In Israel, personal status is regulated through religious law. This gives Orthodox rabbis the state-sanctioned power to define who is Jewish and to enable and recognize marriage. The impediments that religious law poses to same-sex couples and their children are serious: same-sex couples are excluded from marriage, and their children's religious status is at risk. In this article, I contrast these rabbinic exclusions with the ways that same-sex couples, both religious and non-religious, use Jewish traditions to establish social legitimacy and belonging for themselves and their children. Based on ethnographic findings, the article suggests that the Jewish ritual of circumcision for boys and childbirth celebrations for girls are moments in which relationships are reaffirmed. Even more so, the social networks displayed at these events and the participation of religious specialists (mohalim) performing the circumcision carry a clear message: these families are authentically a part of the Jewish-Israeli collective despite rabbinic opposition.
The Challenges of Same-Sex Parenthood
What Has Changed after Twenty Years in Israel?
Larissa Remennick and Anna Prashizky
Most former Soviet immigrants who arrived in Israel had a secular or atheistic outlook, with only a small minority leaning toward Orthodox Judaism or Christianity. To understand how 20 years of life in the ethno-religious polity of Israel have influenced their religious beliefs and practices, we conducted a survey of a national sample of post-1990 immigrants. The findings suggest that most immigrants have adopted the signs and symbols of the Jewish lifestyle. They celebrate the major religious holidays in some form, and many are interested in learning more about Jewish culture and history. We interpret these changes mainly as an adaptive response aiming at social inclusion in the Israeli Jewish mainstream rather than actually emerging religiosity. Few immigrants observe the demanding laws of kashrut and Shabbat, and even fewer attend synagogues and belong to religious communities. Their expressed attitudes toward state-religion matters reflect their ethno-nationalist stance, which is more typical for ethnic Jews than for partial or non-Jews.
The Social Evolution of Alterman's “Don't You Give Them Guns”
Nathan Alterman's poem “Don't You Give Them Guns” echoed European post–World War I anti-war literature. Curiously, the poem turned into a key text in a ritual instituted by members of the elite Jewish underground fighting force, the Palmach, which was established during World War II. This article is an attempt to understand how a pacifist poem came to be used by Jewish-Israeli soldiers at the heart of the 1948 War of Independence. In terms of theory, the analysis dwells on the relations between text and social context, arguing that alternative social ideas conceal themselves in poetry and other literary forms. These texts can be likened to undercurrents that preserve hidden social concerns. To follow the changing role of such texts, the article considers the fate of “Don't You Give Them Guns” from its birth in 1934 to its later manifestations in the early twenty-first century.
A Paradigm Shift in Israel Studies?
In 2010, more than two decades after the first post-Zionist studies rattled Israeli academe, Asaf Likhovsky (2010) suggested that several studies that were published in the first decade of the current century are perhaps pointing at a new direction in the field of Israel and Zionist studies. Likhovsky described these studies as a third wave in Israeli historiography and referred to the scholars who produced these studies as “post-post-Zionists.” While older historians of Israel and the Yishuv as well as their post-Zionist critics were primarily interested in the grand political themes of the Zionist era, Likhovsky (2010: 10) identified a series of studies that, as he put it, “are interested in mentalities, rituals, mannerisms, emotions; the trivial, private, mundane; the body and soul and their social construction; in disgust and desire; in attitudes to garbage and hair; in views of food and consumption; in statistics and vaccinations; in the ideas of housewives, but also lawyers, statisticians, psychoanalysts, and nurses (but not the politician, the soldier, the general).”
Kobi Peled, Thomas Mitchell, Kenneth Waltzer, Brent E. Sasley, Hillel Cohen, and Laura Zittrain Eisenberg
investigates burial and grieving rituals, the roles of living dervishes, and the postmortem worship of ancestors, saints, and prophets. The rituals encompassing the graves of various mediators between earthly life and heavenly spheres are at the heart of this
Religious Engagements in the Film Ha-Mashgihim (God’s Neighbors)
choice to open the film with the Kiddush ritual in its entirety, spoken with full intent ( kavanah ) and emotion, gives us notice of the film’s intimate focus on the religious sphere and the space of the Mizrahi home. The opening quotation offers us a
who wishes to enter the Temple Mount area must first immerse in a mikveh (ritual bath) to be purified of emissions. Entrance to the Temple area, by contrast, requires purification from the presence of the dead. This requires a ritual in which water
Noa Hazan and Avital Barak
political sphere and the visual one, and the process of the iconization of an image in light of the political interest that it arouses. Last, we will review photographs of rituals conducted by members of the Temple Mount movements in recent years and analyze
The Looming Absence of the Temple
adorned mosaic floors in ancient synagogues, as well as burial artifacts, ritual objects, and everyday life in the late Roman and Byzantine periods. In the aftermath of the destruction of the Temple, these images recalled an intact, undestroyed Jerusalem
The Israeli Communist Commemoration of the Spanish Civil War, 1936–1986
the darker side of Soviet involvement in Spain remained out of bounds, of course) and by 1960 had become an integral part of the myth. The war myth was kept alive and disseminated to the population through a plethora of rituals and hero cults. The