This article explores the mythological, ritualistic, and symbolic aspects of the ways in which the festivals of Hanukkah and Passover were celebrated by the Jewish Communists in Mandate Palestine and the State of Israel. It illustrates how elements of Zionist-socialist culture were adopted by Jewish Communists and integrated in their cultural activities. In a gradual process starting in the1920s and culminating in the mid-1960s, the Jewish Communists created a combination of Marxist ideology and Zionist-socialist cultural practices. However, when a group of young Sabra activists reinforced the Zionist-socialist elements, the balance was undermined, contributing to the rift within Israeli communism.
The basic challenge of Israeli sociology always has been, and continues to be to present days, the designation of its object of study; i. e.’Israeli society’. The history of Israeli sociology and its conception of ‘Israeli society’ may be discerned into the five following modules: 1. Proto-sociology. In the pre-state era, sociological thought thrived within the context of the socialist Zionism. The two prominent’ proto-sociologists’ were Arthur Ruppin and Martin Buber, who professed German communal perspectives. 2. Modernization sociology. The formative phase of sociology as a discipline was from 1950 to 1977. It was led by Shmuel Noah Eisenstadt, who effected a transition from the German anti-modernist paradigm to an American modernization theory. 3. Critical sociology. The critical phase took place in the 1970s and 1980s. Critical sociology was manifested in elitism, pluralism, Marxism, feminism and colonization approaches. Simultaneously there emerged a robust branch of’ quantitative sociology’. 4. Post-modern sociology. The turn towards post-modernity started in the 1990s. The three noticeable post-modern perspectives are: post-structuralism, post-colonialism and post-Marxism. 5. Palestinian Arab sociology in Israel. Palestinian Arab sociology is emerging and coming to its own since the 1990s. It reflects integration as well as alienation.
This article examines the social experience of belonging to the British section of the international Socialist Zionist youth movement, Hashomer Hatzair. The study is based on interviews conducted with 10 former activists across four generations and focuses primarily on the movement in London. It will be argued that Hashomer Hatzair represented a unique alternative youth culture based on a model developed by the movement’s founders in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. This model synthesized Robert Baden-Powell’s Scouting, the Jugendkultur of the German youth movements, Socialist Zionism and Marxism. Imported to Britain by young German and Austrian refugees from Nazism, this youth culture was reproduced initially in the English countryside, and after the war plugged into the pre-existing politics of Jewish radicalism in London and the general Zionist fervour that anticipated the establishment of Israel. Hashomer Hatzair emphasized autonomy from adult society. By creating autonomous youth spaces, the movement opened a portal for young Jews to shape their own identities. Through a process of politicization and education, the movement’s adherents would identify life on Israeli kibbutzim as an ideal future in adulthood. In tandem with the projection of heroic Jewish role models, this process encouraged Hashomer Hatzair’s followers to define their Jewishness in secular and existential terms, in opposition both to contemporary consumerist and urbanized capitalism, and to the traditional communal associations of the past.