Walfish, Ruth A., and David L. Brody. “‘Students get bogged down’: How Religious Israeli Elementary Teachers View Problems and Solutions in Bible Teaching.” British Journal of Religious Education (early view; online first).
Bible teachers in contemporary society confront serious problems related to the nature of the biblical text and the socio-cultural context of their teaching. This study, based on semi-structured interviews, examines the problems that five expert religious Israeli elementary school teachers encounter in their teaching and the solutions they employ. Our findings show two major domains of pedagogic issues: unfamiliar biblical linguistics and problematic content. Teachers reported student difficulties in understanding biblical Hebrew. Problematic content includes irrelevant topics, emotionally laden material, and age inappropriate issues. Linguistic solutions relied on reading comprehension techniques and use of features specific to Bible reading such as diacritical marks. Regarding content issues, teachers were motivated by faith in the sanctity of the text to find effective solutions. These include selectivity, reinterpretation using homiletic tools, a holistic understanding and contextualising the narrative. Though teachers felt ill-prepared by their pre-service training in dealing with these challenges, they demonstrated resilience in their solution-oriented pedagogy. These findings suggest attention to mentoring and professional development, and to the creation of a community of practice to support teachers’ dealing with the ongoing challenges in their teaching.
Beginning in 1997, the Har Hamor Yeshiva, a leading Jerusalem-based institute for Torah learning, has become the center of a unique stream of thought in religious Zionist philosophy. This article examines how religious Zionist yeshivas have developed an educational curriculum that translates theological beliefs and values into political action. The article seeks to evaluate to what extent this ideology and curriculum will be able to survive in a political reality in which the rift between religious and secular Zionism is constantly increasing.
Shalev, Ofra, Nehami Baum, and Haya Itzhaky. “Religious Identity in Transition. Processes of Change in the Religious Identity of Young Religious Jewish Newlyweds in Israel.” The Family Journal 24.2 (2015): 132-9.
When researchers started to explore the cultural context of marriage, studies about how religious beliefs act within the marriage context have emerged. Most studies focused on Christian population, exploring how religiosity shape the nature of the marital relationship. The present study, however, examined the religious dynamics in one’s religious identity as a result of the transition to matrimony. Using qualitative tools, we interviewed 18 young Israeli Jewish Orthodox couples during their first year of marriage. The study exposes that although both partners come from the same religious group, the transition to marriage creates significant changes in their self-religious identity.
Religious communities have ongoing concerns about Internet use, as it intensifies the clash between tradition and modernity, a clash often found in traditionally inclined societies. Nevertheless, as websites become more useful and widely accessible, religious and communal stakeholders have continuously worked at building and promoting them. This study focuses on Chabad, a Jewish ultra-Orthodox movement, and follows webmasters of three key websites to uncover how they distribute religious knowledge over the Internet. Through an ethnographic approach that included interviews with over 30 webmasters, discussions with key informants, and observations of the websites themselves, the study uncovered webmaster’s strategies to foster solidarity within their community, on one hand, while also proselytizing their outlook on Judaism, on the other. Hence, the study sheds light on how a fundamentalist society has strengthened its association with new media, thus facilitating negotiation between modernity and religious piety.
Secular-believers, who constitute about 25% of Israeli Jews, are self-identified secular people who believe in some kind of divinity. Based on in-depth interviews with secular-believer women, this study aims to reveal their theological assumptions and claims. It examines metaphors and images participants used to relate to the divine as well as the theological categories they emphasized. The study uncovers the pluralistic nature of secular-believers’ beliefs and the common tendency to address faith-related content in a positive light.
About 25% of the Jewish population in Israel consists of “secular believers.” They self-identify as secular but also believe in God or some kind of higher/deeper power(s). Their identity conflicts with the conventional identification of secularism with atheism, as do post-secular theologies, whose theological ideas reject traditional religion while adopting concepts of faith. Western feminism proved especially conducive to the development of post-secular theology. This study addresses both Israeli Judaism and feminist theology from a post-secular perspective. It analyses two academic fields of discourse—feminist Jewish theology and feminism in Israel—to determine whether, how and why they are developing a Jewish post-secular feminist theology. The study reveals that such theologies are rare and suggests that discursive field structure limits their development.