14203 Jews, Hebrews, Israelis: Cultural Aspects of Jewish Identity 1

Credits: 3 graduate credits in Cultural Studies

Prerequisites: At least two of the following courses: Society, Culture and Representation; Theories and Approaches in Cultural Studies; Anthropological and Sociological Approaches to Cultural Studies; Multiculturalism in Israel

The course is based on a reader edited by Nurith Gertz and Liat Steir-Livny.

The course examines representations of Jewish, Hebrew and Israeli identities in various Israeli cultural texts (painting, sculpture, theater, cinema, poetry, literature, etc.) and discusses the ways in which they were shaped, through the adoption and rejection relations between them, beginning with the rise of the secular hegemony in the Jewish settlement in Eretz Yisrael.

The course aims to show that while, allegedly, Zionism was shaped as a revolt against traditional Judaism, Jewishness, Hebraism and Israeliness are not definitions that represent stable opposing poles, but rather represent ambivalent and hybrid identities that exist side by side, with mutual influences.

Topics: Introduction: Jewishness, Hebraism, Israeliness – relations between nationalism and religion. Part I – Shaping Hebraism – the Yishuv period and the first years of the State: The cultural representation of Hebraism and the “new Jew”; Ashkenazi Hebraism and Jewishness: the cultural representation of European Jewry; Sephardic Hebraism and Jewishness: the cultural representation of the Jewish-Sephardic identity in the countries of origin and in the old Yishuv; Civil religion: the secular-nationalist interpretation of religious texts, holidays and traditional Jewish myths. Part II – Israeliness – Multiple narratives: Israeliness and Mizrachi Judaism: the representation of Mizrachi Jews and Mizrachi-Jewish tradition from the 1960s onwards; Israeliness and Jewish life in Europe: from the margins to the center; Religious Israeliness: the representation of religious Judaism and Zionism in Israeli culture – from the margins to the center; Ultra-orthodox Israeliness: the representation of the Haredi world in Israeli culture – between revulsion and curiosity; Summary: Jewishness, Hebraism, Israeliness – changing identities, ambivalence and fluidity.

1Students may write a seminar paper in this course, although it is not required.