The Making of Modern Jewish Identity: Ideological Change and Religious Conversion, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

The Making of Modern Jewish Identity

Ideological Change and Religious Conversion, 1st Edition

By Motti Inbari


272 pages

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Hardback: 9780367135959
pub: 2019-06-13
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This book explores the process that led several modern Jewish leaders to make radical changes to their ideology regarding Zionism, Socialism, and Orthodoxy. The research compares their ideological change to acts of conversion, and examines the philosophical, sociological, and psychological path of their transformation.

The figures are the novelist Arthur Koestler, who transformed from a devout Communist to an anti-Communist crusader following the atrocities of the Stalin regime; Norman Podhoretz, who as the editor of Commentary Magazine moved from the New Left to a neo-Conservative, disillusioned by liberal politics in the US.; Issachar Shlomo Teichtel, who transformed from an ultra-Orthodox anti-Zionist Hungarian rabbi to messianic Religious-Zionist due to the events of the Holocaust which he did not survive; Ruth Ben-David, who converted to Judaism after the Second World War in France because of her sympathy with Zionism and the fate of the Jews during the war, but eventually became a radical anti-Israeli advocate; Haim Herman Cohn, Israeli Supreme Court Justice, who grew up as a non-Zionist Orthodox Jew in Germany, but later renounced his belief in God due to the events of the Holocaust; and Avraham (Avrum) Burg, a prominent centrist Israeli politician who served as the Speaker of the Knesset and head of the Jewish Agency, but later became a post-Zionist.

Table of Contents


1. Moving Away From Communism: The Case of Arthur Koestler

2. "Is it good for the Jews?" The Conversion of Norman Podhoretz, Editor of Commentary Magazine, from the New Left to Neoconservatism

3. From Anti-Zionist Orthodoxy to Messianic Religious Zionist: the Case of Yissachar Shlomo Teichtel

4. From Spiritual Conversion to Ideological Conversion: The Quest of Ruth Ben-David

5. The "Deconversion" of Haim Herman Cohn: A Model of Secular Religion

6. Avraham (Avrum) Burg between Religious-Zionism and Post-Zionism

Concluding remarks

About the Author

Mordechai Inbari is Associate Professor, The University of North Carolina at Pembroke

About the Series

Routledge Jewish Studies Series

Studies, which are interpreted to cover the disciplines of history, sociology, anthropology, culture, politics, philosophy, theology, religion, as they relate to Jewish affairs. The remit includes texts which have as their primary focus issues, ideas, personalities and events of relevance to Jews, Jewish life and the concepts which have characterised Jewish culture both in the past and today. The series is interested in receiving appropriate scripts or proposals.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
POLITICAL SCIENCE / World / Middle Eastern
RELIGION / Judaism / General
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Jewish Studies