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Teshuvah among French Jewish women

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Publication Date: November 1999

Publisher(s): Hadassah International Research Institute on Jewish Women

Author(s): Laurence Podselver

Series: Working Paper Series no. 6, November 1999. pp. 161-167

Special Collection: Berman Jewish Policy Archive

Topic: Culture and religion (Religion and religious groups)
Population and demographics (Women)
Social conditions (History)

Keywords: Women; Generational Issues; Orthodox Judaism; Culture

Type: Brief

Coverage: France


The majority of Lubavitchers now in France come from the families of North African Jews. In becoming ba’alei teshuvah, they managed to remain Jews while breaking away from the culture of their parents. In so doing, they also adopted a form of ashkenazi culture in its most socially visible form. The women “returning” were typically at the end of their adolescence and contemplating the question of breaking away from their parents to forge families of their own or else they were still students deciding whether or not to stop their studies to get married. They often wanted to escape the strictness of their fathers and the old-fashioned ideas those fathers held about women’s lives. Not yet adults, they were having the same conflict with their parents as other children of North African immigrants, trying to honor family tradition as well as wishing to integrate into French society.