“Between State and Synagogue: The Secularization of Contemporary Israel” by Guy Ben-Porat— The Times They Are A-Changing


between state and synagogue

Ben-Porat, Guy. “Between State and Synagogue: The Secularization of Contemporary Israel” (Cambridge Middle East Studies), Cambridge University Press, 2013.

The Times They Are A-Changing

Amos Lassen

One of the most unique things about the State of Israel is that she is founded on the ideals of the Jewish religion yet has a very large and well-heart secular population (and some actually argue that this is the problem). For myself, having grown up in an Orthodox Jewish home, I had always thought (as a child) that everyone in Israel observed the Sabbath, went to temple everyday and kept kosher (which is the same as thinking that all Catholics say the rosary, go to mass and do not practice birth control).

There are liberal components in Israeli society that take issue with the constraints upon them by the religious factions in the country and their success rate is very low. Now it looks like things are beginning to change. Guy Ben-Porat attributes this change in part to demographic changes and in part because of the influence of an increasingly consumer-oriented society.

These changes often deal with lifestyles and economics and not religion. Now the secular public and the religious presence show no signs of reconciliation between them. Ben-Porat gathered his information from surveys and interviews and in the discussions of marriage, burial, eating pork and doing business on the Sabbath were the main points considered.

The tensions between the religious and the secular will always exist but it certainly seems that Israel is trying to find some kind of compromise situation. In order to understand the nature of Israel society it is necessary to look at the entire picture which this book does so well. Of importance to the LGBT community are the numerous changes and the acceptance by most Israelis.

2 thoughts on ““Between State and Synagogue: The Secularization of Contemporary Israel” by Guy Ben-Porat— The Times They Are A-Changing

  1. Jacob Zeek Campbell

    Amazingly interestiing, Amos. I watched that movie about the guy who shows up at the kosher butcher’s meat market and “signs on” as worker, friend, then disruptive lover…and was so taken with the depth of the Orthodox influence, the beauty of it’s strength and power, although it was formidable it was elegant and allowed such depth of…well…of conflict and restoration. I am always deeply moved by the dialogue between the secular and the orthodox. As a Catholic child, by the way, we prayed the rosary every evening at sunset kneeling–as a family–and myself, I went to Mass every day from five years of age until I was out of high school. My seminary days were quite strict, monastic, of course…I was at the the front of the rebels who wanted to have it both ways. Thanks for your beautiful reviews.

  2. Pingback: Reviews: Ben-Porat, Between State and Synagogue | Online Israel Studies Bulletin Board

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