Abstract

This essay discusses the representation of the ultra-Orthodox (Haredi) male body in Avishai Sivan’s noted feature The Wanderer (2010) as representative of contemporary Israeli cinema’s attitude towards Judaic corporeality. Using both sociological and theological literature, it highlights the ways by which this film orchestrates the details of ultra-Orthodox reality to mount a damning critique of Judaic regimes of corporeal regulation. According to this critique, Judaic corporeality exists in a condition of continuous repression, whereby it seeks to absent bodily desires, and even its own material presence. Through the adolescent protagonist Yitzhak, The Wanderer charts a trajectory of transgression and release from this repressive framework. The journey, however, does not entail liberation but rather culminates in destructive violence, consequently allowing the film to define pathological bodily behavior as inescapable both inside and outside the Haredi ghetto. While foregrounding the relevance of this assertion, the essay’s conclusion also traces its limits, which derive from the film’s problematic attempt to reduce ultra-Orthodox corporeality to the contours of certain antisemitic stereotypes of Old World Jewry.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-5165
Print ISSN
0882-8539
Pages
pp. 57-82
Launched on MUSE
2014-10-08
Open Access
No
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