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Despair and Deliverance

Private Salvation in Contemporary Israel

Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi

Publication Year: 1992

The author examines the varieties of religious and secular salvation that have recently appeared in Israel as evidence for Israelis’ willingness to embrace private salvation in the face of immense cultural upheavals. Drawing on interviews, field observations, clinical data, and media reports collected over ten years, he surveys four roads to private salvation: the return to Judaism, new religions (sects or cults), psychotherapy movements such as est, and occultism. These dramatic forms of conversion are unique to Israeli society within the last decade, and Beit-Hallahmi provides a social history and social psychology of this transformation.

Published by: State University of New York Press

Series: SUNY series in Israeli Studies

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. vii

I want to acknowledge my debts to many friends and colleagues, who have helped with data, encouragement, criticism, and support during the years of work on this book. Among them were: Netta Amir, Hanni Amit-Kochavi, Issachar Arbel, Myron J. Aronoff, Sara Avni, Victor Azarya, Nitza Ben-Arie, Nachman Ben-Yehuda, Nehama ...

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Prologue: Miracles of Self-Transformation

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pp. 1-10

The man sitting across the table from me was unusually handsome, confident in his manner, and articulate. Like many Israelis, he was a chain-smoker, and looked more like an athlete than like the scientist that he was, holding a faculty position at a leading university. He was telling me the story of his individual salvation, his conversion from ...

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1 Beyond the Pale New Religions in Israel

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pp. 11-48

In February 1982, an interdepartmental government commission was appointed by the Education Minister, to investigate and report on "Eastern cults." The appointment of this commission was in itself an indication of the growth of new religions in Israel. It was a result of pressure from parents' groups, religious orthodox groups, and ...

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2 Back to the Fold:The Return to Judaism

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pp. 49-72

Religion, for Israelis, means Judaism, and more specifically, Orthodox Judaism. Eighty-five percent of the population in Israel is defined as Jewish, and this definition is legally made by the State. Laws respecting the establishment of religion have been made in Israel, and in this it is like many European countries. What is almost unique in Israel is ...

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3 The Triumph of the Occult

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pp. 73-99

In early 1986, the executive assistant to the chief of staff of the Israel Defense Forces (I.D.F.), General Alik Harmatz, went to Jerusalem to visit the home of a civilian and to receive personally a document prepared by that civilian. It does not happen very often that a general is sent personally to collect documents from civilians, but the mission ...

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4 The Liberated Self:Developing a Psychotherapy Subculture in Israel

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pp. 101-131

An oft-quoted remark expresses the inherently problematic nature of psychotherapy: "Psychotherapy is an undefined technique applied to unspecified cases with unpredictable results. For this technique, rigorous training is required" (Raimy, 1950, p. 93). Meltzoff and Kornreich (1970) described psychotherapy as the application of procedures ...

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5 Crisis and the Search for Salvation

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pp. 133-159

I have grouped together four cultural developments, which I have called roads to salvation and which have all appeared during the same historical period in the same place. It seems obvious to suggest that these innovations are reactions to a serious historical crisis. The question, nevertheless, remains. Why have the reactions taken these ...

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6 Forming and Preserving the New Self

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pp. 161-183

The most poignant demonstration of the Israeli yearning for security in the face of annihilation threats is the group known as Immortality, which is the Israeli branch of a United States group known as the Eternal Flame Foundation. The Eternal Flame is a U.S. "New Thought" group "dedicated to building a deathless world." It was ...

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pp. 185-194

We have now reached a view of private salvation as a reaction to deprivation and oppression, an oppression that is not always visible to the naked eye but is subjectively experienced by the seekers who have found salvation and by those who are still looking for it. Their suffering and anguish is no less serious than those of natives in faraway ...


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pp. 195-217


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pp. 219-221

E-ISBN-13: 9780791496183
E-ISBN-10: 079149618X
Print-ISBN-13: 9780791409992
Print-ISBN-10: 0791409996

Page Count: 221
Publication Year: 1992

Series Title: SUNY series in Israeli Studies