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Boychiks in the Hood: Travels in the Hasidic Underground

3.63  ·  Rating Details ·  416 Ratings  ·  49 Reviews
Boychiks in the Hood is your passport to the Hasidic "underworld" -- a destination far different from popular expectations. Join Robert Eisenberg as he hangs out with an ex-Deadhead in Antwerp, makes a pilgrimage to the grave of the revered Rebbie Nachman in the Ukraine, munches mini-bagels with Rollerblading kosher butchers in Minnesota, discovers the last remaining relig ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published September 13th 1996 by HarperOne (first published 1995)
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(showing 1-30)
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Aug 23, 2009 Chrisula rated it really liked it
Overall it was a good read and a very interesting look at the different Hasidic subcultures. I learned quite a bit from this book! The author takes a mostly non-judgmental look at Hasidim across the U.S. and in Europe and Israel. By the end you understand the commitment and dedication of Hasidim worldwide, but I also came away with feeling as though Hasidim is too rigid and understand why Conservatism and Reform Jewry emerged. What was also very blatant to me was the focus on men even though the ...more
Oct 12, 2012 holly rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction, jewish
This book is for the uninitiated, those unfamiliar with Hasidic Jewish practices, customs, and beliefs. This would be a good introductory book for someone, particularly as it doesn't spend much time in any one sect or in any one geographic location for very long. The author jetsets all over the Jewish world, and yet spends very little time in Boro Park or Crown Heights, seeking out Hasidim, and spending perfunctory afternoons with them and having superficial interactions with a wacky cast of ecc ...more
Aug 06, 2008 Sean rated it really liked it
Shelves: good-read
I picked this up for about $5 bucks at Bookman's to satisfy my inner jew. I just finished it about an hour ago, and I must say, it's quite good. I'd never seen or heard of it before so it was a lovely revelation.

Eisenberg, is what one might call a Reform Jew. His book, a sort of sociological travelog, looks into a branch of his family that may have been Satmars - one of the many types of Hasidim. He visits all kinds of Hasidim from Williamsburg and Boro Park in Brooklyn NY, St Paul Minnesota, L.
Apr 06, 2008 Aimee rated it liked it
Shelves: judaica
Robert Eisenberg, a descendant of Holocaust survivors, explored the different sects of Hasidim (conservative Jews who follow the teachings of Israel Ba’al Shem Tov) in different parts of the US and the World after learning that his distant forebears were Satmars. Eisenberg, who describes himself and his immediate family as secular, is intrigued by this fact and sets out to learn more about the Hasidim’s beliefs, values, and ways of life. Although Eisenberg is careful to avoid being judgmental, o ...more
Arthur Goldgaber
Feb 18, 2017 Arthur Goldgaber rated it really liked it
Shelves: travel, judaism
I have known about this book for many years. It is already 22 years old, which shows how fast time flies. My sister and brother in law lived in Omaha for several years and knew Bob Eisenberg. The book is relatively short and provides a breezy look at each community Hassidic enclave that Eisenberg visited. Sometimes the chapter focuses on one person and one issue or laws, such as Hassidic legal codes about sex (only marital sex because premarital sex is forbidden), during a long conversation with ...more
Aug 29, 2011 Ellen rated it liked it
I liked this book, which introduces readers to various Hasidic cultures around the world. True to the blurb on the back cover, the book is definately respectful, even though the Yiddish-speaking, non-observant Jewish author does not join the fold by the end of his travels among the Hasadim. He does, however, conclude--a bit sadly--that in the not-too-distant future, the Orthodox will probably be the only Jews left in America, an opinion I happen to agree with. The book is well written, even if i ...more
Levi Amichai
Apr 14, 2012 Levi Amichai rated it really liked it
Interesting. Every time I started thinking about what it would be like to become ba'al teshuvah, though, I had to remind myself that the only reason they were willing to talk to Robert Eisenberg was because he's a man. They wouldn't give me the time of day even if I spoke Yiddish.

It was encouraging to read about all these kids growing up speaking Yiddish, when I was always taught that it was a dying language.

It gives one a sense of what it's like to be a liberal Christian who has to deal with be
Dec 31, 2016 Kristi rated it liked it
The cultural anthropologist in me loves reading books about subcultures in modern society. I first learned about the Hasidim when I lived in Iowa and the Postville meatpacking plant was in the news. This book touches on that, and takes you to many places in the Western world to visit the burgeoning communities of Hasidim around the world. I wish there was a more recent version of this book. I'd love to revisit these places and see how things have changed since 1995!
Dec 05, 2012 Amy rated it it was ok
This book looked incredibly intriguing when I saw it on the shelf of the South American Explorers Cusco Clubhouse book exchange. It is Robert Eisenbergs attempt to expose Jewish Hasidic life to the rest of the world. Aparantly, at that time in 1994, there wasnt too much written about Hasidism. I dont think there is too much more but I have definitely seen something on the Discovery channel about Hasidic Jews. I also grew up near many in a Chicago Suburb close to Rogers Park.

Anyway, this book wa
Debra Askanase
Feb 28, 2010 Debra Askanase rated it really liked it
If I had read this book before moving to Israel, I think I would have found it utterly fascinating. However, since living in Israel (and actually knowing Litvak, Chabad, and Bretslav Hasids), the fascination with "the unknown" is less.

The author grew up in America, speaking Yiddish at home, but not very religious. This language gives him a "pass" into the Hasidic world, which he takes to uncover their lives in Iowa, Israel, New York, New Jersey, St. Paul, and other towns. What was interesting t
Oct 03, 2013 Ginger rated it did not like it
I like learning about other cultures, so I thought I'd really like this book. However, I found it incredibly boring and occasionally gross (I now know more than I need to about what makes a cow kosher). This is basically what I got out of this book: Saying someone is Jewish is almost as vague as saying someone is Christian. And saying someone is a Hasidic Jew is as vague as saying someone is Baptist--there are lots of different Baptist congregations with differing beliefs and cultures and there ...more
Apr 02, 2012 Sam rated it liked it
2 and a 1/2 stars. Interesting and informative read. Published in 1996 it is a bit dated and there were some cultural references that I missed. I think this was an excellent idea for a book. I'm not sure if I would be a bit lost though if I didn't have some knowledge of the background of the various Hasidim. The history was very interesting though and I think this book was written at a very interesting time for the movements. I do think that this book needs an update though. There's probably so ...more
Sep 10, 2008 Patty rated it liked it
I have to say that I was not sure about this author at first. I wasn't sure he was telling the truth about himself. He said, in about chapter 2, that he was from Nebraska. With my typical Eastern bias, I had to sit there and remind myself that there could be Jews in Nebraska. That was my prejudice not his veracity.

This was a fascinating book. When I was in Israel, the Hasidims were the most noticeable. And their presence in Israel causes some issues for less observant Jews. I am very glad I read
Dec 13, 2016 Jennifer rated it liked it
I picked this up at the giftshop in the famous Touro Synagogue in Rhode Island. One point the author makes is becoming truer with every day - the fact that given the current rate of assimilation and intermarriage versus the large birthrate among the Hassidim, in a generation or so the latter will be the majority of the Jewish people.

However, I don't really remember much else, except that it was fun. Can be read in a day.
Oct 21, 2009 Sarah rated it liked it
A fascinating read, but the book is sadly marred by the author's obnoxious penchant for metaphors and pop culture references. He has a difficult time describing anybody or anything without a metaphor; it's incessant. Aside from that, I really enjoyed the information provided about Hasidim all over the world. The author has clearly done his research and has a way of getting his subjects to open up to him. Well done in that regard.
Mar 16, 2008 Stephy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: wandering Jews
Recommended to Stephy by: My Librarian
I enjoyed the heck outta this book twice, and will read it again, once I have lost the feel of it. There are some noble truths here about losing one's heritage and seeking it out again.
There is a lot more out there to learn about Hassidim than I ever imagined, and many ways and time to come of age. the more I learn about other cultures, the more we all seem the same.
Mar 08, 2007 Alisha rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
While I was disappointed to find that the book was not actually about Jewish hoodlums, it was still very enjoyable to read.It was also very informative and introduced communities around the world, many of which tend to be insular. In this way, the author gave a view of their lives that we would otherwise not be privy to.
May 14, 2010 Marshaferz rated it really liked it
A fascinating look at various Hassidic communities. It's rare to find an author that doesn't just lump them all together as a single-minded group of crazies. This was both enjoyable to read and informative.
Fred Gorrell
A young man who learned some Yiddish from his grandmother when she came to live with his family, sets off to explore a variety of Hasidic communities. This is both an interesting cultural exploration and a nice primer on some of the beliefs held in these communities.
Apr 29, 2009 Caitlin rated it really liked it
This is a great non-fiction read about Hasidic Jewish communities around the world. It is seldom dry and the prose is quirkier than most non-fiction books, making it all that much more engaging. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in what I now know is the diverse world of Hasidim.
May 04, 2010 Dana rated it liked it
An engaging and often amusing look at Hasidic communities around the world. A lot of his metaphors and cultural references are so dated that I have no idea what they mean. But it offers insight into the many different branches of Hasidism, and it's full of peculiar facts and entertaining anecdotes.
Nov 06, 2011 Carla rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir
This book was a little disappointing. The book was very confusing, particularly for someone who's not familiar with Hadisim. It took me a long time to get through because of all the terminology...definately not for a person just looking to learn a little about a foreign culture.
Jul 31, 2010 Kate rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library
Stumbled upon this book at the library while looking for another one. It was interesting, but I felt like everything was a little glimpse with no real meat. I guess it's just not really what I was looking for or expecting - so 2 stars.
Oct 26, 2011 Deb rated it really liked it
Great read. Incredible amount of information on the Jewish sect, that I was completely clueless.
Many times, throughout the book, I was laughing at comparisons used & the sense of humor that was used in this writing.
Kalli Taub
Jun 17, 2015 Kalli Taub rated it it was amazing
I highly suggest reading this book- to get a grasp on the shifts in Jewish (global) culture and observance. This may be a little outdated (it's from the 90's, so some of the worldwide pop culture and news references weren't easily understood).
May 25, 2009 Lauren rated it really liked it
Recommended to Lauren by: Matthew Strenger
Shelves: religion
Wow. A book that is actually informative about Hassidim without being either insulting or apologetic. Sweet! My only complaint is that the system he used for transliterating Yiddish could be a little bit clearer.
Oct 07, 2014 Jenine rated it really liked it
Shelves: judaism, nonfiction
Interesting book, used a large variety of interviews, and was not preachy.
Nov 07, 2014 david rated it it was ok
Describing and defining factions.
Aug 08, 2011 Laura rated it it was ok
Found the information interesting but didn't feel that the book flowed well. Seemed a bit hard to follow.
Oct 02, 2012 Katherine rated it really liked it
Shelves: yarm-lit-crit
Excellent, engaging, and offers a new perspective about Hasidim, based mainly around location and geography, not necessarily around sect and custom.
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