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Hidden Heretics: Jewish Doubt in the Digital Age

Sunday, May 31
4 – 5 p.m.

Join us for a conversation between Ayala Fader and Robert Orsi on the digital book launch of Fader’s Hidden Heretics: Jewish Doubt in the Digital Age (Princeton University Press, 2020). In stories of conflicts between faith and self-fulfillment, Hidden Heretics explores the moral compromises and divided loyalties of individuals facing life-altering crossroads. This is a revealing look at Jewish men and women who secretly explore the outside world, in person and online, while remaining in their ultra-Orthodox religious communities.

What would you do if you questioned your religious faith, but revealing that would cause you to lose your family and the only way of life you had ever known? Hidden Heretics tells the fascinating, often heart-wrenching stories of married ultra-Orthodox Jewish men and women in 21st century New York who lead “double lives” in order to protect those they love. While they no longer believe that God gave the Torah to Jews at Mount Sinai, these hidden heretics continue to live in their families and religious communities, even as they surreptitiously break Jewish commandments and explore forbidden secular worlds in person and online. Drawing on five years of fieldwork with those living double lives and the rabbis, life coaches, and religious therapists who minister to, advise, and sometimes excommunicate them, Fader investigates religious doubt and social change in the digital age.

Ayala Fader received her Ph.D. from New York University and is currently a 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 (Princeton 2009). Her recent fellowships include the National Science Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities in support of her latest book, Hidden Heretics: Jewish Doubt in the Digital Age (Princeton, 2020). Fader is the co-founder and co-convener of the New York Working Group on Jewish Orthodoxies at Fordham’s Center for Jewish Studies.

Robert Orsi is the Grace Craddock Nagle Chair of Catholic Studies at Northwestern University, where he is also professor of religious studies, history, and American studies. Professor Orsi studies modern and contemporary religion, with a special focus on Catholic practices and ideas, from both historical and ethnographic perspectives. He also researches and writes on theory and method in the study of religion. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and has been a recipient of fellowships from the NEH and the Guggenheim Foundation. His books include, The Madonna of 115th Street: Faith and Community in Italian Harlem, 1880-1959; Thank You, Saint Jude: Women’s Devotion to the Patron Saint of Hopeless Causes; and Between Heaven and Earth: The Religious Worlds People Make and the Scholars Who Study Them. His most recent book is History and Presence (2016, Belknap Imprint of Harvard University Press).

All Fordham events in Jewish Studies are free. This event will be a webinar via Zoom. Link will sent 1-2 days prior.

Questions? Contact:
Fordham Jewish Studies



This event is open to alumni, faculty/staff, parents, students, and the public.