Secularism and Religion in Jewish-Israeli Politics
Traditionists and Modernity
Routledge – 2010 – 304 pages
Common discourse on Jewish identity in Israel is dominated by the view that Jewish Israelis can, and should, be either religious or secular. Moving away from this conventional framework, this book examines the role of secularism and religion in Jewish society and politics.
With a focus on the ‘traditionists’ (masortim) who comprise over a third of the Jewish-Israeli population, the author examines issues of religion, tradition and secularism in Israel, giving a fresh approach to the widening theoretical discussion regarding the thesis of secularisation and modernity and exploring the wider implications of this identity. Yadgar’s conclusions have significant social, cultural and political implications, serving not only as a new contribution to the academic discourse on Jewish-Israeli identity, but as a platform upon which traditionist positions on central issues of Israeli politics can be heard.
Offering a detailed investigation into a central and important Jewish-Israeli identity construct, the book is relevant not only to the study of Jewish identity in Israel but also within the wider social-theoretical issues of religion, tradition, modernity and secularization. The book will be of great interest to students of Israeli society and to anyone looking into the issues of Jewish identity, Israeli nationalism and ethnicity, religion and politics in Israel, and the sociology of religion.
Introduction. Theoretical Framework 1. Traditionism and Choice 2. "Method", "Consistency" and Guilt 3. Traditionism and Observance 4. Cross-Pressures and Traditionist Solitude 5. Traditionism, Ethnicity and Gender 6. Traditionists’ Images of "The Orthodox" and "The Secular" 7. Rabbis, Halachic Reform, and the Non-Orthodox Movements. Conclusion
Yaacov Yadgar is a senior lecturer in the department of political studies at Bar Ilan University in Israel. His research deals with issues of nationalism, ethnicity, religion and Israeli identity. His previous book, Our Story: National Narratives in the Israeli Press was published in Hebrew in 2004 and he has published a number of articles on the subject of nationalism and national identity.