Between 2011-2016, I conducted an extensive multi-sited ethnographic study of reproductive politics and religion in Israel. This project examines the ways in which Orthodox Jews in Israel reorient conflicting social, religious, and national desires amidst an evolving framework of reproductive governance. I take desire as an analytical tool to understand the everyday decisions that unfold amidst an historical moment of social transformation, where steep cutbacks in child benefits are targeting Israel’s rapid religious growth as part of a struggle over the future face of the ‘Jewish State. My conclusions are based on over forty interviews conducted with a range of differently positioned social actors, from Orthodox men and women to bridal counsellors, Jewish law consultants, rabbinic experts and gynecologists. I interweave these interviews with observational notes made at over fifty conferences and classes on Jewish sexuality and family life, and analysis of handbooks and manuals about the Jewish family.
“Towards an Anthropology of Doubt: The Case of Religious Reproduction in Orthodox Judaism”, Journal of Modern Jewish Studies (2019), illustrates how critique of high fertility standards is based on particular social and cultural capital only available to the religious elite. I argue that not only is stratified critique based on social and cultural capital, it also reproduces social inequalities.