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Ayala Fader on Jewish Doubt in the Digital Age

NOV 05, 2020 | 6:00 PM TO 7:30 PM



365 Fifth Avenue


November 05, 2020: 6:00 PM-7:30 PM




The Center for Jewish Studies


Please join us for a conversation with Ayala Fader and Omri Elisha on Ayala Fader's new book Hidden Heretics: Jewish Doubt in the Digital Age (Princeton University Press, 2020).

Hidden Heretics tells the fascinating, often heart-wrenching stories of married ultra-Orthodox Jewish men and women in twenty-first-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, Ayala Fader investigates religious doubt and social change in the digital age. Fader shows how digital media has become a lightning rod for contemporary struggles over authority and truth. In following those living double lives, who range from the religiously observant but open-minded on one end to atheists on the other, Fader delves into universal quandaries of faith and skepticism, the ways digital media can change us, and family frictions that arise when a person radically transforms who they are and what they believe.

Ayala Fader, a specialist on contemporary North American Jewish identities and languages in urban centers, is professor of anthropology at Fordham University. Fader's scholarship focuses on issues at the intersection of religion, Jewish Studies, gender and linguistic anthropology (including language and media). She is the author of Mitzvah Girls: Bringing Up the Next Generation of Hasidic Jews in Brooklyn (Princeton).

Omri Elisha is associate professor of anthropology at Queens College and The Graduate Center, CUNY. His research on the anthropology of religion and North American Christianity has focused on conservative evangelical revivalism, faith-based activism, media, and ritual performance. His current work examines notions of expertise, professionalism, and cosmology among contemporary Western astrologers.  He is the author of Moral Ambition: Mobilization and Social Outreach in Evangelical Megachurches (University of California Press).

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Princeton University Press is pleased to offer 30% off Hidden Heretics [] and free shipping through 12/15/20 with discount code CUNY-FG.