Journal Article

Ethnic Civil Religion: A Case Study of Immigrants from Rumania in Israel

Rina Neeman and Nissan Rubin

in Sociology of Religion

Published on behalf of Association for the Sociology of Religion

Volume 57, issue 2, pages 195-212
Published in print January 1996 | ISSN: 1069-4404
e-ISSN: 1759-8818 | DOI:
Ethnic Civil Religion: A Case Study of Immigrants from Rumania in Israel

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This paper illustrates the interweaving of civil and traditional religions in an ethnic context, as manifested in a voluntary association of non-religious Rumanian Israelis. We argue that the association is a “visionary” one, offering its members a constructed redefinition of the Rumanian ethnic identity. As this cultural endeavor serves purposes of ethnic integration, legitimation, and mobilization, we term it an “ethnic civil religion.” The ethnic message of the association abounds in traditional Jewish motifs, which are harmonized with the non-religious orientation of members through symbolic strategies employed during activities. The sociocultural profile of the association's members and leaders is conducive to such harmonization. The analysis illuminates how traditional religion and its agents can play a meaningful role for non-religious people who are preoccupied with problems of self and engaged in the quest for ultimate meanings.

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Subjects: Religion ; Sociology of Religion

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