Jews in Israel: Contemporary Social and Cultural Patterns / Edition 2

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The State of Israel, established over fifty years ago, has long passed the initial stages of nation-building and has become, in many respects, a Western, technological society. Built, in large measure, by ideologically driven Jewish settlement in Eretz Israel (Palestine) in the nineteenth century, early statehood was deeply influenced by the Holocaust, by war and ongoing military struggle with neighboring countries, and by the necessity of absorbing unprecedented numbers of new immigrants with diverse backgrounds. While these factors served to unify Jewish society in Israel for much of its history, the situation has changed in recent years.

Partly as a result of the establishment of formal relations with a number of major Arab neighboring states and the ongoing search for reconciliation with the Palestinian Arabs--which has in recent years flared up yet again--the strengthened self-assurance of Israel's long-term existence has shifted the focus of Israeli public discourse to domestic matters. In addition, Israel has experienced significant socioeconomic development, and along with it, a pattern of individualism characteristic of other advanced Western societies. American influence, particularly consumerism, has also penetrated Israeli social structure. Today Israel is a society in transition, in which different sets of values can increase group tensions and challenge social cohesion.

A multi-authored collection of twenty essays, Jews in Israel is the first volume to systematically explore the challenges and contradictions of Israel as a modern, heterogeneous society. Focusing on the behaviors of people, rather than institutions and organizations, its approach is largely interdisciplinary, with an overriding sociological perspective.

The volume begins with two broadly conceived essays--a social history of Jews in Israel over the last century, and a survey of major demographic trends among Israelis in the 1990s. Topics of other essays include the processes of absorption and the integration of new immigrants such as Soviet and Ethiopian Jews, the kibbutz, the significance of gender in an evolving society, and the influence of major religious political parties, education, national ideology, literature, religious beliefs, and the Holocaust and other paradigms of Jewish identity, and the relationship between Israelis and Diaspora Jews. In their conclusion, the editors address a number of additional challenges facing Israeli Jewry in the twenty-first century, with special emphasis on the tension between the desire to maintain the unique character of the Jewish state, on the one hand, and the values of a modern democratic society, on the other.

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What People Are Saying

Steven Bayme
"A first-rate collection of essays on social trends in Israel which should be required reading in all courses on Israeli society and provides a most useful corrective to the usual emphasis on Israeli politics and foreign policy."
Steven Bayme, National Director of Contemporary Jewish Life, The American Jewish Committee
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Product Details

Meet the Author

UZI REBHUN is Lecturer at The A. Harman Institute of Contemporary Jewry, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. CHAIM I. WAXMAN is Professor of Sociology and Jewish Studies, Rutgers University, and co-editor of Jews in America (UPNE, 1999).
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Table of Contents

Part I: Establishing the Framework for Contemporary Jewish Life in Israel Uzi Rebhun- Major Trends in the Devlopment of Israeli Jews: A Synthesis of the Last Century Sergio DellaPergola- Demography in Israel at the Dawn of the Twenty-First Century Part II: immigration and Social Adaptation Sammy Smooha- Jewish Ethnicity in Israel: Symbolic or Real?
Elazar Leshem and Moshe Sicron- The Soviet Immigrant Community in Israel Steven Kaplan and Hagar Salamon- Ethiopian Jews in Israel: A Part of the People or Apart from the People?
Part III: Social Transformation and Political Orientation Eliezer Ben-Rafael and Menachem Topel- The Kibbutz's Transformation: Who Leads It and Where?
Asher Arian- Elections and Voting Patterns Hanna Herzog - Women in Israeli Society Chaim I. Waxman- Religion in the Israeli Public Square Manifestations of Jewish Identity Eliezer Schweid- Judaism in Israeli Culture Shlomit Levy, Hanna Levinsohn, and Elihu Katz- The Many Faces of Jewishness in Israel Ephraim Tabory- The Israel Reform and Conservative Movements and the Market for Liberal Judaism Elan Ezrachi- The Quest for Sprituality among Secular Israelis Part V: Civil Commitment and Collective Memory Gabriel Ben-Dor and Ami Pedahzur- Civil -Military Relations in Israel at the Outset of the Twenty-First Century Ephraim Yuchtman-Yaar and Ze'ev Shavit- The Cleavage between Jewish and Arab Israeli Citizens Yoram Bilu- The Sanctification of Space in Israel: Civil Religion and Folk Judaism Dalia Ofer- History, Memory, and Identity: Perceptions of the Holocaust in Israel Part VI: Israel and Diaspora Jews Gabriel Sheffer- The Israelis and the Jewish Diaspora Steven Gold- The Emigration of Jewish Israelis Part VII: Conclusion Uzi Rebhun and Chaim I. Waxman- Challenges for the Twenty-First Century List of Contributions Index
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