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‘Hebrewness’ at the core of a new breed of Israeli Judaism

TJI Pick
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Published: 26 February 2019

Last updated: 4 March 2024

A new identity is sweeping Israel – simultaneously traditionalist, nationalist and liberal

TWO RECENTLY PUBLISHED BOOKS reexamine the metamorphoses undergone by Israeli society. Neither was written by a sociologist, and maybe that’s why it’s easier to see them as milestones. Rami Livni writes about The End of Hebrewness: Why Israel Is Not in a Crisis but in the Midst of a Revolution, while Shmuel Rosner and Professor Camil Fuchs offer #IsraeliJudaism: A Portrait of a Cultural Revolution.

The word “revolution” appears in the title of both books, and both have Srulik - the iconic cartoon character that has come to symbolise Israel - on the cover. No one here apparently intends to leave any doubt. But while Livni delivers a melancholy lament, Rosner and Fuchs, despite their repeated declarations that they’re only reporting from the field, are celebrating.

Livni, an educator, philosopher and cultural critic who writes op-eds for Haaretz, bemoans the fading of “Hebrewness,” invoking a term used by the Zionist pioneers to describe themselves. The pioneers, insisting on their separateness from Diaspora Jews, created Hebrewness on the soil of the Land of Israel.

In contrast to traditional Judaism, Hebrewness isn’t rootless and ghettoised but proud and entrenched, and will transform the Children of Israel into a free and normal people in their own land.

FULL STORY How the new Israeli Judaism was born (Haaretz)

Photo: Srulik, the iconic cartoon character that symbolised Israel, by Kariel Gardosh (aka “Dosh”)

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