Religion-Society-State Relations

Local Democracy in Israel: Decentralization, Localism, Participation and Local Politics

The democratic function of local authorities is often disregarded in the public discourse on local government and needed municipal reforms. This deficiency characterizes countries, including Israel, in which local government is not perceived as a cornerstone of national identity. Local democracy has three major functions: representation, consolidation of democratic values and pluralism. This book focuses on the democratic objective of local government in Israel. Its twenty-two chapters review key trends in local democracy and discuss its position in the public and political systems, in civil participation, management of civic life at the local level and local government elections. Four features of local democracy in Israel revealed in the chapters of the book are: distinction, centralization along with neglect, fragility and exploitation, and suspicion and protest. The challenges facing local democracy in Israel are manifested in several courses of action: from below – awakening of the local civil society; from within – adoption of new public management principles by elected politicians and bureaucrats in local government; from above – genuine decentralization of powers by the central state; and from outside – direct interaction with states and international movements, organizations and corporations.

PDF icon Beeri and Razin_Local Democracy in Israel_part a.pdfPDF icon Beeri and Razin_Local Democracy in Israel_part b.pdf
Anshel Pfefer. 2007. The Origins and Future Course of the National-Haredi Public. Jerusalem: Floersheimer Studies. Abstract

In the last two decades the National-Haredi (ultra-orthodox) community has become a central part of the religious public in Israel. This research shows how the national-haredi community recently identifies with extreme right wing political trends and is often reviewed in the general media. Despite that, it has neither been clearly defined nor has it justified an in-depth examination of its cultural, social and spiritual characteristics.

This research is a first attempt of its kind to define the characteristics of this group, highlight significant milestones in its development and the way in which it influenced the religious public and its relationship with the Israeli public at large. It analyzes the transformations witnessed by the religious public which gave rise to this phenomenon, as well as endeavors to predict its future course.

PDF icon pfefer_origins_and_future_course_of_the_national_haredi_public.pdf
Haredi Opposition to Haredi High-School Yeshivas
Yaacov Lupu. 2007. Haredi Opposition to Haredi High-School Yeshivas. Jerusalem: Floersheimer Studies. Abstract

This study pursues the roots of conflict in Haredi society against instituting general studies in Haredi High School Yeshivas. Whereas a silent consent exists for colleges and vocational frameworks which provide such education, the few Yeshivas promoting them are faced with an all-out war. These Yeshivas were established in recent decades to address the growing demand for training ultra-orthodox married men to earn a living, by integrating general education in their religious curriculum. The conflict is associated with ideological justifications, which present the introduction of such studies at this stage in life as prohibited from the very outset. Haredi leadership prefers to present this breach as a new phenomenon, born in Israel, and condemned. Dr. Lupu's study adds historic perspective to the conflict showing that it has plagued Haredi society since its "golden era" of Eastern European Yeshivas even prior to the inception of the State of Israel, and that integrating general studies in the religious curriculum was endorsed by some of the Torah sages in Haredi society.

PDF icon lupu_haredi_opposition_to_haredi_high_school_yeshivas.pdf
Ze’ev Drori. 2005. Between Faith and Military Service: the Haredi Nahal Battalion. Jerusalem: Floersheimer Studies. Abstract

The Haredi Nahal battalion has been operating within the IDF since 1999. It originally intended to admit recruits from the Haredi population, but over the years its lines opened to Yeshivot students, both National-Haredi and Hesder yeshivot alike. The author examines the relationships which developed both within the battalion itself and between the military and the Haredi institutions. Alongside an attempt to evaluate any opportunities rooted in bringing closer a religious population to the IDF, the author examines the risk involved in founding an independent, sectoral unit in the army - a notion quite contrary to the fundamental IDF concept.

PDF icon drori_between_faith_and_military_service.pdf
Between Torah Learning and Earning: A Society of Learners and Providers in London

This study focuses on the correlation between Torah studies and employment in the ultra-orthodox community in London. The findings show that around two thirds of Haredi men work, usually in real estate, commerce or teaching, by contrast to the situation in Israel where the rate is around a third. It appears that London’s ultra-orthodox men seek balances between Torah studies and employment, which manifest themselves in the following categories: A full-time scholar who devotes his entire time to study; a part time scholar engaged in random employment during vacations; a part-time scholar who divides his time equally between study and employment; a breadwinning scholar who works and determines his own study schedule. But for all, the commitment to study remains an integral part of Haredi life.

PDF icon gonen_between_torah_learning_and_earning.pdf
Economic Hardship and Gainful Employment in Haredi Society in Israel: an Insider's Perspective

The author of this study, Rabbi Bezalel Cohen is a graduate of the Lithuanian yeshiva world. From an insider’s perspective and through his involvement in advancing employment in ultra-orthodox society, he offers an analysis of the inherent economic deficiency and its root causes, chief among which is the issue of employment. The analysis raises a series of conceptual and inherent barriers in ultra-orthodox society, which  impede the transition of Haredi men, hitherto engaged in Torah study, into the labor market.

PDF icon cohen_economic_hardship_in_haredi_society.pdf

The year 1996 marked a shift in the attitude of ultra-orthodox society to vocational and academic training for men. Also noted were changes in and expansion of vocational and academic training for women. Across Israel institutions of higher learning for Haredi men and women sprang, adapted to the special heterogeneous needs of this population. Thousands of men and women study in them and prepare themselves for a life of earning and integration into the labor market. This study reviews the shift from ideological, historical and socio-political perspectives and proposes recommendations to substantiate and expand this phenomenon.

PDF icon Lupu _New Directions.pdf
Ahava-Laura Zarembski. 2005. Refracted Vision: An Analysis of Religious-Secular Tension in Israel. Jerusalem: Floersheimer Studies. Abstract

As a sequel to The religious-Secular Divide in the Eyes of Israel's Leaders and Opinion Makers, Refracted Vision discusses the causes and impact of fear; increased segregation; increased insecurity over identity, and decreased commonality on religious-secular relations through a historical analysis. It examines how variables, often blamed for tensions, both impact on and are manifestations of deeper issues. Policy recommnedations offer new ways of strengthening relations, which may alter Israel's current reality and provide for an environment of greater understanding, opportunity and cohesiveness.

PDF icon zarembski_an_analysis_of_religious_secular_tensions_in_israel.pdf
Yohai Hakak. 2005. Spirituality and Worldliness in Lithuanian Yeshivas. Jerusalem: Floersheimer Studies. Abstract

This research examines the attempt to establish the role of Lithuanian Yeshivas as a spiritual alternative to western culture, such that will facilitate the real vocation of every young Haredi man - to come closer to God. The Haredi concept of western culture is one that focuses on "body building" and material possessions and is therefore limited. By contrast Haredi society and the Torah world in particular are viewed as focusing on the spiritual, reaching for a closeness to God and aspiring to sanctity, and hence unlimited. The research examines the difficulties in realizing this utopian vision, so central to understanding the Haredi society of scholars, and these are described against a background of crises in the yeshiva world in recent years and a significant drop from Haredi learning establishments.

PDF icon hakak_spirituality_and_worldliness_in_lithuanian_yeshivas.pdf

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