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May

Chasíd, pl. Chasidím (Ashkenazi: Chósid, pl. Chasídim) 'Chasid'


'...we sell a lot of this style of wig to wives of Chasidim -- in fact, that woman over there is married to a Lubavitcher Chasid...'

Literally 'pious one'. All kinds of people may be pious, of course, but the word Chasid generally refers nowadays to 'Ultra-Orthodox' groups perpetuating the heritage of the Chasidic Movement. Arising in 18th-19th century Eastern Europe, Chasidism (in Hebrew,Chasidut ) sought to emphasise the value of piety and spontaneity rather than dry intellectualism -- with charismatic rabbis 'holding court' to adoring followers. Today's Chasidim live mainly in New York and Israel, maintaining a pre-Holocaust Eastern-European ambience and bucking the birth-rate.
    The word Chasid generally refers to men.  Hebrew does have a word chasida, but it means 'a stork'...

My father, an enlightened spirit, believed in man.
My grandfather, a fervent Hasid, believed in God.
The one taught me to speak, the other to sing.
Both loved stories.
But when I tell mine, I hear their voices.
Whispering from beyond the silenced storm,
they are what links the survivor to their memory.
    Elie Wiesel, 'Souls on Fire'

By kind permission of Oxford University Press,
publishers of The Joys of Hebrew by Lewis Glinert.



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Last Modified Last Modified February 12, 2006