How Jewish do you sound? Learning the lingo as you learn the ropes

I promised a full-length review of Becoming Frum: How Newcomers Learn the Language and Culture of Orthodox Judaism by Sarah Bunin Benor (Rutger’s University Press 2012)  a while back, but I (embarrassing to admit!) lost the book before I completed it! (Yes, I feel guilty.)

becoming frum

Becoming Frum, recent winner of the Rohr Prize

Thank G-d, the book re-emerged from the piles on my desk recently, and I finally completed it over the weekend, allowing me to at long-last fulfill my promise to review this book, which recently won the 2013 Sami Rohr Choice Award for Jewish Literature

I first became acquainted with the work of Sarah Bunin Benor when she looked for volunteers to complete an online survey of language use among Jewish Americans several years back. When Becoming Frum came out a year ago, I was even more interested, partly because of my sociolinguistics coursework as part of my graduate-level anthropology program, partly because of my own status as a “BT” (someone who “returned” to Orthodox Jewish observance as an adult).

Becoming Frum draws on Benor’s extensive research among both “black hat” and “modern” Orthodox communities. Continue reading