Most Americans in the 1960s considered the Jewish Hasidic tradition and the hippie culture to be totally incompatible. They were therefore taken by surprise when, in the late 1960s and the early 1970s, they encountered hippie Hasids——members of the counterculture who decided to embrace the Jewish Hasidic tradition yet retain hippie tastes and manners as well. A hippie Hasidic center, the House of Love and Prayer, opened in San Francisco in 1968, aiming to amalgamate the Jewish Hasidic traditions with the counterculture. The hippie Hasids adopted the suspicious attitude that both the Hasidic and hippie communities had held toward the basic premises of the Enlightenment. The hippie Hasids saw both the Holocaust and the Vietnam War as proof that governments should not be trusted, as they did not necessarily work for the benefit of humanity. The hippies shared another common feature with the Hasids: faith in the supernatural, which in the neo-Hasidic movement demonstrated itself in embracing Jewish and, at times, non-Jewish mystical elements. The group upheld a messianic hope for a new world order of peace and brotherly love that both the Hasidic community and the hippie culture promoted. The new movement tried to establish a middle ground between the demands of the Jewish tradition and the more egalitarian and freespirited inclinations of women and men of the hippie generation. In their garments, hairstyles, cuisine, and music, the neo-Hasids created a unique subculture that blended the two different traditions. With the decline of the hippie culture in the late 1970s, the new-Hasidic center closed its doors. Its unique culture had, however, a great influence on the development of Judaism, inspiring both a large movement of return to tradition and a renewal movement that, among other things, enhanced the spiritual elements in Judaism and added color and enthusiasm to both liberal and traditional Jewish religious life.
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