KU Professor, Oxford Press Author Fabricates Odd Anecdotes About Hasidic Life


The New Republic’s Alice Robb quotes as follows Lynn Davidman,  Professor of Modern Jewish Studies, Sociology and Religion at Kansas University:

"The Satmar Hasidic group lives in a place called Kiryas Joel in [Orange County] New York. There is only one entrance to the community, and it’s also the exit. On Saturday [the Sabbath], it’s locked: Nobody gets in or out."
The problem with this quote is that the Village in question has about a half a dozen entry points; including two main entrances non of which are physically locked down. These are easily checkable facts, yet Professor Davidman chose to fabricate things on the go.

Oxford University Press (OUP) is in the process of publishing a book written by Professor Davidman. The Author interviewed forty, once-Hasidic people for the book and told TNR that people rarely leave the Community because “they are afraid of being disowned by their family.” But when speaking about those forty Men and Women “none of them were disowned,” Professor Davidman said. Basically, the Professor’s first-hand interviews debunked a myth about how Hasidic families treat their members yet she anyway suggested otherwise in the first part of the interview.

Further in the TNR interview, Professor Davidman said that “a [Hasidic] man’s supposed to be studying at yeshiva all day” and suggests that only after leaving the Community do Men work. This is an outrageous fabrication since most Hasidic Men are in the labor force.

In promoting the book, OUP writes “[the] Author uses her own experiences and reflections to interpret the experiences of the interviewees.” One has to wonder how OUP verifies the author’s experiences if she contradicts herself on core points and blatantly fabricates anecdotes that an easy search on a map or a tour in those Communities prove otherwise.

While Professor Lynn has a right to live the life she desires, she is not entitled  to fabricate medieval type anecdotes about a Community. It would be prudent for news outlets; universities and publishing houses to carefully examine and review the work and words of Professor Davdman before publishing/quoting/carrying them in any manner.

UPDATE: OJPAC thanks the Editors at The New Republic for moving quickly to correct the record regarding the entrance to Kiryas Joel.




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