Menachem Mautner

in Law and the Culture of Israel

Published in print January 2011 | ISBN: 9780199600564
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191729188 | DOI:

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This chapter discusses the rise of the Jewish Enlightenment movement in the course of the last two decades of the 18th century. It also discusses four main approaches in Zionist thought as to the culture of the new Jewish society that took shape in Eretz Israel (Palestine) in the first half of the 20th century: the cultural revival approach, identified with Ahad Ha-Am; the halakhic approach; the European culture approach whose two most prominent representatives were Theodor Herzl and Zeev Jabotinsky; and the negation of exile approach. The chapter also considers the key constitutive principles of the new Jewish culture that actually evolved in Eretz Israel in the period from the 1880s until the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948. The basic principle at the foundation of the new culture was ‘Hebrewness’, meaning that it should be the antithesis of the Jewish religious culture of Eastern Europe. Ever since the 1950s, however, ‘Hebrewness’ and ‘negation of the exile’ have been losing stature. Increasingly, room has been given to a self-identity in terms of Jewishness. Also, as a young culture, the new Jewish culture suffered from ‘thinness’. The chapter ends by arguing that during the second half of the 20th century the new Jewish culture underwent three significant metamorphoses: from a self-perception of Hebrewness to a self-perception of Jewishness; from a collectivist worldview to an individualistic worldview; from faith in socialism to neo-liberalism. These processes put the secular Jewish group on shallow, shaky and incoherent ground when it engaged in its kulturkampf with the religious Jewish group in the waning decades of the 20th century.

Keywords: Jewish Enlightenment; Zionism; culture; Ahad Ha-Am; Theodor Herzl; Zeev Jabotinsky

Chapter.  10044 words. 

Subjects: Jurisprudence and Philosophy of Law

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