Cite: Yadgar, Religious Practice and Jewish Identity among Israeli Traditionists

Yadgar, Yaacov. "Maintaining Ambivalence: Religious Practice and Jewish Identity among Israeli Traditionists—A Post-Secular Perspective." Journal of Modern Jewish Studies 9.3 (2010): 397-419.





Based on personal interviews with 102 Israeli Jews who identify themselves as “traditionists” (I shall argue below on the merits of this neologism as the proper translation of the Hebrew noun masorti), the paper studies the meanings traditionists associate with their Jewish practice, and endeavours to decipher and reconstruct the unwritten (and often unformulated) code guiding traditionist practice. This code, the paper argues, revolves around the preservation of a valid, “thick” sense of modern, ethnonational Jewish identity. The first part of the paper examines the tendency to present traditionism as lacking a consistent guiding logic, and addresses the question of whether it should be dismissed as the simple preference of “comfortableness” and easiness over the demanding observance of strict Orthodoxy. The second part enquires into the issue of the guilt arising from the supposed inconsistency between traditionists’ ideas of the role of religious practice and their “selective” attitude towards it. The paper thus argues against the (mis-) understanding of traditionism as deficient religiosity. Arguing that such dismissal is nurtured on the dichotomous world view propagated by the secularization thesis, the paper suggests that a post-secular epistemology is better suited for the interpretive understanding of this phenomenon.

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