught to love every Jew with the same level of compassion no matter whom it is. He took this idea that was ingrained in him since childhood to heart. In his adult years, he became surrounded and mentored by other Tzaddikim and therefore continued in his knowledge of Tzaddikim spiritual teachings. After Baal Shem Tov became a leader of a Tzaddikim secret fellowship and studied Kabbalah, or Jewish mysticism, he developed a deep insight into human nature and became a healer for both mind and body. Around this time, he also began to set the foundation for his ideas and teachings. In 1734, he began to preach openly and ushered in of a new era of Jewish thought but was met with strong opposition from traditional Jewish teachings. He differed from traditional Jewish thought with his the belief that the Torah places an emphasis on optimism and joy; thus, it should be the way to serve God. He also promoted the idea that Godliness permeates even through the most mundane everyday task and preached that the simple intent and devotion of an unlearned Jew was just as holy as one who devoted his life to advanced Torah study and that everyone could have a direct and authentic relationship to God and therefore, all Jews are equal. Emphasis of the study of Kabbalah and mysticism were also important.  Today though, Hasidic Jews are surprisingly seen as being Ultra-Orthodox, but they were once viewed as revolutionaries of Judaism at the dawn of Hasidism. To learn the Torah, especially amongst the Lubavitch sect, is still believed to be one of the most important obligations as Hasidic Jews follow the Torah’s 613 commandments; but personal piety is still a just as important attribute as originally taught by Baal Shem Tov. Sources: Chabad.org,“The Baal Shem Tov-A Brief Biography” Pbs.org, “A life Apart: Inside the Community: a Holy Life.”  HISTORY OF LUBAVITCH HASIDISM IN RUSSIA The Hasidic movement, founded by Baal Shem Tov, spread throughout Poland around the mid1700s. However, due to the partition of Poland in 1772, 1793 and 1795 caused by Russia, Prussia and Austria wanting to claim the territory, new borders of the country were eventually drawn. In 1791, Catherine the Great of Russia invaded Poland and two years, claimed half the territory. This left thousands of Jews newly incorporated into the Russian empire splitting the Hasidic community of Poland. As a result, it gave rise to the different formations of Hasidic courts or sects based on the different ideas and doctrines of Rebbes who spread Hasidism through emissaries throughout Eastern Europe with theoretical schools and institutions. As the communities became consolidated and more secluded within the new territory, the court became their unifying center for worship and community which is how the role of leadership of the Rebbe developed into such a dynastic style. The Lubavitch sect of Hasidism emerged in Russia around this time and was organized by Rebbe Schneur Zalman of Liadi (1745-1812) and was succeeded by his son Dovbar Schneur who became the second Lubavitch Rebbe in 1812-1827. The term “Lubavitch” is from the name of the town in southern Russia; it means “City of Brotherly Love.” Rebbe Schneur Zalman preached a new school of Hasidic thought called the Chabad movement which mirrored the Baal Shem Tov’s teachings of looking deep within one’s soul as a source of piety and remembering to have love and compassion for all Jews. Chabad and Lubavitch are now interchangeable terms referring to the same sect. The followers today are often called “Chabadniks.” In 1797, the Hasidic movement fell under an accusation of conspiring against political leaders which lead to Rebbe Schneur Zalman being imprisoned in St. Petersburg and left a following suspension of all other Hasidic Jews. However, due to the partition of Poland, a portion of Poland’s Jewish community found themselves under the Russian rule. Because they had an autonomous religion and culture they were pressured to assimilate into the greater society as they did not fit the conception of Slavic identity. Under the policy of Alexander I in 1804, the community was forced to either assimilate or renounce their religion; and so they were organized into a Pale of settlement, a boundary in which the Jews were to become a legal entity and subject to the Russian law. However, while all Jews were required to live in the Pale of Settlement, Rebbe Schneur Zalman was released by Alexander I and was given an exemption and permission to continue his religious teachings. Meanwhile, as Jews were becoming more assimilated into the Russian society, they ironically remained impoverished as better health care led to higher birth rates but at the same time there was an increase in competition for employment. Additionally, around 1827, the Jews were  subject to continuous policies under Nicholas I who sought to alienate them from their religion by forcing them to enlist into the army and also approving of an organized kidnapping of Jewish children in order to re-educate them within the Christian religion and serve as “Cantonists” or child soldiers under this system. Followed by the industrial revolution in the 1860s in which Jews started to participate in intellectual and cultural life with careers in law and entrepreneurship, the elevated position of Jews consequently, caused a negative reaction and sparked waves of Slavophile nationalism which only worsened after being blamed for the assassination of Alexander II in 1881 and then being attacked by anti-Semitic campaigns and pogroms until 1905. Despite all of this, the mission of Lubavitch emissaries however, were as strong as ever as they continued to spread their doctrine to Jewish communities across the Czarist Empire, sought to reeducate the unlearned descendants of the Canonists and to also increase Jewish education and standards of religious practice in all of the communities. The third Chabad leader Rebbe Yosef Yitzchok Schneursohn (1880-1950), who took the name from his Rebbe descendants with the patronymic Schneursohn from Schneur, was the leader of the Lubavitch court around the time of the Bolshevik revolution in 1917 as well as the Stalin Era beginning in 1928. As Joseph Stalin established the Soviet Union, his new policy of Socialism denied the existence of any national identity. Thus, the Jewish population was once again uprooted and disrupted, the practice of Judaism and religious education was banned, Synagogues were closed down, religious books and objects confiscated and the Hebrew language became outlawed. Additionally, around this time, all Jews, particularly Hasidic Jews were arrested, exiled or put to death and suffered through about 2,000 pogroms leaving 100,000 Jews dead and about 500,000 homeless. Nevertheless, Rebbe Yosef Yitzchok Schneursohn vowed to preserve Judaism in the Soviet Union. In 1924, he organized ten branches of religious underground institutions, places of worship and education in hundreds of towns and cities across Russia. The Rebbe, who was under constant surveillance by the communists, was arrested in 1927 and then banished from Russia. He then spent some time in Palestine and Poland. In 1940 he was then granted diplomatic immunity to come to America and he settled in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, New York where he immediately started a campaign to establish Jewish schools for children and adults, printing presses and other institutions for other arriving Hasidic Jewish immigrants. However, Rebbe Yosef Yitzchok’s banishment did not halt the fight to preserve Judaism in the Soviet Union as his nephew Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneersohn took his place around 1941 and continued to fight for the Jews of Russia. He sent couples posing as tourists, or emissaries to help strengthen the underground institutions. The emissaries would memorize hundreds of names and addresses across the many cities and towns carrying with them hidden kosher foods, Jewish  books and other materials to remind the Jews of Russia that others outside of the country remembered and cared. The presence of Jewish religious life in Russia today owes its existence to the underground institutions and to the Jews that vowed to fight for and preserve their Judaism in the Soviet Union. Sources: Chabad.org, “Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi (1745–1812)” Chabad.org, “The Former Soviet Union” Friends-partners.org,“Beyond the Pale” Lubavitch.com, “History of Russia-Till Today and Lubavitch Today” People.ucalgary.ca, “Chabad-Lubavitch Hasidism” Yivoencyclopedia.org, “Historical Overview”  HASIDIM IN AMERICA The Hasidic Jews from across Europe that were displaced by the Holocaust (1933-1945) and the Stalin regime (1922-1952) resettled across the globe in to Western Europe, Israel, Canada, Australia and the United States with the largest communities of Hasidism in Los Angeles and New York to join the waves of Rebbes who already began to establish Hasidic courts and smaller communities as early as 1912 in Boston, Baltimore, Ohio and Chicago. The New York Hasidic Jewish communities were established after World War II and, as recently as 1998, had approximately 165,000 Hasidic Jews who live in 3 neighborhoods in Brooklyn. The Satmars (of Hungary) and Klausenbergs (of Romania) reside in Williamsburg, the Bobover (of Poland) and Belz (of Ukraine) in Boro Park, and the Lubavitch (of Russia) in Crown Heights; each make up about 60 courts of a few small families and their Rebbes. In the mid-1960s, the number of Hasidic Jews in New York was about 40 to 50 thousand and in the next following twenty years the population doubled to about 100,000 in the 1980s. The Hasidic Jews formed a closed community in order to keep themselves spiritually clean by observing biblical values of purity and contamination. A separation from the greater American secular society is seen as a mode of self-protection that allows them to be united around religion to maintain its sacredness and also to provide a sense of identity and roots. Their observance of strict rules allows them to preserve their traditions and keep a close community. Children are educated in a separate school system or attend private schools known as Yeshivas in which religious studies and instruction in Yiddish and Hebrew is the main focus. However, Hasidic students are now required by law and by the U.S. constitution to learn additional secular curriculum such as math, science, art and English. College and graduate education is discouraged as it is a source of cultural contamination. As a result, many seek jobs that allow them to stay close to their community and instead favor secular education for employment that involves technical training, go into retail and manufacturing or are self-employed. Women are usually employed by relatives, run small businesses or work as teachers or social workers in the community. Though Hasidic Jews seek to maintain a separate community, most sects do however use technology as a means to enhance and strengthen their culture and connections to other Hasidic Jews worldwide. Yet many of the Hasidic courts are divided on the limit of how open they should be to technology or to other secular customs. The Satmar court are one of the most closed and separatist community who actively resist all influences from the greater secular culture; whereas the Lubavitch court are one of the most visible and embrace technology, approve of some secular customs such as baseball, encourage religious and secular education for women  and are active in community and global outreach. Lubavitch Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneursohn taught that modern technology does not contradict spirituality. He emphasized this idea in his teachings of unity of opposites; and so modern technology such as television, satellite feeds and the internet are encouraged to spread the religious message. In fact, the Lubavitch are so visible that it they maintain a worldwide organization in order to uphold the honor and traditions of Rebbe Yosef Yitzchok Schneursohn and Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneursohn who fought to maintain Jewish religion and life in Russia during the Stalin and Holocaust era by establishing the underground religious institutions and schools. Also, many families act as shluchim (emissaries or representatives) of the Rebbe and Lubavitch Hasidim and promote outreach to all Jews outside of the Hasidic community with friendliness, compassion, tolerance and self-less dedication to strengthen religious education and spiritual life. The Lubavitch organization has over a thousand institutions around the world and has, for example, 300 institutions in Israel, 90 in Russia, 60 in Canada, 15 in South Africa, 10 in Italy, 3 in Spain as well as 600 establishments across the United States. Sources: Chabad.org, “Chabad-Lubavitch” NYU.edu, “Voices of New York” PBS.org, “A Life Apart: Inside the Community: a Holy Life.” Sunypress.edu, “Introduction: New World Hasidism”  CLOTHING CUSTOMS The different sects of Hasidism dress in the tradition of the late-medieval polish nobility that originated 300 years ago. Additionally, each community that emerged throughout Europe adapted to the different customs and styles based on their sect’s European origins. Hasidic Jews place emphasis on uniformity in dress in order to distinguish themselves as being a part of the orthodox Jewish community. Tznius (modesty) also plays a fundamental role in the dress for both genders. Each gender has a certain style of clothing and must be made of a certain fabric, maintain a certain length and other rules which govern how and when to wear specific religious garments. TALLIT AND TZITZIZ Source: Orthodox-jews.com The tallit is a four-cornered prayer shawl with fringes and the tzitziz is attached to the corners. Each is worn in order to observe the commandment that states, “Speak to the children of Israel, and bid them that they make them fringes on the borders of their garments throughout their generations...” (Numbers, 15:38). Two sets of the tzitzit each hang in the front and back and each corner has eight complete strings that symbolize the four directions of East, South, West, and North to represent that that God is everywhere. The larger prayer shawl is known as tallit gadol (“big tallit”) which is simply a piece of material that is worn over the shoulders during morning prayers. It is usually made in a variety of colors and made in any material except one cannot use both linen and wool on the same garment as it is  forbidden by the Torah. Additionally there is a smaller tallit which is a garment that looks like an apron hanging out from under a vest or shirt. Married men are required to wear tallit and it is the custom to start to wear the tzitzit when a young boy reaches age 3. PAYOS (PL. PAYEES) The payos (pronounced pay-us) and beard are worn in observance to a commandment of the Torah, “You shall not round the corners of your heads, nor mar the edges of your beards” (Leviticus, 19:27). At age 3, all Hasidic boys undergo a haircutting ceremony called upsherin, in which they receive their first haircut. It is cut back to the skull except for the payos side- locks which are kept long enough to curl around the finger. At this time, a boy also receives his first tzitzit. The upsherin signifies that he is no longer a baby, but he is now a child. However, the Lubavitch Hasids, unlike the Bobov or Satmar, do not wear payos as adults, and the tradition is only practiced until the young Lubavitch boy is old enough to grow a beard. Beards are also a part of the commandment and it is not to be cut but may be trimmed back. Source: Pinker.wjh.harvard.edu  YARMULKES AND OTHER HATS Source: Crownheights.info The skullcap, yarmulke (Yiddish) or kippah (Hebrew) are worn by both Hasidic Jews as well as non-Orthodox Jews. It is a less frequent custom that women in Conservative and Reform communities may wear them. It represents that God is always above them. Boys usually start to wear them at age 3. The yarmulke was originally an indoor hat; but it is a custom now that a yarmulke is worn under a hat. A yarmulke is worn throughout the entire day even when the Hasidic person is sleeping and, unlike Western customs where one must take their hat off at the dinner table, a Hasidic man will keep a yarmulke or the hat on even during family meals and if not wearing it, one will be asked to put one on. Lubavitch men wear yarmulkes that will vary in color from dark blue velvet with elaborate gold stitching or a simple black cotton yarmulke with no embroidering. Lubavitch men wear the black Borsalino fedoras with their yarmulke to distinguish themselves as being a part of the Hasidic community. Source: Jewishhumorcentral.com  The Lubavitch Rebbes and married men of the Satmar sect of Hungary and Klausenberg sect of Romania wear a shtreimel, a fur hat that is worn during Shabbos, other Jewish holidays and weddings. It is symbolic of wearing a crown and is one of the most expensive Hasidic clothing items as it custom made from genuine fur from the tails of foxes or sables. The shtreimal costs around $1,000-$4,000. Source: Hashkafah.com WOMEN’S WIGS AND OTHER HEADCOVERINGS It is the custom for Hasidic and non-orthodox Jewish Women to cover hair after marriage with any type of head covering such as a sheitel (a wig), a hat or a scarf. Many women however prefer to keep their own hair very short because it is easier to put under a wig. Satmar women shave their heads completely, wear a sheitel and also wear a scarf over it. But in general there is no religious requirement to shave one’s head. Bobov women wear a tichl, which is something that looks like a turban and often fastened with a brooch whereas Lubavitch women often wear snoods. Though it is encouraged for Lubavitch women to wear sheitels in public but wear snoods at home. Some Rebbes have concerns over the wearing of wigs as they look so natural that one would not be able to tell the difference between a wig and a woman's real hair. So, many women, to indicate that there hair is covered, wear synthetic wigs instead of one made with real hair.  Source: Ilovehishmatheblog.blogspot.com Source: Fancymag.com OTHER WOMEN’S CLOTHING The standards of traditional clothing for Hasidic women depend on each sect. Some sects avoid wearing bright colors; especially the color red and tend to stick to black and white colors. Shirts must have sleeves that at least should cover the elbow and collarbone. For some Hasidic Jewish women however, it is acceptable to wear shirts with shorter sleeves or have the collarbone showing. For the most part, skirts should be loose fitting, must cover the knees while sitting and may not have a slit. The Satmar sect, for example, must wear skirts that are 4 inches below the knee. Skirts are worn by Hasidic Jewish women because it is prohibited to wear clothing that reveals the shape of the legs. Also, the women must not wear pants as it is seen as men’s apparel and must obey rules biblical rules against cross dressing. Also they may not even wear pants at home. Girls start w earing stockings at age 3 to 6 years old. Women wear stockings that range in a lighter nylon to heavier seamed stockings depending on the level of modesty as prescribes by each sect.  OTHER MEN’S CLOTHING Hasidic men often wear black because it is seen as a conservative color and it is symbolic for a lack of ego. Also, all Hasidic men must wear suits. After a boy’s bar mitzvah at age 13, he starts wearing a dark suit with a brimmed hat or a fedora. Lubavitch men in particular, wear black suits with a waist length jacket with a white or blue shirt. Most married men wear a long black Kapoteh (frock coat) with a unique waist seam with four buttons in the front as well as a slit in the back. Source: Chabad.org When it comes to wearing glasses, some Hasidic sects only wear a certain style of plastic glasses in order keep accessories as traditional as possible. Metal framed glasses are considered modern. Mostly the Satmar follow this custom of keeping accessories as traditional as possible. Additionally, watches are the only acceptable form of jewelry amongst all the sects. Sources: Chabad.org, “Why the Long Black Coat?” Fancymag.com, “Rebbe to Wear” Orthodox-jews.com, “Jewish Clothing” Patheos.com, “Modesty: Not Just for Women” Pinenet.com, “The user-friendly FAQ on Hasidism (Chassidism): PART 2 of 3”  HISTORY OF ART IN JUDAISM The Jewish religious law of the Torah governing the rules of art is called Halakha. It guards against any practice of idol worship or creating any representations or depictions of God. The Torah explains, “Thou shalt not make thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above or that is in the earth beneath or that is in the water under the earth” (Exodus, 20:4). The rules of Halakah are also used as a counter statement against paganism. Throughout the Middle Ages the Jewish law took note that Christianity practiced idolatry through the iconography of Jesus Christ. So for centuries, the Jewish culture did not make any significant contributes to art. But despite the rules of Halakha, Jewish art did existed in various practices from everything from architecture, to ceremonial and ritual art to religious iconography; and in the early 19th century to the present there was a surge of re-defining art in the Jewish culture. Torah crown. ca. 1886-1922. Yeshiva University Museum. Source: Flickr.com Throughout antiquity, Jewish art made by Jews had always existed in some way or another. Initially art was used for ceremonial and ritual objects such as for Torah crowns, havdalah spice boxes and kiddush cups. Bezalel, the first known Jewish artist on record, was a sculptor, an architect and designer of holy garments as well as being well-known for building the now lost Ark of the Covenant which was a portable temple commanded to be built by God to Moses and was carried by the Israelites wandering the deserts of Egypt.  Likewise, there were records of Jewish architecture that utilized religious iconography. For example, the first temple in Jerusalem built by King Solomon in 957 BC was said to be overlaid with gold and decorated with cherubim. A third century synagogue in Syria contained frescoes that portrayed human figures in biblical scenes. Also, Israel’s sixth century Beit Aleph synagogue depicted human figures in scenes from the binding of Isaac. Other Jewish art included images of community life such as birth, bar mitzvahs, marriage and rabbis. However, there was a great loss of early Jewish art prior to the 16th century as a result of many exiles and pogroms. Jews found ways around the rules of Halakha though the interpretation of verses about types of graven images and applied it to Orthodox Judaism. Through textual analysis of the Halakha with statements such as, “It is forbidden to make complete solid or raised images of people or angels, or heavenly bodies except for the purposes of study” (Exodus, 141:4-7), Jews were able to justify the incorporation of angels, astronomical bodies and other mythological figures with the clear intent to not use them as idols or for worship; so as to differentiate themselves from pagans who did worship heavenly bodies. Thus, many artistic depictions in the Middle Ages were of mythical creatures such as the most well-known illustrated manuscript the “Bird’s Head Haggadah” made in Germany around 1300 and was used for Passover rituals. In this manuscript, the humans were depicted has having bird heads which were thought to represent griffins who wore conical hats and clothing that Jews were required to wear in Germany in the Middle Ages. Since humans with bird heads do not exist, it was therefore reasoned that these images would not violate the rule of depicting “anything in the heaven above, on the earth below, or in the water below the land” (Exodus, 20:3-6). Bird’s Head Haggadah. Source: Ultimatehistoryproject.com More recently in history, the 18th century European enlightenment began a period of cultural emancipation with new ideas and social change emphasizing education and the encouragement to establish art academies. Jewish art also peaked at this time and also coincided with the beginnings of the nationalist Zionist movement in 1880 in Palestine. In 1906, the first Jewish art academy, the Bezalel School of Arts, was founded in with the mission to develop original Jewish art, to support Jewish artists and to promote the newfound spiritual and national culture and identity of the land of Israel.  Today there is a new art Gallery called Betzalel in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, New York that opened in May of 2012 under ownership of two Hasidic men, Shmuel Pultman, an art dealer from Boro Park and Dovy Andrusier, a Businessman from Crown Heights. The art gallery focuses on themes of rabbis, Talmudic scholars and Israel that make up the collection of Jewish art. The content is not necessarily made solely by Jewish artists, but should reflect Jewish themes. The Betzalel Art Gallery also joins the Hassidic Art Institute of Crown Heights owned by Zev Markowitz since 1977 as an emerging appreciation of art in the conservative Hasidic community. Sources: Bezalel.ac.il/en, “About Bezalel” Culture.wnyc.org, “Brooklyn’s Hasidic Art Scene Expands with New Gallery” Hyperallergic.com, “A Jewish Art Gallery Opens in the Heart of Brooklyn's Hassidic Community” Jewish-art.org, “Ancient Jewish Art” Jewishvirtuallibrary.org, “The Lost Ark of the Covenant” Modia.org, “Attitude of Judaism toward Art” Myjewishlearning.com, “Jewish Art: A Brief History: Contrary to popular perception, Jewish art dates back to Biblical times” Potok.lasierra.edu, “On Being Proud of Uniqueness” Torah.org, “Part II: Yoreh De'ah: Chapter 11 – IDOLATRY” Ultimatehistoryproject.com, “Understanding the Roots of the Haggadah”  REAL LIFE (FAMOUS) HASIDIC JEWS NEWYORKTIMES.COM Rapper Finds Order in Orthodox Judaism in Israel By DINA KRAFT November 10, 2010 The rapper Shyne at the Western Wall in Jerusalem. “My entire life screams that I have a Jewish neshama,” he said, using the Hebrew word for soul. JERUSALEM — The tall man in the velvet fedora and knee-length black jacket with ritual fringes peeking out takes long, swift strides toward the Western Wall. It’s late in the day, and he does not want to miss afternoon prayers at Judaism’s holiest site. “We have to get there before the sun goes down,” he says, his stare fixed behind a pair of RayBan sunglasses, the first clue that this is no ordinary Jerusalem man of God. It’s the rapper Shyne, the Sean Combs protégé who served almost nine years in New York prisons for opening fire in a nightclub in 1999 during an evening out with Mr. Combs and his girlfriend at the time, Jennifer Lopez.  “My entire life screams that I have a Jewish neshama,” he said, using the Hebrew word for soul. Living as Moses Levi, an Orthodox Jew in Jerusalem (he legally changed his name from Jamaal Barrow); he shuttles between sessions of Talmud study with some of the most religiously stringent rabbis in the city and preparations for a musical comeback. His transition from troubled adolescent in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn, shot at the age of 15, to celebrity gangster rapper turned prisoner turned frequenter of yeshivas, is the latest chapter in a bizarre journey that began with his birth in Belize 32 years ago. He is the son of a lawyer who is now that country’s prime minister and a mother who brought him to the United States and cleaned houses for a living. “The science of Judaism” as Mr. Levi refers to it, has become his system for living, a lifeline that connects him to God and becoming a better human being. He sees no conflict fusing the hip-hop world with the life of a Torah-observant Jew. Mr. Levi speaks in the style of the urban streets but combines his slang with Yiddish-accented Hebrew words and references to the “Chumash” (the bound version of the Torah, pronounced khoo-MASH) and “Halacha” (Jewish law, pronounced ha-la-KHAH). As in: “There’s nothing in the Chumash that says I can’t drive a Lamborghini,” and “nothing in the Halacha about driving the cars I like, about the lifestyle I live.” As a teenager he started reading the Bible, relating to the stories of King David and Moses that he had first heard from his grandmother. At 13 (bar mitzvah age, he notes) he began to identify himself as “an Israelite,” a sensibility reinforced after finding out his great-grandmother was Ethiopian; he likes to wonder aloud whether she might have been Jewish. He was already praying daily and engaged in his own study of Judaism at the time of his arrest but only became a practicing Jew, celebrating the holidays, keeping kosher and observing the Sabbath under the tutelage of prison rabbis. In Israel, he said, he had undergone a type of pro forma conversion known as “giyur lechumra” (pronounced ghee-YUR le-kchoom-RAH). On the December night in 1999 that Mr. Levi walked into a Times Square nightclub, he was a 21-year-old enjoying the fruits of his first record deal and the hip-hop high life. The details of what happened inside remain muddled, but after an argument broke out between Mr. Combs, then known as Puff Daddy, and a group in the club, shots were fired, and three people were hurt. Mr. Combs was charged with gun possession but later cleared in a highly publicized trial. Mr. Levi was sentenced to 10 years in prison for assault, gun possession and reckless endangerment.  The police said he fired into the crowd. He maintains he shot in the air to break up the dispute. He would not say whether he took a fall for his former mentor. “That’s the past, I got so much going on,” he said. “We move on.” What Mr. Levi has moved on to since being released from prison last year is a life in which he is often up at daybreak, wrapping his arms with the leather straps of tefillin, the ritual boxes containing Torah verses worn by observant Jews for morning prayers. Throughout the day he studies with various strictly Orthodox rabbis. “What are the laws?” he said, explaining his decision to adhere to the Orthodox level of observance. “I want to know the laws. I don’t want to know the leniencies. I never look for the leniencies because of all of the terrible things I’ve done in my life, all of the mistakes I’ve made.” On the sprawling stone plaza of the Western Wall, crowded with tourists and worshipers, he clutches a worn prayer book whose leather cover was torn off by prison officials for security reasons. Here he encounters a group of young Ethiopians singing in Hebrew and Amharic about Jerusalem. For a moment he links arms with them, and together they spin, dancing in concentric circles at dizzying speed. With him is his local sidekick, a burly and bearded 30-year-old named Eli Goldsmith who used to run nightclubs in London (his uncle is a prominent music promoter) before he too became religious. Later, with Mr. Goldsmith in the rental car he uses to get around, Mr. Levi sampled tracks from two new albums, “Messiah” and “Gangland,” that are to be released in a joint venture with Def Jam Records. The deal suggests the clout he holds despite not having released an album since 2004. He put the volume on high as he drove through the traffic-clogged roads of an ultraOrthodox neighborhood. In songs like “Am I a Sinner?” he casts his spiritual quest as an escape from prison life and pain, with lyrics like, “Look in your soul and you will find vision that you can’t see through the eye.” Three more albums are scheduled to follow. Touring in the United States remains uncertain; he was deported after his prison release as a felon who does not have citizenship, a ruling he is appealing.  Arriving at a small hummus restaurant, he recited the blessing for bread over a piece of warm pita. With him were two rabbis. Jeffrey Seidel, one of the rabbis, said he been moved by the depth of Mr. Levi’s intellectual curiosity and dedication to Judaism. Their current focus of study together: Sabbath laws. For Mr. Levi they help explain his attraction to Judaism. “What I do get is boundaries,” he said. “Definition and form. And that is what Shabbat is. You can’t just do whatever you want to do. You have to set limits for yourself. “All these rules, rules, rules,” he said with his hand on an open page of the Talmud. “But you know what you have if you don’t have rules? You end up with a bunch of pills in your stomach. When you don’t know when to say when and no one tells you no, you go off the deep.” This article has been revised to reflect the following correction: Correction: November 10, 2010 An earlier version of this article misstated the number of people hurt in the December 1999 nightclub shooting incident. This article has been revised to reflect the following correction: Correction: November 16, 2010 An article on Thursday about the rapper Shyne, who is living as an Orthodox Jew in Jerusalem, misstated his age in 1999 when he was involved in a shooting incident that resulted in a 10-year prison sentence. He was 21, not 19.  NATIONALPOST.COM From neo-Nazi to Hasidic Jew: Former skinhead who discovered his Jewish roots to speak in Montreal By Katherine Wilton Postmedia News Mar 27, 2012 – 12:32 AM ET | Last Updated: Mar 27, 2012 12:36 AM ET Pawel Bromson, a former Polish neo-Nazi, will speak at a fundraiser for Chabad Westmount in Montreal Tuesday. Pawel Bromson grew up in Poland where he and his skinhead friends sometimes roamed the streets of Warsaw, terrorizing Jewish, Arab and black children. On one occasion, he and his mates boarded a train to Auschwitz and vandalized the former concentration camp. They hurled insults at staff members, telling them “the genocide should have been bigger.” Bromson and his peers were suspicious of outsiders and disliked Jews, whom they blamed for Poland’s economic troubles under the Communist regime. “I wasn’t just anti-Semitic, I was anti-everyone,” Bromson recalled.  But Bromson’s life changed forever 14 years ago after his young wife visited a genealogical institute in Poland. His wife suspected she had Jewish roots and while sifting through papers, she noticed the names of Bromson’s maternal grandparents on a register of Warsaw Jews. When a stunned Bromson confronted his parents with the news, they acknowledged their Jewish past. “I thought my life was finished. It was a catastrophe,” he said of the news. Like many Jewish families who had survived the Holocaust in Poland, Bromson’s parents hid their religion from their children in order to protect them from persecution. Over time, Bromson accepted the truth about his Jewish identity and began to explore the religion. He went to synagogue and spoke at length with a senior rabbi about Judaism. He eventually took the major step of converting to Judaism and became a Hasidic Jew. Bromson, 36, will speak about his unlikely journey from neo-Nazi skinhead to Hasidic Jew on Tuesday night at a fundraising event at the Chabad of Westmount, an educational centre that teaches about Judaism. Bromson buried his head in shame Monday afternoon when he was asked about his neo-Nazi past. “Please, don’t ask me,” he said in halting English. “I try to forget, but I can’t.” ‘I thought my life was finished. It was a catastrophe’ Bromson said the Poland he grew up in has changed dramatically over the past 20 years. Over the past few years, some Jews in Warsaw have rediscovered their roots and Bromson said there are now about 600 Jewish families in the city. Before 1939, there were three million Jews in Poland. About 90 per cent of them died in concentration camps during the Second World War. Although he said he feels comfortable walking around Warsaw, his long beard and black hat sometimes draw stares and comments from his fellow Poles.  About two months ago, he bumped into an old friend from his youth. Bromson said the man’s children were baffled about why their father was talking to a Hasidic Jew. “This guy is your friend?” they asked. Deborah Shanowitz, program director at the Chabad of Westmount, said the centre decided to bring Bromson to Montreal because he has a very unusual story. “He was a neo-Nazi who hated Jews and all minorities,” she noted. “After embarking on a path of finding out what it is to be Jewish, he decided to go back and be like his great-grandfather.”  WASHINGTONPOST.COM Hasidic reggae-rapper Matisyahu shaves beard By Emily Wax, Published: December 27, 2011 When Matisyahu’s signature dreidel-shaped disco ball is lowered and the devoutly religious reggae-rapper takes the mike at the 9:30 Club on Wednesday, it probably won’t be his music that fans are talking about. The 32-year-old Hasidic performer first made headlines the week before -Hanukkah when he shaved off his iconic beard and tweeted: “No more Chassidic reggae superstar.” The artist’s untrimmed beard was central to both his musical persona and his piety, since many Hasidic Jews believe that male facial hair is sacred. It’s also an outward symbol of their religious fervor. Since Matisyahu burst onto the scene in 2005 with the Top 40 hit “King Without a Crown,” his lyrics have been filled with his love of Torah and devotion to God, albeit with a Caribbean patois. He’s known to sing the key Jewish prayer, the Shema, at his concerts, and his fans are largely Jewish, though he does draw some rastas.  For Matisyahu, shaving his beard is akin to Tim McGraw taking off his cowboy hat. In a stark photograph that shows him cleanshaven and without his Hasidic black garb, he goes on to tweet: “Sorry folks all you get is me . . . no alias. When I started becoming religious ten years ago it was a very natural and organic process. It was my choice. My journey to discover my roots and explore Jewish spirituality — not through books but through real life. I felt that in order to become a good person I needed rules — lots of them — or else I would somehow fall apart. I am reclaiming myself. Get ready for an amazing year filled with music of rebirth.” Then last week he kicked a female photographer who was taking pictures at his Hanukkah show in Brooklyn. He tweeted that he “snapped” because of the flash in his face. He later issued an apology, saying he “reacted impulsively.” Befuddled fans have flooded Facebook with questions about the Grammy-nominated singer, who is a hero to some in the Jewish world. He was the most visible example of the blending of an ultraOrthodox religious lifestyle with the creative counterculture of reggae and hip-hop. Hasidic Jews separate the -sexes, for instance, and married men are forbidden to touch women who are not their wives or blood relatives. (Matisyahu reportedly once had to turn down an invitation by Madonna to hang out at a Passover Seder.) Matisyahu declined to be interviewed for this article. But California-based Rabbi Eliyahu Fink, who writes the blog Fink or Swim, called the tweet “The Shave Heard Around the World.” “Is his music truly good enough that he will continue to be successful when he is no longer a poster boy for anything other than himself?” asked the irreverent online magazine Heeb, which also joked that the tweet by the “artist formerly known as Matisyahu” was so shocking “it even triggered a JTA [the global Jewish information service] news alert which is normally reserved for terrorist attacks.” Was the Hasid in the hoodie — who is known to fuse beatboxing with orthodox Judaism’s style of songful prayer — forgoing his faith? Or was he simply dialing back his belief? Would his highly religious lyrics — like those to “One Day,” which was played as background music in some television coverage of the 2010 Vancouver Olympics and asks God for a day without violence — vastly change?  So far the answer appears to be no. Matisyahu has been photographed wearing a yarmulke and tweeted that he would pray just as always. On his Twitter account, he also thanked fans who made him kosher food while on tour. But the events have stirred a passionate debate about just how and if the two worlds can blend. A Chabad-Lubavitcher rabbi who knows Matisyahu well, but who asked not to be named, said he felt the pressure was just too much. “While Reggae mirrors some of the warmth in Hasidic life, it has nevertheless a looseness and freedom that just doesn’t jibe with Jewish structural life,” he said. “I pray he finds his way back.” The rabbi’s words speak to a long-running debate in the Hasidic Jewish community: What is the relationship between creative expression and devout religiosity? It’s a struggle chronicled in the Chaim Potok novel “My Name Is Asher Lev,” in which a Hasidic painter struggles to balance his art and his faith. Lani Santo is executive director of Footsteps, a secular organization that provides support to those who leave Judaism's ultra-religious communities. The organization’s Internet mailing list was flooded after Matisyahu’s shaving tweet. “Across the board it’s very challenging for our participants to balance the pursuit of individual creative expression with an ultra-Orthodox lifestyle. There’s not a lot of gray areas,” she said. “What Matisyahu worked to do was really an anomaly in that community.” Matisyahu is known as a Ba’al T’shuva, which means he was born a secular Jew, but decided to take on a religious lifestyle. He was born Matthew Miller and was a musician who, by his own account, started taking hallucinogens and following the rock band Phish on tour. But he changed his name after becoming a follower of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement, a branch of Hasidic Judaism that is seen as more open than others because it reaches out to unaffiliated Jews, often on college campuses, and to Jews living abroad. In many ways, Matisyahu was their most famous member, becoming Billboard magazine’s reggae artist of the year in 2006. (He left Chabad to explore other branches of Hasidism in 2007, saying, “I felt boxed in.” But he continued, for a while, to live with his wife and children in their official headquarters of Crown Heights, Brooklyn.) “It’s a really fascinating moment. But for young Chabadniks who were excited by Matisyahu’s success as a validation of their entree into the mainstream, I’m sure it’s disappointing,” said Sue Fishkoff, author of the book “The Rebbe’s Army: Inside the World of Chabad-Lubavitch.” “He’s a young man searching for his spiritual path,” she said. “He may go through other iterations, like many of us do.”  While some of his fans wonder if he shaved to bolster ticket sales, his friends say they respect what they see as his honesty about his spiritual journey. “It will be interesting to see how things will play out — if he keeps the signature beard and payos [sidelocks] off,” said Erez Safer, chief executive of Shempseed, a recording label that has worked with Matisyahu and other religious musicians. “It had become his brand.”  .