Reviews: Spiegel, Embodying Hebrew Culture

Spiegel, Nina S. Embodying Hebrew Culture. Aesthetics, Athletics, and Dance in the Jewish Community of Mandate Palestine. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2013.





  • Heidecker, Liora Bing. “Review.” Nashim 26 (2014): 163-165.
  • Elron, Sari. “Review.” Middle East Journal 68.1 (2014): 165-166.
  • Zer-Zion, Shelly. “Review.” Journal of Israeli History 33.2 (2014): 241-244.
  • Manor, Dalia. “Review.” Journal of Modern Jewish Studies 15.1 (2016): 159-61.

New Article: Lidovsky Cohen, Poetics and Politics in Alona Kimhi’s Lily La Tigresse

Lidovsky Cohen, Zafrira. “The Non-Chosen Body: Poetics and Politics in Alona Kimhi’s Lily La Tigresse.” Hebrew Studies 55 (2014): 355-77.





Beginning with the female grotesque body in its midst, this study examines the bodies of key fictional characters from the center and margins of contemporary Israeli society that Alona Kimhi constructs in her novel Lily La Tigresse and considers their political implications. It asserts that the image of a well-built and almighty Jewish male body that the Zionist revolutionaries of the early twentieth century dreamt of remains, in Kimhi’s view, a beau ideal in present-day Israel. However, the idealization of a healthy Jewish male body has given rise not to a healthy Jewish nation that the Zionist forefathers desired, but to a self-appointed sociocultural elite that seeks to sustain its position on the top by violently excluding all others who are pushed to the margins and left to invent their own identities.




New Book: Morag, Waltzing with Bashir: Perpetrator Trauma and Cinema

Morag, Raya. Waltzing with Bashir: Perpetrator Trauma and Cinema. London: Tauris, 2013.



Waltzing with Bashir proposes a new paradigm for cinema trauma studies – the trauma of the perpetrator. Recognizing a current shift in interest from the trauma suffered by victims to that suffered by perpetrators, the book seeks to theorize this still under-studied field thus breaking the repression of this concept and phenomenon in psychoanalysis and in cinema literature. Taking as a point of departure the distinction between testimony given by the victim and confession made by the perpetrator, this pioneering work ventures to define and analyze perpetrator trauma in scholarly, representational, literary, and societal contexts. In contrast to the twentieth-century definition of the perpetrator based on modern wars and totalitarian regimes,Morag defines the perpetrator in the context of the twenty-first century’s new wars and democratic regimes. The direct result of a drastic transformation in the very nature of war, made manifest by the lethal clash between soldier and civilian in a battlefield newly defined in bodily terms, the new trauma paradigm stages the trauma of the soldier turned perpetrator, thus offering a novel perspective on issues of responsibility and guilt.

Such theoretical insights demonstrate that the epistemology of the post-witness era requires breaking deep-seated psychological and psychiatric, as well as cultural and political, repression. Driven by the emergence of a new wave of Israeli documentary cinema, Waltzing with Bashir analyzes the Israeli film and literature produced in the aftermath of the second Intifada. As Ari Folman’s Waltz with Bashir and other new wave films demonstrate, Israeli cinema, attached on one side to the legacy of the Holocaust and on the other to the Israeli Occupation, is a highly relevant case for probing the limits of both victim and perpetrator traumas, and for revisiting and recontextualizing the crucial moment in which the victim/perpetrator cultural symbiosis is dismantled.

Raya Morag is an Associate Professor of Cinema Studies at the Department of Communication and Journalism, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel.

Table of Contents

From Victim to Perpetrator Trauma

Part I: Victim Trauma
1. The Body as the Battlefield
2. Chronic Victim Trauma and Terror
3. Queerness, Ethnicity, and Terror

Part II: Perpetrator Trauma
4. The New Wave of Documentary Cinema: The Male Perpetrator
5. The New Wave of Documentary Cinema: The Female Perpetrator
6. The New Wave of Documentary Literature

The Perpetrator Complex

New Book: Fuchs, Israeli Feminist Scholarship

Fuchs, Esther, ed. Israeli Feminist Scholarship. Gender, Zionism, and Difference. Austin, TX : University of Texas Press, 2014.

Israeli Feminist Scholarship-cover

More than a dozen scholars give voice to cutting-edge postcolonial trends (from ecofeminism to gender identity in family life) that question traditional approaches to Zionism while highlighting nationalism as the core issue of Israeli feminist scholarship today.

Table of Contents


Introduction. Israeli Feminist Scholarship: Gender, Zionism, and Difference

Esther Fuchs

Chapter One. The Evolution of Critical Paradigms in Israeli Feminist Scholarship: A Theoretical Model

Esther Fuchs

Chapter Two. Politicizing Masculinities: Shahada and Haganah

Sheila H. Katz

Chapter Three. The Double or Multiple Image of the New Hebrew Woman

Margalit Shilo

Chapter Four. The Heroism of Hannah Senesz: An Exercise in Creating Collective National Memory in the State of Israel

Judith T. Baumel

Chapter Five. The Feminisation of Stigma in the Relationship Between Israelis and Shoah Survivors

Ronit Lentin

Chapter Six. Gendering Military Service in the Israel Defense Forces

Dafna N. Izraeli

Chapter Seven. The Halachic Trap: Marriage and Family Life

Ruth Halperin-Kaddari

Chapter Eight. Motherhood as a National Mission: The Construction of Womanhood in the Legal Discourse in Israel

Nitza Berkovitch

Chapter Nine. No Home at Home: Women’s Fiction vs. Zionist Practice

Yaffah Berlovitz

Chapter Ten. Wasteland Revisited: An Ecofeminist Strategy

Hannah Naveh

Chapter Eleven. Tensions in Israeli Feminism: The Mizrahi-Ashkenazi Rift

Henriette Dahan-Kalev

Chapter Twelve. Scholarship, Identity, and Power: Mizrahi Women in Israel

Pnina Motzafi-Haller

Chapter Thirteen. Reexamining Femicide: Breaking the Silence and Crossing “Scientific” Borders

Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian

Chapter Fourteen. The Construction of Lesbianism as Nonissue in Israel

Erella Shadmi

Chapter Fifteen. From Gender to Genders: Feminists Read Women’s Locations in Israeli Society

Hanna Herzog





Purchase from publisher:

New Article: Taragin-Zeller, Modesty among Female Ultra-Orthodox Teenagers in Israel

Taragin-Zeller, Lea. “Modesty for Heaven’s Sake: Authority and Creativity among Female Ultra-Orthodox Teenagers in Israel.” Nashim 26 (2014): 75-96.





The ethnographic research that I conducted at a Bais Yaakov seminary in Jerusalem demonstrates how ultra-Orthodox female teachers and their teenage pupils structure an ideology of modesty through the reinterpretation of canonical texts on modesty. In this study, I show that modesty is a creative sphere informed by two trends: the adoption of modern patterns of behavior, and religious innovation. The exegesis these women give to the texts upon which they base their practice redefines the field of modesty in two primary ways: (1) It transforms modesty from a rigid halachic dictate into a dynamic feminine “mission” that is connected to the sphere of virtues; and (2) it replaces the socio-masculine discourse upon which this observance is based with a divine imperative. This phenomenon bears witness to a shift in the types of authority that these ultra-Orthodox teenage girls are willing to accept, since the only justification they accept for their modesty practices is that of personal devotion to God.

New Article: Ribke, Female Fashion Models’ Transition into Israeli Politics

Ribke, Nahuel. “Modeling Politics? Female Fashion Models’ Transition into Israeli Politics.” European Journal of Culturla Studies 17.2 (2014): 170-186.





This article analyses the recent phenomenon of the passage of former models/television hosts into Israeli politics. The transition of these former models into politics can be seen as part of a wider phenomenon of Israeli media celebrities’ transition to professional politics. Despite the wide media coverage and the heated public debates around the fashion models’ candidacy, until now there has been no serious analysis of this phenomenon. Distancing itself from the popular derogatory approaches toward the participation of celebrities in politics, this study proposes to examine their entry into the political sphere seriously, incorporating a cultural and historical perspective along with an analysis of the dynamics of ethnic and gender relations in Israeli politics.

ToC: Israel Studies Review 28,2 (2013)

Guest Editors’ Introduction: Rethinking the Family in Israel

pp. vii-xii(6)
Authors: Fogiel-Bijaoui, Sylvie; Rutlinger-Reiner, Reina

Articles: The Transformation of Intimacies

pp. 1-17(17)
Author: Engelberg, Ari

Articles: Families in Transition

pp. 83-101(19)
Author: Rutlinger-Reiner, Reina

Articles: The Boundaries of Family Life

pp. 140-156(17)
Author: Lustenberger, Sibylle

Articles: Legal Discourse, Private Life

pp. 210-227(18)
Author: Fogiel-Bijaoui, Sylvie

Articles: Articles: Legal Discourse, Private Life

pp. 247-263(17)
Author: Mazeh, Yoav

pp. 300-313(14)
Author: Kreiczer-Levy, Shelly

Book Reviews

pp. 314-324(11)

Cite: Brandes and Levin, Israeli Teenage Girls Constructing Their Social Connections on Facebook

Brandes, Sigal Barak and David Levin. “‘Like My Status’: Israeli Teenage Girls Constructing Their Social Connections on the Facebook Social Network.” Feminist Media Studies (online preview)



This paper engages with the relatively new area of research into teenage girls and online social networks, focusing on the experiences and views of Israelis. In particular, we examine how Israeli girls construct social relationships on Facebook. Adopting a feminist interpretive approach, this qualitative study is based on focus group interviews with Israeli girls aged between twelve and eighteen from diverse cultural, economic, and social backgrounds. The girls clearly distinguish between different circles of social closeness on Facebook, with each circle marked by different relationships, dynamics, and expectations. The study’s findings beg the question of whether social networks allow Israeli girls to exercise control, power, choice, and agency in their social world, or whether they remain informed by existing social structures that shape and restrict their choices and actions. The significance of these findings is discussed in the contexts of feminism, girl power, and Neoliberal discourse.

Cite: Ryan, Security, Subjectification and Resistance in the Occupied Palestinian Territories

Ryan, Caitlin. “The Subjected Non-Subject: Security, Subjectification and Resistance in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.” Critical Studies on Security (ahead of print; published online August 25, 2013).





The aim of this article is to examine how Palestinian women living under
Israeli occupation experience and resist subjectification through
security practices. Such an examination is inspired by Foucault, who
claims that power functions upon corporeal bodies to create subjects.
Interesting to the case of Palestinian women in the Occupied Palestinian
Territories is the way in which they are de facto subjects in that
their bodies are subject to Israeli power, without being subjects of
Israel. This article is based on recent field research in the West Bank.
It thus relies upon narratives from individual Palestinian women of how
they experience being subject to Israeli power and how, in turn, they
enact resistance to that power.

Cite: Lachover and Bossin, , Femininity and Feminism in the Life of Hannah Semer

Lachover, Einat and Donna Bossin. “Professionalism, Femininity and Feminism in the Life of Hannah Semer (1924–2003), First Lady of Israeli Journalism.” Nashim 24 (2013): 120-38.





Hannah Semer broke through the glass ceiling and glass walls of her profession in a way no other Israeli female journalist had done before. This paper seeks to examine Semer’s dual identities as a woman and a journalist and to analyze the nature of these two identities as evidenced in her work, by considering the following questions: What obstacles did Semer face as a woman in her profession and, more specifically, in positions assumed to be within exclusively male domains? How did she cope with these obstacles? Did she experience significant tension between the cultural definitions of femininity and of professionalism? And if she did, how did this sense of discord find expression in her work, and how did she resolve the tension and disharmony inherent in being a woman journalist? These questions are relevant to the discussion of relations between women and journalism both in Israel and worldwide.

Cite: Lachover, Feminist Discourse in Women’s Business Magazines

Lachover, Einat. “Influential Women: Feminist Discourse in Women’s Business Magazines—The Case of Israel.” Communication, Culture & Critique 6.1 (2013): 121-41.





The study seeks to analyze how a major Israeli business magazine aimed at women—Lady Globes—defines a successful “career woman.” Characterizing this discourse enables us to identify the gendered and social ideology embedded in the magazine. The study concentrates on the magazine’s major projects, the choice of the “50 Most Influential Women” in Israel. The study indicates that the discourse in Lady Globes’s project is an expression of “career feminism.” The project seeks to empower the individual woman and it does not echo the call of liberal feminism for a collective fight for a change in social policy. The dominance of the business and financial sector reflects the magazine contribution to the discursive legitimation of neoliberalism.

Reviews: Feldhay Brenner, The Freedom to Write

Rachel Feldhay Brenner, The Freedom to Write: The Woman Artist and the World in Ruth Almog’s Fiction. Tel Aviv: HaKibbutz HaMeuchad, 2008 (in Hebrew).


Yael Dekel. “Review.” Nashim 23 (2012): 183-185.

Inbar Raveh. “Art as a Potential of Change.” Eretz Aheret, Sep 23, 2009 (in Hebrew).

Cite: Grumberg, Female Grotesque: Orly Castel-Bloom and the Israeli Woman’s Body

Grumberg, Karen. “Female Grotesque: Orly Castel-Bloom and the Israeli Woman’s Body.” Nashim 23 (2012): 145-168.





Despite the egalitarianism at the heart of its founding socialist ideals, Israel’s society has been shaped by a decidedly masculine discourse. Some women authors respond to this reality by trying to assert a place for women and their bodies through the representation of female characters who are strong and independent. Others, however, choose to disregard the contours of the discussion altogether, moving beyond them to create a radically new bodily discourse. This essay argues that Orly Castel-Bloom’s representation of women’s bodies, in light of the Bakhtinian conception of the grotesque, constitutes the creation of a new critical aesthetics of the body. The innovative corporeal idiom that emerges from Castel-Bloom’s oeuvre does not merely reject an existing ideal of the Jewish Israeli body but actually seems indifferent to it. Instead, it makes use of certain tropes that are relevant beyond the particular Israeli context to illuminate the encounter between the woman’s body and the world, among them abjection, excess, hunger and plasticity. The maternal also plays a role in the construction of this narrative of the body, not only by disrupting familiar Israeli father/son configurations, but also by illustrating the chilling consequences of the incompatibility of motherhood with the violent public realm. The aesthetics of the grotesque offers interpretive possibilities for acknowledging that the violence of contemporary society—in its demanding ideal of femininity, in its brutal interpersonal relations, and in its wars and other political traumas—is always written on the woman’s body.

Dissertation: Makov-Hasson, Narrating Gender and Nation in the Early Novels of Israeli Women

Makov-Hasson, Hadar. Oedipus’ Sister: Narrating Gender and Nation in the Early Novels of Israeli Women. New York: New York University, 2009.



This dissertation follows the emergence of the first novels to be written by women in Israel after 1948. Largely ignored until now, the corpus of the female interwar novelists [1948-1966] consists of more than twenty novels which offer a diverse and innovative engagement with questions of gender and nation. The dissertation presents a reading of six such novels, framed within a discussion of the writers’ choice of genre, a highly uncommon venue for women writers during that time.

The main argument of this dissertation is that women novelists of the suggested period proposed alternative interpretations to the prevailing Zionist meta-narrative which dominated Hebrew male-centered literature. By employing strategies of appropriation and subversion, these writers have managed to portray alternative protagonists with different trajectories.

The six novels analyzed in the dissertation are closely read through the lenses of various theories. First, theories of the novel are explored in an examination of the chosen genre and the unique possibilities of resistance it offers. Next, the novels are read in conjunction with feminist and postcolonial theories as a means to highlight their moments of interruption of the national narrative, and as a tool to recognize and explain strategies of resistance and defiance.

My reading reveals that while often adopting canonized poetics, the female interwar novelists use this form of appropriation as a cover up for their subversive content. Offering marginal protagonists, both women and men, they reread the national narrative by either foregrounding feminine and artistic coming-of-age stories that defy stereotypical gender roles, or by exposing the ruptures within the model of national manhood through the exploration of male protagonists and their nationalized masculinity.

This dissertation presents a two-fold contribution to the field of modern Hebrew literature. First, it adds a "missing link" to the story of women’s writing, exposing a continuity that contradicts previous depictions of this writing as sporadic and mostly marginal. Second, it rattles prevalent perceptions of the literary canon, revealing how its so-called margins managed to infiltrate and undermine the ruling literary norms of the time, while anticipating some of Israel’s most prominent literary works.

Cite: Hammer, Blind Women’s Appearance Management

Hammer, Gili. “Blind Women’s Appearance Management. Negotiating Normalcy between Discipline and Pleasure.” Gender & Society 26.3 (2012): 406-32.





This article examines the contradictions inherent in blind women’s appearance management. Based on an anthropological analysis of interviews with 40 blind women in Israel, the article argues that while serving as a valuable tool within stigma management, appearance management operates simultaneously as a site of rigorous discipline of the body in an effort to comply with feminine visual norms, and as a vehicle for the expression and reception of sensory pleasure. It argues for the significant role of blind women’s appearance in negotiating normalcy and rejecting the normative, stigmatizing script written for them as disabled-blind-women. By studying the role of appearance in the lives of women who do not rely on sight as a central mode of perception, the article addresses the complicated position of blind women in visual culture and challenges the traditional ocular focus of the study of feminine identity and gender performance.

Cite: Lahav, Women in the Israeli TV Coverage of the Second Lebanon War

Lahav, Hagar. "The Giver of Life and the Griever of Death: Women in the Israeli TV Coverage of the Second Lebanon War (2006)." Communication, Culture & Critique 3,2 (2010): 242-269.


This article discusses gender aspects of the journalistic coverage of the Second Lebanon War by Israeli TV. The findings reveal that, in the social reality presented in the TV news during the war, women were relegated to the periphery by a complex process of exclusionary representation. Three primary subprocesses produced this exclusionary representation of women: concealing, transparency, and constructing women’s presence and gendered images. This representation framed the war as "men’s business," and unjustly legitimizes as well as normalizes their marginal position in the context of the Israeli–Arab conflict. An analysis of the symbolic reality devised by the media exposes the gender and ethnic components of Israel’s inclusion (and exclusion) regime.




Keywords: 2006 War, Israel: Media, Israel: Culture, Gender, Femininity, Israeli-Arab Conflict, Israel: Society, Ethnic Divide, Television, הגר להב

New Publication: Teman, Birthing a Mother


Elly Teman. Birthing a Mother. The Surrogate Body and the Pregnant Self. Berkeley / Los Angeles / London: University of California Press, 2010.


Birthing a Mother is the first ethnography to probe the intimate experience of gestational surrogate motherhood. In this beautifully written and insightful book, Elly Teman shows how surrogates and intended mothers carefully negotiate their cooperative endeavor. Drawing on anthropological fieldwork among Jewish Israeli women, interspersed with cross-cultural perspectives of surrogacy in the global context, Teman traces the processes by which surrogates relinquish any maternal claim to the baby even as intended mothers accomplish a complicated transition to motherhood. Teman’s groundbreaking analysis reveals that as surrogates psychologically and emotionally disengage from the fetus they carry, they develop a profound and lasting bond with the intended mother.




Keywords: Israel: Society, Anthropology, Ethnography, Gender, Family Life and Culture, Femininity, Motherhood, Psychology, Israel: Demographics

Cite: Women in the Six Day War through the Eyes of the Media


Lachover, Einat. "Women in the Six Day War through the Eyes of the Media." Journal of Israeli History 28,2 (2009): 117-135.


On the basis of a content analysis of 168 news items dealing with women in the two largest-circulation newspapers in Israel, this article investigates whether there was any change in the news media’s representation of women during the Six Day War. The results indicate that while there was little change in women’s representation in quantitative terms, that is, their visibility remained low, there were differences in qualitative terms. Whereas women typically appear in the news as victims, this type of representation was rare in the Six Day War, when women were represented in the context of the collective rather than the private sphere. Thus, the image of the “egotistical woman” was replaced by that of the “woman volunteer,” while the wife/mother image appeared in the national context during the war. However, once the war was over, women returned to their private world, and the image of the woman soldier as a sexual object also reappeared. Rather than enabling women to redefine their relations with men, the nation and the state, the war underlined their traditional gender roles.


Keywords: Israeli women; news media; private/public sphere; patriarchal gender roles; Six Day War, עינת לחובר