Inbari, Motti. “Messianic Religious Zionism and the Reintroduction of Sacrifice: The Case of the Temple Institute.” In Rethinking the Messianic Idea in Judaism (ed. Michael L. Morgan and Steven Weitzman; Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2014): 256-73.
The obscuring of the question of the Temple Mount by early Zionist messianists, both Religious and secular, invited challenges to the Zionist establishment. Scholem wanted the Zionist messianic myth to develop without a yearning for a Third Temple as part of the end of days. Yet Scholem’s conscious denial of the historical desire could not quash the desire. The growing trend of Jewish prayers on the Temple Mount and the vigorous activities of the Temple Institute, discussed above, suggest that the vision of the Third Temple has emerged as a widely accepted component of contemporary Israeli Jewish messianism.
In Conscientious Objectors in Israel, Erica Weiss examines the lives of Israelis who have refused to perform military service for reasons of conscience. Based on long-term fieldwork, this ethnography chronicles the personal experiences of two generations of Jewish conscientious objectors as they grapple with the pressure of justifying their actions to the Israeli state and society—often suffering severe social and legal consequences, including imprisonment.
While most scholarly work has considered the causes of animosity and violence in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Conscientious Objectors in Israel examines how and under what circumstances one is able to refuse to commit acts of violence in the midst of that conflict. By exploring the social life of conscientious dissent, Weiss exposes the tension within liberal citizenship between the protection of individual rights and obligations of self-sacrifice. While conscience is a strong cultural claim, military refusal directly challenges Israeli state sovereignty. Weiss explores conscience as a political entity that sits precariously outside the jurisdictional bounds of state power. Through the lens of Israeli conscientious objection, Weiss looks at the nature of contemporary citizenship, examining how the expectations of sacrifice shape the politics of both consent and dissent. In doing so, she exposes the sacrificial logic of the modern nation-state and demonstrates how personal crises of conscience can play out on the geopolitical stage.
Erica Weiss teaches anthropology at Tel Aviv University.
Numerical commemoration is a distinctive form of group remembrance in which the collective number of those who make up the group serves as the mnemonic key to the past. The article examines the modern Israeli practice that focuses on the numerical commemoration of patriotic sacrifice and examines its social and ideological underpinnings. The study analyzes the distinct patterns and variations of Israeli numerical commemorations and the unique challenges that this mnemonic tradition faces given its abstract, impersonal and ahistorical character. The discussion addresses the transformations that numerical commemoration has undergone in recent decades, the cultural strategies employed in its support, and the complex interplay between national and local memories in maintaining a mnemonic tradition.
Popular mainstream cinema often sensationalizes, stigmatizes, and even ridicules religions, faiths, congregations, and the religiously observant. The (mis)representation of religious communities is sometimes even more negative in films that centre on religious gay men, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people, and their presumably homophobic congregations. This article offers an initial exploration of a new kind of Israeli film at the beginning of the third millennium, defined here as the New Israeli Religious Queer Cinema. These films, mostly created by religious filmmakers who are members of sexual minorities, are intended to promote tolerance and greater acceptance of homosexuality by the Jewish Orthodox communities in Israel. This research, particularly focused on Chaim Elbaum’s acclaimed short film And Thou Shalt Love (2008) [Ve’ahavta], examines the cinematic attempts to reduce hostility towards sexual minorities among religious believers, and problematizes the portrayal of the young protagonist’s angst and this new cinema’s politics of martyrdom and victimhood. The article also analyses the creation of a sort of Jewish version of Saint Sebastian, the ancient Christian martyr who is often perceived as a gay icon, and this new cinema’s genuine attempts to explore homoerotic subtleties in Jewish tradition.