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Captured by Texts

Travel Tales of Captivity in Rabbinic Literature

Joshua Levinson

result of textual contamination from the Babylonian tradition. The fact that this identification appears here in Aramaic while the tale itself is in Hebrew may indicate its secondary status. 15 b. Git 58a (ms. Vatican 130). The meaning of the words

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Instructive Ritual

The Arab Student Union and the Communitas of the Palestinian Israeli Educated

Lauren Erdreich

In spite of state efforts to limit public nationalist ritual of the Palestinian Israeli community, one ritual system, as this article details, is kept intact by the Arab Student Union (ASU). Based on an ethnographic study of the Hebrew University ASU, I show how this ritual system is instructive in a specific, educated Palestinian Israeli identity. Instruction revolves around the root paradigms of a specifically Israeli Palestinian-ness and of the national responsibility of the educated. The instructive ritual system arouses communitas of the educated Palestinian community through instruction carried out in the context of sacralized space and time and by means of the use of ritual art and events, the recruitment of ritual commentators, and the intermeshing of ethos and world-view. This ritual system can be understood as an indigenous Palestinian Israeli pedagogy for liberation.

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Afterword

Returning to Cosmology—Thoughts on the Positioning of Belief

Don Handelman

Cosmology may be helpful in positioning belief. I suggest, through discussing the contributions to this collection, that belief, especially propositional belief, is integral to monotheistic cosmoses that are constituted through gigantic fractures (like that between God and human being). Such fractures distinguish between cosmic interior and cosmic exterior. The fracture as boundary is absolute, paradoxical, not to be breached. Thus, the infinite Hebrew God integrates His finite cosmos by holding it together from its outside. The absolute boundary signifies cosmic discontinuity. Here belief in the unfathomable may be central to overcoming such discontinuity and, so, to integrating cosmos. By contrast, an organic cosmos is held together within itself, is more continuous within itself, is more holistic, and, in flowing through itself, obviates any centrality of belief.

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Timing in Karate and the Body in Its Own Right

Einat Bar-On Cohen

Training toward 'perfect timing' in karate entails deciphering small movements and interpreting them as signs of an opponent's decision to launch an attack. It includes the aptitude to perceive those signs and react to them before the attacker is aware of her own decision. It also depends on the ability of the body to perceive and move without recourse to cognition. This article considers the body in its own right as well as how it is involved in social construction. Following Sheet-Johnstone, the article contends that movement as it is performed is a tool of data collecting, sense making, and action. It attempts to show how movement organizes a social setting that enables intentionality and also opens up the possibility of violence obstructing that intentionality.

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Folding and Enfolding Walls

Statist Imperatives and Bureaucratic Aesthetics in Divided Jerusalem

Don Handelman

This article discusses one vector of statist control in present-day Jerusalem, a divided city that is held together primarily by the bureaucratic and military grip of the Israeli state. This vector is composed through the positioning of four architectural forms, the last three of which have, in particular, qualities of walls, but of walls that enfold. I refer to them as the 'museum-wall', the 'mall-wall', and the 'separation barrier'. These physical forms are brought into conjunction through the idea of vector, used loosely in a topological way (as distinct from topographical), in which value is carried (non-linearly) through space—that is, it is enhanced and made more powerful as it is shaped in its continuing. These walls capture and contain, folding into themselves that which they circumscribe and thereby recursively fortifying themselves.

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High School Graduation Ceremonies

Intergenerational Relations and Models of Social Order

Edna Lomsky-Feder

The aim of this study is to draw out the structural logic of high school graduation ceremonies in general-and in Israel in particular-in order to understand their cultural meaning. The article analyzes 55 accounts of ceremonies held at Israeli-Jewish secondary schools just before the students' conscription into the army. Analysis shows that these events are organized around competing intergenerational models of the social order. Each generational unit locates itself differently vis-à-vis the state order, suspending familial loyalties in the face of loyalty to generational interests. The adults position themselves as representatives of the hegemonic order, while the students demonstrate its arbitrariness and the possibility of resisting it. Thus, the graduation ceremony structurally regulates the intergenerational encounter and the basic conflict between the family and the state on the eve of the students' enlistment.

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Epilogue

Toing and Froing the Social

Don Handelman

Understandably, one would think, the social is the heartland of ritual studies. What is ritual, if not the Durkheimian effervescence of the social? Still, a number of the essays in this volume move towards the borders of the social. Perhaps this has occurred because the contributors were asked to think of ritual in its own right, thereby freeing them from the so deeply embedded anthropological stricture that ritual is social because it must be attached to, relate to, or service some group. Ritual is created by groups and expressive of groups, otherwise it is insignificant. This complicity of ritual and groupness implicitly demands that rite have meaning or function for the social, the raison d’être of ritual’s existence. Thus, the structures, dynamics, and processes of ritual are immediately oriented to the social. Rarely considered is that taking this tack eliminates other possibilities in which thinking on ritual ignores the borders of the social.

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Introduction

Why Ritual in Its Own Right? How So?

Don Handelman

Calvin, who introduces this collection of essays on ritual in its own right, understands ritual as well as many anthropologists. Calvin is dramatizing thematics that I am trying to avoid. Complaining about the peanut butter, spoiled because his mother did not observe the proper ritual for scooping it out, he is telling us: do the ritual correctly. It exists because it has a function—control. Perform control in your ritual, and you will have control in your life. The ritual of how to scoop out peanut butter is a representation of life. Living produces its own symbols, its own reflections, and these are the ritual, existing to enact themes of living—here that of control. The ritual has meaning, otherwise why the argument between Calvin and his mother over its importance for living? For Calvin, scooping out peanut butter is akin to a Geertzian model of and model for living—you scoop peanut butter the way you live your life. One thing is certain: to understand the peanut butter ritual, one begins with life, not with a jar of peanut butter. First, though, let’s have a look at the peanut butter in the jar …

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Imposed Politics of Cultural Differences

Managed Multiculturalism in Israeli Civil Society

Zvika Orr

This article analyzes the processes by which multicultural discourses and practices are implemented and adapted in local settings. Based on five years of ethnographic fieldwork in an Israeli NGO that promotes economic and social rights, this work examines the micro-politics of multiculturalism and the complex uses of this concept by various Jewish and Arab actors in the organization. The research shows how multicultural notions concerning Arab culture were introduced by the Jewish actors in order to depoliticize Jewish-Arab relations and preserve the balance and stability within the organization. By adopting characteristics of state multiculturalism—in a country where multiculturalism is not an aspect of official government policy—the Jewish actors attempted to produce social change while preserving central elements in the hegemonic Zionist-nationalistic worldview.

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The Extended Case

Interactional Foundations and Prospective Dimensions

Don Handelman

The extended case is inherently processual, continuously becoming prospective history. Therefore, the dynamics of the extended case are necessarily temporal; there is no separation between the practice of social life and micro history. Here I ground the emerging temporality of the extended case in interpersonal interaction, in the dynamics of the creation and emergence of micro forms that Erving Goffman called encounters. An extended case emerges from a series of encounters as it moves into its own futures. Therefore, the extended case opens time/space to the practice of process, to the foregrounding of practice as intrinsically dynamic. The prospective perspective of the extended case pays close attention to how social life is practiced into existence as emergent phenomena, without assuming or presuming how social order holds together and falls apart. The extended case argues for a dynamic rather than a structural anthropology.