- On Hasamba 3GNewer Kinds of Jews
Hasamba 3G is a cable television series that ran for two seasons in Israel (HOT 3, 2010HOT 3, 2013). The show is a televised sequel to an original children’s book series also titled Hasamba (“The Absolutely Absolute Secret Bunch”) in Hebrew. The book series, written by former Palmach member Yigal Mossinson, ran from 1949 until the author’s death in 1994. The books tracked the adventures of a group of Israeli teenagers—members of the “first generation”—who fought hostile Palestinians and British Mandate forces in the formative years of the Yishuv and shortly after independence. The adventures of the original group’s children were recounted in a sequel book series about the second generation of Hasamba. The televised sequel, Hasamba 3G, written by Dror Nobelman and Ruti Zaid, recounts the adventures of the grandchildren of members of the original group, who are still around to help the newest recruits save the nation.
Hasamba 3G rewrites Zionist history and represents a new stage in Jewish nationalism. Zionism on the show is seen not solely as a national movement influenced by the core values of Jewish Enlightenment but as one that seeks to redefine Judaism itself. The relationship among nation, state, and religion [End Page 104] presented on the show reflects profound changes in Israeli society and a new vision for its future.
Attitudes toward religion in most of the Hasamba books and episodes of the television series fluctuate. In the book series, the 1G young fighters were intended to represent the best of the “New Jews” and the split from the “galut”—that is, the Diaspora and its institutionalized and folk religion. The New Jews—secular, manly, and autochthonous—did not want anything to do with the shtetl. Although most of the so-called New Jews had received a traditional Jewish education and grown up in Orthodox families, they preferred to relate to Judaism as a culture and to Israel as a nation; they turned their backs on Jewish practices and religiosity. Thus Hasamba 1G, in accordance with this generation’s doctrine, never cared much about religion.
The second generation of Israelis grew up in an educational system that already did not teach the “Jewish bookcase,” apart from the Bible, which was presented as a quasi-mythical history book. Typically this generation knew little about Judaism. They were born secular Israelis; they grew up that way and took pride in this heritage. But from the 1990s on, a subterranean stream of Hebrew writings began to reveal what Ruth Kartun-Blum called “the burden of secularity”1 and a secret yearning for the numinous. This development, however, was not reflected in Hasamba 2G, which, after all, was written by the first-generation Mossinson.
The third generation of Israelis, influenced by New Age and minority politics, became more open to religious precepts that only lurked in the subconscious of their parents and grandparents. The show plays with five key concepts relating to Jewish and Israeli identity today: “who is a Jew?”; “the land of our fathers”; “the chosen people”; “the holy man”; and “Judeo-Christianity.” All five trace the changes in Israeli culture with regard to religion and state.
Who Is a Jew?
When this question arose in the early 1950s in the Knesset (the Israeli parliament), it was widely debated, for it would determine who could automatically become a citizen of the newly established State of Israel. According to the Israeli law of return, one is regarded a Jew if he/she was born to a Jewish mother or father, had a Jewish grandmother or grandfather, or had converted to Judaism.2 The Knesset was trying to interpret the religious law in the context of a secular polity. What [End Page 105] it came up with was a “half-breed” law that mixed religion and nationalism; it acknowledges as Jews people who, according to Jewish law (Halakha), are not Jewish, because they were not born to a Jewish mother.
While religion was never an issue for...