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HasidismKey Questions$
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Marcin Wodzinski

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780190631260

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: July 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190631260.001.0001

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(p.133) 4 Demography

Marcin Wodziński

Oxford University Press

This chapter revisits the oft-discussed issue of the Hasidic movement’s alleged “conquest” of Eastern Europe and its demographic parameters. How many Hasidim really were there and when did this “conquest” take place? First, by introducing rich quantitative materials and by a close reading of qualitative sources, this chapter arrives at a new scheme of development of Hasidism that challenges much of the accepted knowledge on the Hasidic “conquest” of Eastern Europe. More specifically, it demonstrates that Hasidic penetration into Jewish Eastern Europe reached its peak in the mid- and late-nineteenth century, and not around 1800, as historiography traditionally has claimed. Second, it qualifies the very concept of the Hasidic “conquest” and “dominance” by demonstrating a much more nuanced interrelation between the numbers of Hasidim and their power and influence.

Keywords:   Hasidism, historical demography, Galicia, Belarus, central Poland, Podlasie, Kalisz, tsadikim, extrapolation

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