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Power, Boundaries and Institutions: Marriage in Ultra-Orthodox Judaism*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 August 2009

David Lehmann
Department of Sociology, Cambridge University [].
Batia Siebzehner
Beit Berl College and Truman Institute, Hebrew University, Jerusalem [].
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The growth in the numbers and influence of ultra-Orthodoxy – the haredim – since the Second World War has changed Judaism worldwide, even though it remains a minority culture. Growth has occurred through the maximization of family size and through the movement of t'shuva (“return”), and it has benefited from state and private subsidies to the institutions of Torah learning (yeshivot and schooling generally), which have become one of the twin pillars of ultra-Orthodoxy. The other pillar is the shidduch, the system of concerted marriage which ensures that more or less everyone gets married, and strengthens the educational institutions which inculcate among prospective brides a preference for a learned husband engaged in full-time study, and for a life devoted to sustaining him.


La croissance en nombre et en influence des groupes ultra-orthodoxes (haredim) depuis la Seconde Guerre mondiale, pour minoritaires qu'ils soient, a changé la face du judaïsme de par le monde. Leur accroissement vient d'un taux sans précédent de natalité, du mouvement de t'shuva (retour ou repentir) et des subventions publiques et privées accordées à l'enseignement de la Torah dans les yeshivot et autres écoles. On a là le premier des deux piliers de l'ultra-orthodoxie. Le second pilier est le shidduch, système de mariages concertés, qui garantit que tous les membres ou presque puissent se marier ; il est renforcé par les institutions éducatives qui inculquent aux jeunes filles une préférence pour un mari érudit qui consacre sa vie à l'étude, avec pour corollaire l'obligation pour elles de le maintenir économiquement.


Der Anstieg und Einfluss ultraorthodoxer Gruppen (haredim), selbst wenn sie in der Minderheit sind, hat seit dem zweiten Weltkrieg das Judentum weltweit verändert. Der Anstieg erklärt sich aus der Kinderzahl, einer t'shuva (retum) Bewegung und den öffentlichen, wie privaten Subventionen, die dem Torahstudium in den yeshivot und anderen Schulen zugute gekommen sind. Es handelt sich um den ersten der beiden Hauptpfeiler des Ultraorthodoxismus. Der zweite ist der shidduch, Heiratsverträge, die es allen oder fast allen ihrer Mitglieder erlauben zu heiraten; er stärkt die Bildungsinstanzen, die die jungen Mädchen glauben machen, daß sie einen gebildeteten Mann, der sich ganz dem Studium widmet, vorziehen sollen, mit der Folge, daß sie ihn unterhalten müssen.

Jewish Institutions and Practices
Copyright © A.E.S. 2009

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