Cite: Hakak, Preventing Defection in the Haredi Community

Hakak, Yohai. “Egalitarian Fundamentalism: Preventing Defection in the Israeli Haredi Community.” Journal of Contemporary Religion 26.2 (2011): 291–310.



Fundamentalist religious communities are usually portrayed as patriarchal in relation to women and authoritative towards children and young people. This article explores three cases in which a fundamentalist group, the Jewish Israeli Haredi (Ultra Orthodox) community uses egalitarian discourses and practices. My claim is that egalitarianism is a tool which the community uses to prevent members from defecting or to bring back members who have defected. Egalitarianism or equality between members can be increased or reduced, according to changing needs. While egalitarianism is emphasised among members, condescension is emphasised in relation to the ‘outside’, often portrayed as unequal and abusive. As part of these attempts, Western psychological, feminist, and democratic discourses, usually considered to be alien to the community, are incorporated.

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