The remarkable new book Historical Atlas of Hasidism takes a deep dive into the physical realms of Hasidic Jews since the movement’s founding in eastern Europe the 18th century.
Supplementing the text with 74 maps, plus historical and contemporary photographs, diagrams, charts, and other images, it presents a complex, and eye-opening picture of the development of the movement — concentrating on the places where Hasidic Jews have lived, prayed, studied, traveled, moved to, and established communities, from the origins of Hasidism in Eastern Europe until the present, in Israel and the Americas as well as Europe.
That means synagogues, shtibls, schools, rabbinical “courts,” neighborhoods, and Jewish cemeteries with the ohels and tombs of renowned rabbis.
Published by Princeton University Press, the book was authored by Jewish Studies Prof. Marcin Wodziński, of the University of Wrocław, Poland, with the colorful, detailed cartography by Waldemar Spallek, who teaches geographic information systems and cartography at Wrocław.
While it’s an academic volume, the book is also designed for general readers.
“The atlas presents in a visually attractive, easy-to-understand cartographic form the spatial, physical, and visual dimension of a mystical movement,”Wodziński states in a Q-and-A on the publisher’s web site.
“More than that, it demonstrates the meaningful interrelations between the movement’s spatiality and spirituality […] we, the cartographer and I, made a lot of effort to make it accessible, attractive, and engaging for a wide group of non-academic readers, too, e.g. those interested in Jewish history, Judaism, and history of religion more generally. Also, as the maps contain much geographical detail, e.g. thousands of places of residence of Hasidic leaders, thousands of Hasidic prayer halls, this will be of interest also to lay readers interested in local history, family histories, etc.
See a video of Marcin Wodziński speaking about the book:
The Historical Atlas of Hasidism is arranged in nine main chapters, with subsections dealing with specific topics.
There is much information — and a wealth of photographs — on physical built heritage sites related to Hasidism, including synagogue and tombs; as well as:
- Hasidic Courts (including the topography of a Court)
- Shtiblekh – Prayer Rooms
- Hasidic Yeshivot in Interwar Poland
- Pilgrimage Sites
We post here a brief gallery of some of our own photos of such sites in Europe today.