Cite: Talmon, Negotiating Israeli Jewish Identity on Television

Talmon, Miri. “A Touch Away from Cultural Others: Negotiating Israeli Jewish Identity on Television.” Shofar 31.2 (2013): 55-72.

URL: http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/shofar/v031/31.2.talmon.html

Abstract

The Israeli television drama series, A Touch Away, Jerusalem Mix, and Srugim are symbolic sites for the negotiation of Jewish identity in Israel, a multicultural immigrant society. They open a window to the sociocultural religious communities within Israel, hence creating more visibility of these versions of Israeliness on the small screen, and deconstructing stereotypes thereof, allowing for more complex images of "religious Israeli Jews." The dramatic elaboration of intercultural encounters and conflicts in these TV dramas are contextualized by the Tzav Piyus project of reconciliation, which was initiated as a consequence of Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination and the painful sociocultural fissures associated with it, as well as the larger enterprise of the AVI CHAI foundation—the promotion both in Israel and in North America of an awareness and discourse about Jewish identity as a complex and diversified experience. How do resources of the medium—serial drama and audiovisual expressions of television—serve to construct identity as an open-ended process yet a social product bound by communal constraints? This analysis seeks to illuminate how television dramas bring Israeli and American viewers alike to a touch away from marginalized cultural universes within Israel, as well as from the contradictions underlying the yearning to create a unified collective Israeli and Jewish identity in a democratic state.

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