The Tauber Institute for the Study of European Jewry

Untold Tales of the Hasidim: Crisis and Discontent in the History of Hasidim

David Assaf

Cover of "untold Tales of the Hasidim" with painting of a man sitting at a table studying a book.

Reveals the untold tale of shocking events and anomalous figures in the history of Hasidism

This fascinating volume reveals some of the dark, dramatic episodes concealed in the folds of the hasidic cloak—shocking events and anomalous figures in the history of Hasidism. Using tools of detection, Assaf extracts historical truth from a variety of sources by examining how the same events are treated in different memory traditions, whether hasidic, maskilic,or modern historical, and tells the stories of individuals from the hasidic elites who found themselves unable to walk the trodden path. By placing these episodes and individuals under his historical lens, Assaf offers a more nuanced historical portrayal of Hasidism in the nineteenth-century context.

“David Assaf here uncovers some fascinating and little-known events in the tumultuous history of Hasidism. A fascinating peek into the ‘closet’ of what may still turn out to be modern Judaism's most important religious movement.” —Arthur Green, Rector, Rabbinical School, Hebrew College

“The book illuminates a series of little known dramatic episodes, tragic events, and anomalous figures in nineteenth to early twentieth century Hasidism, each representing a moment of crisis whose memory has been suppressed or obscured for apologetic reasons. The author has reconstructed them meticulously out of newly discovered or carefully assembled fragments of information, producing a historical narrative as compelling as a detective novel.” —Ada Rapoport-Albert, University College London

About the Author

David Assaf is Professor of Modern Jewish History at the Department of Jewish History, Tel Aviv University. His field of expertise is the history and culture of traditional Eastern European society, of Hasidism especially.