Haredism and the Future of Judaism

October 19, 2021

In October 2021, Jewish Currents hosted the second event of a new series devoted to the future of key concepts in society today: The Futures Forum.

This second exciting conversation discussed the future of Judaism worldwide, the growing role that Haredi Jews are playing in it, and what that means for the wider Jewish community.

Curated by David Myers, this conversation featured Nathaniel Deutsch, Ayala Fader, Miriam Moster, Schneuer Zalman Newfield, and Frieda Vizel.

Nathaniel Deutsch is a professor of history at the University of California, Santa Cruz, where he holds the Neufeld-Levin Endowed Chair in Holocaust Studies and is the Director of the Center for Jewish Studies. He is the author of two books on Gnosticism and Jewish mysticism, as well as The Maiden of Ludmir: A Jewish Holy Woman and Her World (The University of California Press, 2003), Inventing America’s Worst Family: Eugenics, Islam, and Fall and Rise of the Tribe of Ishmael (The University of California Press, 2008), The Jewish Dark Continent: Life and Death in the Russian Pale of Settlement (Harvard University Press, 2011), for which he received a Guggenheim Fellowship and which won the Jordan Schnitzer Book Award from the Association for Jewish Studies. In addition, he is the co-editor of Black Zion: African American Religious Encounters with Judaism (Oxford University Press, 2000).

Ayala Fader received her PhD in anthropology from New York University and is currently Professor of Anthropology at Fordham University. She is the author of the award-winning book Mitzvah Girls: Bringing Up the Next Generation of Hasidic Jews in Brooklyn (2009). The National Science Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities supported her most recent book, Hidden Heretics: Jewish Doubt in the Digital Age (2020), which was a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award. Fader is the co-founder of the Seminar on Jewish Orthodoxies at Fordham’s Jewish Studies Program, and she was recently elected a Fellow at the American Academy for Jewish Research.

Miriam Moster is a doctoral student in sociology, a Mellon Humanities Public Fellow and a Wexner Graduate Fellow. Her research explores the experiences and life stories of parents who leave strict religious marriages and communities. Alongside this research, Miriam founded a startup organization, Right to Parent, to support and advocate on behalf of these parents.

She is also a board member of Footsteps, an organization that supports and provides services to individuals who leave the ultra-Orthodox community. She earned her MFA in poetry and BA in philosophy and draws on her humanistic background in her social science research.

Schneur Zalman Newfield is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Borough of Manhattan Community College, City University of New York, and the author of Degrees of Separation: Identity Formation While Leaving Ultra-Orthodox Judaism (Temple University Press, 2020). Newfield is also a host on the Jewish Studies channel of the New Books Network podcast. Visit him online at zalmannewfield.com.

Frieda Vizel grew up in the Satmar village of Kiryas Joel. For the last eight years she has been a tour guide in Jewish Brooklyn. She researches and blogs about Hasidic Williamsburg at friedavizel.com/blog.

David N. Myers is the Sady and Ludwig Kahn Professor of Jewish History at UCLA, where he serves as the director of the UCLA Luskin Center for History and Policy. He is the author or editor of more than fifteen books in the field of Jewish history, including the forthcoming American Shtetl: The Making of Kiryas Joel, a Hasidic Village in Upstate New York (Princeton) with Nomi Stolzenberg. Myers also serves as President of the New Israel Fund.