When Haredi Jews talk ideology, they talk with enormous self-confidence and single-mindedness. Yet, when one scratches underneath the surface of Israeli Haredi rhetoric, one discovers enormous ambivalence: ambivalence about Zionism, ambivalence about the State of Israel, ambivalence about secular Jews, ambivalence about isolationism, ambivalence about Torah- only education, ambivalence about Israel’s multiculturalism, ambivalence about poverty and the kollel life, and even ambivalence about gender roles and rabbinic authority. Haredi ambivalence in Israel stems from the complexities of trying to implement dogmatic isolationism in the context of a modern, open Jewish society and from the odd situation of being economically and militarily dependent on a State the existence of which Haredi ideology opposes. Borrowing models of sociological ambivalence from the writings of Robert Merton, Zygmunt Bauman, and Victor Turner, this article suggests that “ambivalence” is central to understanding the complex relationship between mainstream Israeli Haredim and the State of Israel. Furthermore, I argue that the current narrative that dominates Israeli studies of Haredi society—the narrative of Israelization—does not succeed in capturing the complexity and multidimensionality of the Haredi encounter with the State.


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pp. 264-293
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