Bulletin: Religion in Israel

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New Article: Gor Ziv, Teaching Jewish Holidays in Early Childhood Education in Israel

Gor Ziv, Haggith. “Teaching Jewish Holidays in Early Childhood Education in Israel: Critical Feminist Pedagogy Perspective.” Taboo 15.1 (2016): 119-34.

 

URL: http://search.proquest.com/openview/40522e5877f96e9463985043f68d6e85/1?pq-origsite=gscholar&cbl=28753

 

Abstract

Teaching Jewish holidays in secular kindergartens in Israel is a major part of the early childhood education curriculum and often revolves around myths of heroism. The telling of these stories frequently evokes strong nationalist feelings of identification with fighting as they describe survival wars and conflicts in which the heroes are mostly male fighters and Jewish victory over the enemy is celebrated. Thus the teaching of the holidays hidden agenda strengthens ceremonial, patriarchal and national ideas. This paper proposes a number of educational alternatives in accordance with critical feminist pedagogy and Jewish values of social justice. The article focuses on three major holidays: Hanukah, Purim and Passover. It shows in each one of them the conventional reading of the holiday which is the traditional way it is being taught in secular kindergartens, the holiday through a critical feminist pedagogy lens and application in early childhood classrooms.

 

 

 

New Article: Chyutin, Female Modesty in Judaic-Themed Israeli Cinema

Chyutin, Dan. “‘The King’s Daughter is All Glorious Within’: Female Modesty in Judaic-Themed Israeli Cinema.” Journal of Jewish Identities 9.1 (2016): 39-58.

 

URL: https://muse.jhu.edu/article/614551

 

Extract

In the latter months of 2011, the issue of female marginalization within Judaism became the focus of a heated debate in Israeli public discourse. During this period, the national press reported on a variety of incidents involving Judaic exclusionary practices: for example, male Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers purposely leaving an official ceremony because it involved a female singing performance; ultra-Orthodox men spitting on a thirteen-year-old girl who was dressed ‘indecently’; and women being harassed on buses for not observing gender separation by moving to the back. These and other similar occurrences were denounced by secular politicians and media, and even prominent figures within the observant community spoke against the spread of segregation. Concurrently, Israeli citizens took to the streets on more than one occasion in support of the victims of Judaic discrimination. The social uproar around these events signals a growing awareness within Israeli society of the patriarchal facets of Judaic practice and their control and oppression of women. This understanding recognizes that the Bible, as a text written by and for men, situates women as the quintessential Other, and thus acts as the condition for an institutional marginalization of womanhood that covers all spheres of Jewish religious life. With reference to this state of affairs, the Judaic demand for sexually-based tzniut (modesty), visible in the aforementioned incidents, has become particularly important for Israeli feminist critique. As Shira Wolosky explains, Judaism’s modesty discourse has defined the danger of women as “that of ‘ervah, a nakedness that contains an erotic element and requires covering.” In protection of a supposed male vulnerability, the Judaic world sought to contain this danger by imposing detailed disciplines [on] women, regulating their seating in the synagogue, eating at feasts, and positioning in recreational and education settings, alongside myriad and multiplying regulations of dress, hair covering, greetings, deportment and, in the ultra-Orthodox world, also work spaces and public travel. These measures, which may be collected under the general heading of mechitzah (separation), engender Foucauldian ‘analytic spaces’ that ‘provide fixed positions’ and establish operational links as means of social regulation. As such, they become obvious targets for the feminist appreciation of female subjectivity under Judaism. Cognizant of the oppressive implications of the mechitzah, religious feminist discourse does not call for its abolishment but rather attempts to reinterpret it; for example, by looking at modesty-regulated spaces as offering opportunities for women to express and strengthen a self-conscious identity, or by expanding the purview of modesty to all members of the community so as to help them ‘view themselves [not] according to the images of each other that have been generated through generations of cagey anxiety and misguided notions, but in the far more forgiving gaze of the divine.’ In contrast, Israeli secular feminist discourse, as reflected through the 2011 public debate on female marginalization, has been largely uninterested in such reasoning. Instead, it has defined feminism and Judaism as fundamentally incompatible, and therefore offered the breaking of mechitzah as the only proper solution for the religious woman’s plight. This position did not emerge ex nihilo. Rather, we find it mirrored in the proliferation of contemporary Israeli films that aim, so it seems, to stage scenes where religious Jewish (or ‘Judaic’) women transgress modesty norms in sexual and romantic contexts. As a genre, these filmic texts imagine observant women to be not only the principal victims of Israeli-Judaic reality, but also its primary challengers. Their challenge is seen as originating from a desire for sexual exploration, a desire that is deemed natural and thus inherently in conflict with Judaism’s artificial laws of sexual management. Accordingly, these works place their characters on a collision course with Judaism’s power structures, a process that ultimately necessitates they abandon their religiosity or live in painful tension with it. The goal of the following pages is to evaluate this corpus of media texts as manifesting the current Israeli secular critique of Judaic androcentrism.

 

 

 

New Article: Gribetz, Judaism, Christianity, and the Palestine Liberation Organization’s Translation of Zionism

Gribetz, Jonathan Marc. “When The Zionist Idea Came to Beirut: Judaism, Christianity, and the Palestine Liberation Organization’s Translation of Zionism.” International Journal of Middle East Studies 48.2 (2016): 243-66.

 

URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0020743816000015

 

Abstract

In 1970, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Research Center in Beirut published an Arabic translation of The Zionist Idea, an anthology of classic Zionist texts compiled originally by Arthur Hertzberg in 1959. This article compares how the two versions present the biographies and motivations of key Zionist ideologues. It suggests that, in contrast to Hertzberg, the PLO researchers tended to present Zionism, especially at its roots, as a Jewish religious movement. Attempting to discern what might lie behind this conception of Zionism, the article considers the significance of the religious backgrounds of the leadership of the PLO Research Center and of those involved in the translation project. It argues that the researchers’ concern about the status of Christians as a religious minority among Palestinians and other Arabs and certain deeply rooted Christian ideas about the nature of Judaism may help account for the particular view of Zionism that the Research Center developed in its—and in the PLO’s—foundational years.

 

 

 

New Article: Wagner, Nietzsche’s Visions and Buber’s Israel

Wagner, Karin. “Hugo Kauder’s Unexpressed Philosophical Concept: Schelling’s Transcendence, Nietzsche’s Visions and Buber’s Israel.” Journal of Modern Jewish Studies (early view; online first).
 
URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14725886.2016.1144283
 
Abstract

Hugo Kauder, born in 1888 near Prague, composer, instrumentalist, theoretician and music-philosopher, came to Vienna in 1905, left Austria after the Novemberpogrom 1938 and reached New York via the Netherlands and England in 1940. In 1938 Tel Aviv was also one of his intended havens (parts of Kauder’s estate are kept at the National Library of Israel, Jerusalem). Engaged in the crisis discourse in Vienna’s postwar period of the early 1920s, Kauder drafted his philosophical ideas under the influence of Friedrich Schelling and Friedrich Nietzsche, also speculating on music-teleology, mysticism and cosmology. Corresponding with the German philosopher Rudolf Pannwitz, with the authors Karl Wolfskehl and Erich von Kahler, Kauder expressed his Jewishness – much more as a mindset than an active Jewish identity. Coming from a system of transcendental and natural philosophy combined with Christian ideas, Kauder moved to a more complex syncretism also reflecting on Jewish topics. Kauder did not organize his ideas into a concept, they are, rather, the theoretical framework of his educational books and are widespread in his essays and letters.

 

 

 

New Article: Fuchs, The Study of Emunah in the Har Hamor Yeshiva

Fuchs, Ilan.”The Construction of an Ideological Curriculum: The Study of Emunah in the Har Hamor Yeshiva.” Journal of Israeli History (early view; online first).
 
URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13531042.2016.1140925
 
Abstract

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.

 

 

 

Thesis: Chyutin, Judaism, Contemporary Israeli Film, and the Cinematic Experience

Chyutin, Dan. A Hidden Light: Judaism, Contemporary Israeli Film, and the Cinematic Experience, PhD dissertation. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh, 2015.
 
URL: http://d-scholarship.pitt.edu/26366/
 
Abstract

Throughout its brief history, Israeli cinema largely ignored Jewish religious identity, aligning itself with Zionism’s rejection of Judaism as a marker of diasporic existence. Yet over the past two decades, as traditional Zionism slowly declined, and religion’s presence became more pronounced in the public sphere, Israeli filmmakers began to treat Judaism as a legitimate cinematic concern. The result has been a growth in the number of Israeli films dealing with the realities of devoutly religious Jews, amounting to a veritable “Judaic turn” in Israel’s cinematic landscape. As of now, this “turn” has received meager attention within Israeli film scholarship. The following, then, addresses this scholarly lack by offering an extensive investigation of contemporary Judaic-themed Israeli cinema.

This intervention pursues two interconnected lines of inquiry. The first seeks to analyze the corpus in question for what it says on the Judaic dimension of present-day Israeli society. In this context, this study argues that while a dialectic of secular vs. religious serves as the overall framework in which these films operate, it is habitually countermanded by gestures that bring these binary categories together into mutual recognition. Accordingly, what one finds in such filmic representations is a profound sense of ambivalence, which is indicative of a general equivocation within Israeli public discourse surrounding the rise in Israeli Judaism’s stature and its effects on a national ethos once so committed to secularism.

The second inquiry follows the lead of Judaic-themed Israeli cinema’s interest in Jewish mysticism, and extends it to a film-theoretical consideration of how Jewish mystical thought may help illuminate particular constituents of the cinematic experience. Here emphasis is placed on two related mystical elements to which certain Israeli films appeal—an enlightened vision that unravels form and a state of unity that ensues. The dissertation argues that these elements not only appear in the Israeli filmic context, but are also present in broader cinematic engagements, even when those are not necessarily organized through the theosophic coordinates of mysticism. Furthermore, it suggests that this cycle’s evocation of such elements is aimed to help its national audience transcend the ambivalences of Israel’s “Judaic imagination.”

 

 

 

New Article: Golan & Stadler, The Dual Use of the Internet by Chabad

Golan, Oren, and Nurit Stadler. “Building the Sacred Community Online: The Dual Use of the Internet by Chabad.” Media, Culture & Society (early view; online first).

 
URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0163443715615415
 
Abstract

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.

 

 

 

New Book: Levy, Israeli Theatre (in Hebrew)

Levy, Shimon. Israeli Theatre. Time, Space, Plot. Tel Aviv: Resling, 2016 (in Hebrew).

 
Israeli Theatre
 

In the absence of a well-established tradition of drama, the new Hebrew theatre in Palestine at the beginning of the 20th century, is caught in a fruitful and fascinating bind. Processes of secularization and liberalization among world Jewry and pre-State Israel fostered openness towards the theatre. This relatively new art in Jewish tradition was also seen as entertainment, but in its early years it was primarily employed as an educational and ideological tool in the service of Zionist national needs in the struggle for the creation of a Hebrew culture. The dramatic nature of this change in the status of Jews and Israel not only summoned a revived reading of Jewish history, but also its staging, pun intended, on the Hebrew stage, in the Land of Israel, and of course – the Hebrew language.

This book addresses issues and topics of Israeli drama and theatre from a social-artistic perspective. The prologue treats the development of a Jewish-Hebrew-Israeli theatre against the backdrop of secularization of the Jewish community from the early 19th century to its flourish in contemporary Israel. The basic conditions for theatre in general and Israeli theatre in particular are discussed in a chapter on space in Israeli drama. Theatrical props are discussed in a chapter which examines the idiosyncrasy of local drama through one of the elements of its space design. The Hebrew Bible and Judaism are addressed in a chapter on secular sanctity, characteristic to our stage. Another component of Israeli identity, its attitude toward Arabs, wars and the protracted conflict, is discussed in a chapter entitled “captive in fiction.” A discussion of three giants in Israeli drama – Nissim Aloni, Joshua Sobol and Hanoch Levin – is structured by the meta-theatrical intentionalism of each of them. the Acco Festival, an annual event since 1980, is discussed as a key component in the Israeli theatrical scene. The book concludes with a eulogy for the Hebrew radio drama, a celebrated genre in its heyday until it was marginalized by television, but its significant contribution to Israeli drama nevertheless remains.

 

SHIMON LEVY is a Professor Emeritus of Theatre at Tel Aviv University, where he taught for many years, and was chair of the Department of Theatre Arts. His main areas of research are Hebrew-Israeli theatre and drama, the works of Samuel Beckett, and theories of chaos in relation to theatre. He has published dozens of articles, and hundreds of essays on theatre in Hebrew, English, and German, as well as about ten books. He has translated over 100 plays for the stage, and continues to be active as a director in Israel and abroad.

 

 

 

New Article: Amishai-Maisels, Ayana Friedman. Layers of Feminist Struggle

Amishai-Maisels, Ziva. “Ayana Friedman. Layers of Feminist Struggle.” Journal of Modern Jewish Studies 15.1 (2016): 131-57.

 

URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14725886.2015.1114822

 

Abstract

Ayana Friedman is an Israeli multi-media artist who deals with politics, the Holocaust and society’s treatment of the Other. This article concentrates on her feminist works and how Judaism and being the child of a Holocaust survivor affected her approach to this subject. Three main feminist interests are highlighted. First, the turn to “feminine” materials. Second, the struggle against the restrictions and abuse imposed on women and their specific Jewish examples. Friedman demands equality for women in Judaism, opposing customs that demean them and creating new ritual objects for them. Third, the conflicts women have between a career and motherhood, and the inter-generational problems they involve.

 

 

 

ToC: Contemporary Jewry 35.3 (2015)

Contemporary Jewry

Volume 35, Issue 3, October 2015

ISSN: 0147-1694 (Print) 1876-5165 (Online)

New Article: Lahav, What Do Secular-Believer Women in Israel Believe in?

Lahav, Hagar. “What Do Secular-Believer Women in Israel Believe in?” Journal of Contemporary Religion 31.1 (2016): 17-34.

 

URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13537903.2016.1109866

 

Extract

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.

 

 

 

ToC: Israel Studies Review 30.2 (2015)

Israel Studies Review 30.2 (2015)

Editors’ Note

Editors’ Note
pp. v-vi(2)

 

Articles

Does Israel Have a Navel? Anthony Smith and Zionism
pp. 28-49(22)
Author: Berent, Moshe

 

Book Reviews

Book Reviews
pp. 130-155(26)

ToC: Jewish Social Studies 21,1 (2015)

Jewish Social Studies 21.1 (2015)

Table of Contents

 Front Matter

JSS-Front

New Article: Ehrlich, Israel’s Hegemonic Right

Ehrlich, Avishai. “Israel’s Hegemonic Right.” Socialist Register 52 (2016).

 

URL: http://socialistregister.com/index.php/srv/article/view/25600

 

Abstract

All the political parties in Israel, apart from Arab and ultra-Orthodox, define themselves as Zionist. The right in Israel identifies itself strongly as Jewish either in a religious or ethno-nationalistic sense or, more amorphously, in terms of the ‘politics of belonging’. In today’s political parlance in Israel, ‘Judaism’ is not a religion but a political ideology, best termed ‘political Judaism’, which claims the powers of religion: veracity, certitude, absoluteness and the polarity of good versus evil. To be a Jew according to the right means firstly not to be an Arab. To be on the left is tantamount to being an Arab because people on the left support Arabs. The right aspires to Jewish supremacy in Israel and says so explicitly. To be a Jew is not only to fulfill the religious qualification of being born to a Jewish mother; Jewish belonging is now expressed in primordial, essentialist, mystical terms. The politics of identity, of political Judaism, adds a McCarthyist rancour and an exclusionary dimension of banishment from the community to political divisions. To belong now requires unqualified loyalty.

 

 

ToC: Jewish Film & Media 3.1 (2015); special issue: Israeli film & television

Jewish Film & Media, 3.1, Spring 2015

 

Israeli Film and Television
pp. 1-2
Yaron Peleg

Articles

Secularity and Its Discontents: Religiosity in Contemporary Israeli Culture
pp. 3-24
Yaron Peleg

“Lifting the Veil”: Judaic-Themed Israeli Cinema and Spiritual Aesthetics
pp. 25-47
Dan Chyutin

Jewish Revenge: Haredi Action in the Zionist Sphere
pp. 48-76
Yael Friedman, Yohai Hakak

Televised Agendas: How Global Funders Make Israeli TV More “Jewish”
pp. 77-103
Galeet Dardashti

POPU

Reviews

On Hasamba 3G: Newer Kinds of Jews
pp. 104-112
Tali Artman Partock

On Shtisel (or the Haredi as Bourgeois)
pp. 113-117
Yaron Peleg

 

Lecture: Hilton, Patterns of Bar and Bat Mitzvah in Israel (Manchester, March 5, 2015)

The Zigzag Kid: Patterns of Bar and Bat Mitzvah in Israel

Rabbi Michael Hilton (Leo Baeck College, London)

4pm on Thu 5 March in A113, Samuel Alexander Building (Building 67 on the campus map, see directions).
ABSTRACT: Bat Mitzvah in Israel has been in the news with the first public ceremony for a girl with a Torah at the Kotel (the Western Wall). This talk will concentrate on trends in bar/bat mitzvah throughout Israel’s history, including ceremonies for visitors to Israel, and will link these with the history of the whole ceremony.SPEAKER: Michael Hilton has been Rabbi of Kol Chai Hatch End Reform Jewish Community since 2001 and has recently brought out Bar Mitzvah: A History, the first full study in English on the origin and development of both the bar and bat mitzvah ceremonies. Michael is an Honorary Research Fellow of CJS and a Lecturer and Governor, Leo Baeck College, London

Further information about the Israel Studies research seminar programme and other Jewish Studies events at the University.

New Article: Biale, Gershom Scholem on Nihilism and Anarchism

Biale, David. “Gershom Scholem on Nihilism and Anarchism.” Rethinking History 19.1 (2015): 61-71.

 

URL: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/13642529.2014.913937

 

Abstract

Gershom Scholem, the pioneering historian of Jewish mysticism, was fascinated throughout his career by the mystical sources of nihilism in the Jewish tradition, sources which ultimately produced the antinomian Sabbatian movement of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. But in his own political philosophy, he eschewed nihilism for a more moderate religious anarchism, identifying the right-wing Revisionists with the Sabbatians. The relationship between Scholem’s history of the Kabbalah, his anarchistic religious philosophy and his political activism can be traced in his published writings as well as his letters and other private writings.

New Article: Shoham, Celebrating Israeli Familism around the Seder Table

Shoham, Hizky. “You Can’t Pick Your Family. Celebrating Israeli Familism around the Seder Table.” Journal of Family History 39.3 (2014): 239-60.

 

URL: http://jfh.sagepub.com/content/39/3/239

 

Abstract

Familism is a model of a social organization that assigns the family an important role in individual and collective identity. This article proposes a historical analysis and interpretation of the Seder celebrations of Jewish Israelis, in order to explore what is unique about Israeli familism—that it imagines the entire nation as an extended family. This ritual continues to be widely practiced today by Jews of every sector—secular, traditional, and religious. As a result, it has a significant presence in Israeli popular culture. The focus is on two questions: (1) who celebrates? That is, what forum convenes around the table? (2) How is it celebrated? That is, what ritual is conducted during the festive gathering? The historical and ethnographic analysis shows that over the course of the twentieth century, the extended family became the preferred forum for celebration, and that the conformist reading of the Haggadah and the other parts of the ceremony continue on the whole to follow the Orthodox rules, even in secular families. This mode of celebration is analyzed here as an expression of the political image of the entire Jewish people as one large extended family and as a demonstration of the extensive use of Jewish familism in the construction of Jewish identity in Israel today

New Article: Barouch, Gershom Scholem’s Early Critique of Zionism and Its Language

Barouch, Lina. “The Erasure and Endurance of Lament: Gershom Scholem’s Early Critique of Zionism and Its Language.” Jewish Studies Quarterly 21.1 (2014): 13-26.

 

URL: http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/mohr/jsq/2014/00000021/00000001/art00003

Excerpt

Gershom Scholem’s 1917 essay “On Lament and Lamentation” portrays the Hebrew lament as the “language of the border,” which suffers an infinite cycle of exile and return. Scholem employs a paradoxical discourse in order to develop these cyclical borderline dynamics on the discursive and performative levels of the text. The idea of lament recurs in Scholems polemic writings between 1917 and 1931, a period marked by his emigration from Berlin to Jerusalem in 1923 and by his constant struggling with questions of Jewish exile and Zionist return. In other words, Scholem transfers his theoretical ideas on lament to the empirical realm of German-Jewish and Zionist history. More specifically, he deems the absence of lament in the language of his contemporaries as symptomatic of a Jewish generation whose wish to “enter history” has dangerously superseded the question of its metaphysical standing. Couched in a combination of modernist Krausian and Jewish apocalyptic vocabulary, Scholems writings caution of a “Wailing Wall of the new Zion” in the form of journalistic prattle and of the revengeful return of sacred Hebrew.

See Table of Contents for further discussion of Scholem’s “On Lament and Lamentation,” including full text.