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Routledge Handbook on Contemporary Israel

Have a look at our new co-authored chapter:

Taragin-Zeller, Lea and Nurit Stadler. 2022. “Religion in Contemporary Israel: Haredi Varieties” in Routledge Handbook on Contemporary Israel. Edited By Guy Ben-Porat, Yariv Feniger, Dani Filc, Paula Kabalo and Julia Mirsky.

Abstract: Until recently, Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) Jews in Israel were mainly examined through the lens of the “isolated enclave model.” Yet the Haredi sector has undergone radical changes in a wide array of social and cultural spheres. Many of the traits that exemplified Israeli yeshiva fundamentalism at its inception, such as uncompromising dedication to Torah study, the exclusion of women from public life, sizeable families, male asceticism, and community-wide segregation, have all been called into question by community members and modified by grassroots forces. In this chapter, we offer an overview of contemporary Haredi Judaism while using three trends of religious revival – fundamentalism, charismatic manifestations and ritualization. Analytically, these trends can be identified globally, among many other religious groups. Like in other countries, Jewish men and women have reacted to monotheistic ideals of religiosity and produced a variety of new religious experiences that fuse paganism, shamanism, aspects of Buddhist spirituality with new-age spiritualties and Judaism. Demonstrating these trends in the Israeli case, we also build on feminist and critical studies to offer a more nuanced look at fundamentalism, charisma and group worship taking gender, race and inner-communal power struggles into account.

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