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Articles

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: 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: Shalev et al, Change in the Religious Identity of Young Religious Jewish Newlyweds in Israel

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.

 
URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1066480716628598
 
Abstract

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.

 

 

 

New Article: Shemesh, Planting Eucalyptus Trees in Palestine

Shemesh, Abraham O. “Planting Eucalyptus Trees in the New Settlements in Nineteenth- to Twentieth-Century Palestine as Reflected in Rabbinic Documents.” Modern Judaism 36.1 (2016): 83-99.

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URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/mj/kjv038

 

Extract

In the new Jewish moshavot in Palestine (nineteenth to twentieth centuries), eucalyptus trees were used for the wood industry, to drain swamps, to give shade and block the wind, and to delineate fields in order to prevent trespassing. Rabbis dealt with two issues concerning eucalyptus trees: (A) whether they could be planted during a shmita (sabbatical year when planting is forbidden) in order to drain swamps and eradicate malaria, or to delineate lands owned by Jewish pioneers and thus prevent trespassing by Arab neighbors; and (B) the consideration of ecological regulations aimed at preventing the damage caused by the large trees and their roots to the settlers’ homes and fields.

Eucalyptus trees were brought to Palestine beginning in the early 1860s. At that time attempts were made to grow eucalyptus trees from seeds sent from the botanical gardens in Victoria, Australia, to the British Consul in Jerusalem. The first seeds were probably of the Eucalyptus globulus, called “Blue Gum” in Australia. They were brought to Palestine under different circumstances than those commonly assumed. At first they were brought for forestation purposes and to serve as shade trees and wind breaks rather than to drain swamps. In fact, however, Eucalyptus globulus proved to be unsuitable given the climate of Palestine and many attempts to acclimate it failed.

 

 

 

ToC: Israel Affairs 22.1 (2016)

Israel Affairs, Volume 22, Issue 1, January 2016 is now available online on Taylor & Francis Online.

This new issue contains the following articles:

Articles Sixty-two years of national insurance in Israel
Abraham Doron
Pages: 1-19 | DOI: 10.1080/13537121.2015.1111632

Rethinking reverence for Stalinism in the kibbutz movement
Reuven Shapira
Pages: 20-44 | DOI: 10.1080/13537121.2015.1111640

Making war, thinking history: David Ben-Gurion, analogical reasoning and the Suez Crisis
Ilai Z. Saltzman
Pages: 45-68 | DOI: 10.1080/13537121.2015.1111638

 
Military power and foreign policy inaction: Israel, 1967‒1973
Moshe Gat
Pages: 69-95 | DOI: 10.1080/13537121.2015.1111636
Arab army vs. a Jewish kibbutz: the battle for Mishmar Ha’emek, April 1948
Amiram Ezov
Pages: 96-125 | DOI: 10.1080/13537121.2015.1111633
Lip-service to service: the Knesset debates over civic national service in Israel, 1977–2007
Etta Bick
Pages: 126-149 | DOI: 10.1080/13537121.2015.1111630
State‒diaspora relations and bureaucratic politics: the Lavon and Pollard affairs
Yitzhak Mualem
Pages: 150-171 | DOI: 10.1080/13537121.2015.1111637
Developing Jaffa’s port, 1920‒1936
Tamir Goren
Pages: 172-188 | DOI: 10.1080/13537121.2015.1111634
University, community, identity: Ben-Gurion University and the city of Beersheba – a political cultural analysis
Yitzhak Dahan
Pages: 189-210 | DOI: 10.1080/13537121.2015.1111631
The Palestinian/Arab Strategy to Take Over Campuses in the West – Preliminary Findings
Ron Schleifer
Pages: 211-235 | DOI: 10.1080/13537121.2015.1111639
Identity of immigrants – between majority perceptions and self-definition
Sibylle Heilbrunn, Anastasia Gorodzeisky & Anya Glikman
Pages: 236-247 | DOI: 10.1080/13537121.2015.1111635
Book Reviews
Jabotinsky: a life
David Rodman
Pages: 248-249 | DOI: 10.1080/13537121.2016.112095

Ethos clash in Israeli society
David Rodman
Pages: 250-251 | DOI: 10.1080/13537121.2016.1120967

Nazis, Islamists and the making of the modern Middle East
David Rodman
Pages: 252-254 | DOI: 10.1080/13537121.2016.1120968
The new American Zionism
David Rodman
Pages: 255-257 | DOI: 10.1080/13537121.2016.1120969
Rise and decline of civilizations: lessons for the Jewish people
David Rodman
Pages: 258-259 | DOI: 10.1080/13537121.2016.1120970

New Article: Mendelsohn, Israel and Its Messianic Right

Mendelsohn, Barak. “Israel and Its Messianic Right: Path-Dependency and State Authority in International Conflict.” International Studies Quarterly (early view; online first).

 

URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/isq/sqv015

 

Abstract

Why do states responsible for unleashing violent nonstate actors fail to halt them despite rising costs and, at best, marginal utility? I argue that a historical-institutionalist approach helps scholars understand these dynamics. I present five path-dependent mechanisms—change in the balance of power, spiraling perception of threat, ideological shift among the public, state penetration, and weakening of the principle of state primacy—that diminish the prospects of policy reversals. I then demonstrate the usefulness of path-dependency analysis in the case of Israel’s entanglement with the Jewish messianic Right. Applying the theoretical framework sheds light on the process that brought Israel prohibitive costs—undercutting the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, undermining the state’s international standing, and weakening the state’s authority and democratic nature—and made policy reversal, in line with the state’s national interest and its responsibilities as a member of the international society, highly unlikely.

 

 

 

New Article: Cohen et al, The Changing Functions and Status of Chaplains in the IDF

Cohen, Stuart, Aaron Kampinsky, and Elisheva Rosman-Stollman. “Swimming against the Tide: The Changing Functions and Status of Chaplains in the Israel Defense Force.” Religion, State and Society (early view; online first).

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URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09637494.2015.1122881

 

Extract

This article describes and analyses the changes that have occurred in the services performed by chaplains in the Israel Defense Force (IDF) – the only military in the world that consists almost entirely of Jews. Essentially, we argue, the shift has been one of focus. For many years, IDF chaplains primarily (albeit never exclusively) concerned themselves with providing religious services to the minority of personnel who observed Orthodox Jewish rituals. ‘Outreach’ programmes, targeted at the secular Jewish majority, were secondary. Recently, however, the IDF rabbinate has undergone a process of ‘role expansion’, emphasising the provision of counselling and guidance to the entire Jewish complement, especially in combat units. In the second part of the article, we analyse the possible reasons for that development: demographic and cultural trends in Israeli society; the prominence of counter-insurgency missions in the IDF’s operational agenda; and the personalities of recent chief chaplains. Finally, we address the possible implications of this shift, asking whether the intra-organisational frictions that it generates, especially with the Education Corps, portends a battle for the soul of the IDF.

 

 

 

ToC: Contemporary Jewry 35.3 (2015)

Contemporary Jewry

Volume 35, Issue 3, October 2015

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

Dissertation: Harel, “The eternal nation does not fear a long road”: An Ethnography of Jewish Settlers in Israel/Palestine

Harel, Assaf. “The eternal nation does not fear a long road”: An Ethnography of Jewish Settlers in Israel/Palestine, PhD thesis, Rutgers University, 2015.

 

URL: http://dx.doi.org/doi:10.7282/T3VD71FW

 

Abstract

This is an ethnography of Jewish settlers in Israel/Palestine. Studies of religiously motivated settlers in the occupied territories indicate the intricate ties between settlement practices and a Jewish theology about the advent of redemption. This messianic theology binds future redemption with the maintenance of a physical union between Jews and the “Land of Israel.” However, among settlers themselves, the dominance of this messianic theology has been undermined by postmodernity and most notably by a series of Israeli territorial withdrawals that have contradicted the promise of redemption. These days, the religiously motivated settler population is divided among theological and ideological lines that pertain, among others issues, to the meaning of redemption and its relation to the state of Israel. This dissertation begins with an investigation of the impact of the 2005 Israeli unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip upon settlers and proceeds to compare three groups of religiously motivated settlers in the West Bank: an elite Religious Zionist settlement, settlers who engage in peacemaking activities with Palestinians, and settlers who act violently against Palestinians. Through a comparison of these different groups, this dissertation demonstrates that while messianism remains a central force in the realities of Jewish settlements and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it exists these days in more diversified forms than before. In addition, this ethnography illustrates how religion both underlies and undermines differences between Israelis and Palestinians and argues that local communities and religious leaders should be included in peace processes. Finally, by examining how messianic conceptions of time among different groups of Jewish settlers connect to their settlement practices, this study reveals the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to be as much about time as it is about space. Accordingly, this dissertation has broader implications for understanding the contemporary role of religion and time within the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the political struggles of the Middle East.

 

 

New Article, Amrami, Therapy Versus Messianism in Preparing for the Evacuation of Israeli Settlements

Amrami, Galia Plotkin. “‘Denial or Faith?’ Therapy Versus Messianism in Preparing for the Evacuation of Israeli Settlements.” Anthropology and Education Quarterly 46.4 (2015): 414-30.

 
URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/aeq.12119
 
Abstract

This article offers an ethnographic account of the professional activities of mental health practitioners, employed by the state’s religious education system. I analyze various models implemented by practitioners for the purposes of preparing pupils for the state-mandated evacuation of Jewish settlers from Gaza and the West Bank. By focusing on the interaction between psychological and religious-national cultural frameworks I show how practitioners imbue familiar professional concepts with new meanings and create hybrid models of intervention.

 

 

 

New Article: Paul-Binyamin & Gindi, Autonomy and Religious Education

Paul-Binyamin, Ilana, and Shahar Gindi. “Autonomy and Religious Education: Lessons from a Six-Year Evaluation of an Educational Reform in an Israeli School Network.” British Journal of Religious Education (early view; online first).

 
URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01416200.2015.1025698
 
Abstract

This study investigated the tension that exists between promoting an educational agenda and practising an educational approach which emphasises autonomy within the framework of religious education. Our main thesis is that every educational deed contains a dialectical tension between endorsing an educational agenda and the promotion of autonomy. Moreover, this tension is not restricted to religious education. The intensity of such a conflict varies in accordance with the flexibility (or inflexibility) of the dogma, the conceptual cohesion of the educational agenda and the perceived importance of granting autonomy to students. The more cohesive and inflexible the educational agenda is, the greater the danger that autonomy will be discarded. The present research examined an educational reform implemented in the National-Religious School Network in Israel, which included the promotion of autonomy among principals, teachers and students. Conducted over a six-year period (2006–2012), the research employed both qualitative and quantitative methodologies and involved various stakeholders in the school network. The multifaceted picture that emerged of the relationship between educational autonomy and religious agenda is presented.

 

 

 

ToC: Israel Studies 21.1 (2016; Narratives of the 1948 war)

Volume 21, Number 1, Spring 2016

Table of Contents

Representations of Israeli-Jewish — Israeli-Palestinian Memory and Historical Narratives of the 1948 War

Edited by Avraham Sela and Alon Kadish

New Book: Lebel & Lewin, eds. The 1973 Yom Kippur War and the Reshaping of Israeli Civil–Military Relations

Lebel, Udi, and Eyal Lewin, eds. The 1973 Yom Kippur War and the Reshaping of Israeli Civil–Military Relations. Lanham, Md.: Lexington Books, 2015.

1498513719

The 1973 Yom Kippur War did not only have external implications on Israel, but also some dramatic internal implications, particularly with regards to the civil-military relations as well as the fields of psychology and political sociology. To this day, the consequences of this war are still prevalent in Israel, in terms of drafting security policies and the military doctrine.
After the war, new identities were formed in the Israeli civil society, which began to function as active agents in shaping security policy. These players are not a unique Israeli case, yet their actions in Israel serve as a case study that illuminates their significant impact in other countries as well. This is due to the fact that the “Israeli Laboratory” is a liberal democratic society living with an ongoing conflict; it has a mandatory army that is sensitive to fluctuations in public opinion, culture and the media; and issues of national security and military conduct are always a top public concern.
Consequently, this book examines the rise of five identities and agents that were formed after the 1973 War and highlights the effects they had on the formation of Israeli defense policy from then on. The book also clarifies the importance of exposure to these agents’ activities, referring to the psycho-political social factors that may actually dictate a state’s international policies. It therefore forms a study that connects sociology, political psychology, international relations, the field of culture studies and studies of strategy planning. Thus, the book is of interest to both the domestic-Israeli field of research and to the global scholarly discourse, particularly to academic disciplines engaged in civil-military relations (political sociology, political science).

 

UDI LEBEL is associate professor and chair of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Ariel University.

EYAL LEWIN is assistant professor at the Department of Middle Eastern Studies and Political Science at Ariel University.

 

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
    Udi Lebel and Eyal Lewin
  • The Combatants’ Protest after the Yom Kippur War and the Transformation of the Protest Culture in Israel
    Eithan Orkibi
  • The Significance of the Yom Kippur War as a Turning Point in the Religious-Zionist Society
    Nissim Leon
  • From Domination to Competition: The Yom Kippur War (1973) and the Formation of a New Grief Community
    Udi Lebel
  • Not Just Intermediaries: The Mediatization of Security Affairs in Israel since 1973
    Rafi Mann
  • The 1973 War and the Formation of Israeli POW Policy: A Watershed Line?
    Alexander Bligh
  • The 1973 War as a Stimulator in the Reshaping of Israeli National Ethos
    Eyal Lewin
  • Index
  • About the Authors

 

New Article: Rosman, Toward a Classification of Managing Religious Diversity in the Ranks

Rosman, Elisheva. ” Toward a Classification of Managing Religious Diversity in the Ranks. The Case of the Turkish and Israeli Armed Forces”. Armed Forces & Society (early view; online first).

 

URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0095327X15613580

 
Abstract

Military establishments view religious soldiers with mixed feelings and must contend with the specific dilemmas these soldiers present. This article suggests what might influence the managing of religious diversity in the ranks, using the idea of dimensions of isolation. The more removed a military is from society, the more likely it is to utilize internal mechanisms when dealing with religious soldiers. The less removed it is from society, the more likely it will be to turn to external mediating mechanisms in this regard. Using three dimensions of isolation (physical, temporal, and psychological), this article discusses the treatment of religious troops in the Israeli and Turkish cases. After exploring what can be learned from these cases regarding the accommodation of religious soldiers, the article concludes with some suggestions for future research.

 

 

 

Conference: AJS Program Book now online (Boston, Dec 13-15, 2015)

The 47th Annual Conference of the Association for Jewish Studies will take place in Boston, December 13-15, 2015.

The full program is now available on the AJS website: http://www.ajsnet.org/conference-menu.htm

You may also download the program here: PDF

 

 

ToC: Journal of Israeli History 34.2 (2015)

Journal of Israeli History, 34.2 (2015)

No Trinity: The tripartite relations between Agudat Yisrael, the Mizrahi movement, and the Zionist Organization
Daniel Mahla
pages 117-140

Judaism and communism: Hanukkah, Passover, and the Jewish Communists in Mandate Palestine and Israel, 1919–1965
Amir Locker-Biletzki
pages 141-158

Olei Hagardom: Between official and popular memory
Amir Goldstein
pages 159-180

Practices of photography on kibbutz: The case of Eliezer Sklarz
Edna Barromi Perlman
pages 181-203

The Shishakli assault on the Syrian Druze and the Israeli response, January–February 1954
Randall S. Geller
pages 205-220

Book Reviews

Editorial Board

New Article: Linfield, Is a Left Zionism Possible?

Linfield, Susie. “Is a Left Zionism Possible?”. Dissent 62.4 (2015): 98-101.

 

URL: http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/dissent/v062/62.4.linfield.html/

 
Abstract

The very posing of this question is profoundly dispiriting. It shows how bad (that is, not left-wing) the political situation of contemporary Israel is; how radically the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has deteriorated; and how historically ignorant and blindly anti-Israeli today’s American left is. The short answer is: yes, of course. Zionism has been Leninist, socialdemocratic, liberal, secular, pacifist, anti-imperialist, proletarian, even, until this became impossible, binational. It has also been militaristic, authoritarian, bourgeois, racist, religious, messianic, imperialist, and neofascist.