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Prolonged Singlehood among Religious Zionists

Prolonged Singlehood among Religious Zionists
Religiosity and Individualization in Late Modernity
Ari Engelberg

In late modernity a new reality has been created in Western societies: young people are in no hurry to get married and prefer to enjoy the freedom before they settle down, and at the same time expectations about relationships and marriage have changed. These changes are related to the processes of individualization and an increase in the importance of the individual. In recent decades, this phenomenon has also reached the religious Zionist public in Israel, and urban concentrations of single men and women have been created - the 'bachelor swamps'. In religious Zionism this phenomenon was perceived as a problem, and over the years various enterprises have tried to 'dry up the swamps'.

The book describes the encounter between religious Zionism and this global phenomenon as it is reflected in the narratives of religious single men and women. The questions at the center of the book are: What sets the courtship process apart in the Zionist-religious public and what can be learned from it about expectations regarding relationships? How do single men and women deal with the tension between the Western-liberal narrative that states that single years are used to accumulate experiences, and the religious view that encourages starting a family at a young age? What are the challenges facing single men and women in a religion that is family and community? And what is the position of rabbis and educators in relation to these issues? The book follows the fascinating story of those who are at the forefront of the encounter between Orthodoxy and late modernity and carve for themselves a new life path that previous generations of Torah and mitzvot observant Jews did not know.

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Danacode:   110-20295 ISBN:  978-965-226-593-7 Language:   Hebrew Pages:   240 Weight:   500 gr Dimensions:  17x24 cm Publication Date:   07/2020 Publisher:   Bar-Ilan University Press

 Introduction 11

Structure of the Book 12

Religious Zionism 13

Religion, Family and Singlehood in Religious Zionist Society 17 Clarification of Concepts: Modern Orthodoxy in Late Modernity 19

Methodology 23

Chapter 1: Romantic Love in Religious Zionism 29

From Arranged Marriages to Love Marriages to Intimate Relationships 30

Key Symbols in Religious Zionist Courtship and Marriage 35

Chapter 2: Romantic Love Ideologies: Rabbis, Writers, Poets and Singles 41

Rabbis 41

Deep Currents: Romantic Love in Religious Zionist Writing and Poetry 46

Between Rabbinical Discourse and the Singles Discourse 49

Summary and Discussion 56

Chapter 3: Religious Zionist Dates: Consumer Culture, Gender Relations and Aspirations for Intimacy 59

Religious Singles and Late Modernity 59

Consumer Culture and Courtship 60

Gender and Courtship 64

Conflicts Regarding Gender Roles 67

A Recurring Theme in the History of Orthodoxy? 75

Intimacy 79

Seeking Intimacy across the Gender Separation Gap 81

Seeking Intimacy under the Religious Zionist Courtship Norms 86

Summary 90

A Good Place in the Middle? Between Haredi and Secular Societies 92

Chapter 4: Religious Affiliation and Courtship and Marriage Scripts in Israeli Society 95

Changes in the Lifecycle in Upper Middle Class Society in the West and in Israel 95

Sectors and Lifecycle Scripts 97

Singles’ Ideal Marriage Age 103

Pressures to Marry at the Appropriate Age 105 Differences between Single Men and Single Women 111

Life between Scripts and the Fear of Falling between the Cracks 112

Summary 118

Chapter 5: Between Singles’ Social Networks and the Formal Community 121

A Comparative View of Singles’ Social Networks 122

The Religious Zionist Establishment and Singles’ Social Networks 125

Life in Singles’ Society 127

Mapping the ‘Swamps’ 127

Shabbat, Holidays and Weekdays 129

Shabbat as the Symbolic Heart of ‘the Singles Problem’ 130 The Boundaries of Singles’ Society: Separating the Married and the Singles 132

Ambivalence Regarding Singles’ Society 134

Craving and Despising Singles’ Society 134

Does Living among Singles Delay Marriage? 136

Singles in the Communal Synagogue 138 Does Singlehood Threaten ‘Family Values’? 142

Summary 146

Chapter 6: Religious Challenges: The Appeal of Western Youth Culture and Loneliness 149

Family and Religion 149

Singlehood and Religion: a Comparative Perspective 150

The Appeal of Youth Culture and Depressing Loneliness: Factors Distancing Singles from Devout Religiosity 153

The Appeal of Western Youth Culture 153

Gila 158

Neta 160

Loneliness, Anomie and Antinomian Behavior 161

Summary 165

Chapter 7: Facing the Religious Challenges 169

Moratorium: “This is the Current Situation, Next Year We’ll Do Something Else” 171

Tomer 172

Yoni 174

Analysis 176

Doubters and Boundary Testers 177

Dvir 177

Sharon 179

Analysis 182

Strictly Frum 185

Shai 185

Sara 186

Religious Women and Personal Relationships with God 188

Tamar 189

Sarit 190

Analysis 192

Summary and Discussion 195

Singlehood and the Spectrum of Religious Zionist Religiosity 197

Chapter 8: The Future: Individualization and Religiosity

201 Bibliography 211

Index 227