An Evolving Secularism: Yom Kippur Streets in Israel

By Yehuda C. Goodman

Association for Jewish Studies (AJS), Spring 2011

Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, is celebrated in Israel as a complete sabbatical. All business and entertainment shuts down. Observant Jews spend the entire day fasting and praying in synagogues. Many seculars fast, some spend some time in the synagogues, some stay at home with their families, some rent lots of DVDs in advance in order to spend the day watching movies, and others prepare to wander around on bicycles. Yom Kippur scenes offer yet another opportunity to rethink secularism in the Jewish-Israeli context and perhaps in other modern nation-states as well. Secularism is different for different countries, both in its politics and in its historical trajectories. When inquiring into secularism(s) scholars should try to combine the ethnographic details, the nuanced meaning of non-religious realities, with the broader political milieu in which these are worked out. Secularism, however, is not an empirical question alone. It is also a moral question insofar as it is tied up with political ideologies about the nature, structure, and values that should govern the public sphere.

Topic: Ritual, Religious Observance, Jewish Identity, Israeli Culture, Religion, Secularism, Identity, Zionism

Name of Publication: AJS Perspectives: The Magazine of the Association for Jewish Studies

Editor: Bunzl, Matti , Havrelock, Rachel

Volume/Issue: Spring 2011

Page Number(s): 34-36

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Genre: Article

Coverage: Israel

Language: English

Copyright Holder: Publisher

Copyright Information: Download for personal use, freely distribute link

Bibliographic Information:
Goodman, Yehuda C. An Evolving Secularism: Yom Kippur Streets in Israel. AJS Perspectives: The Magazine of the Association for Jewish Studies. Association for Jewish Studies (AJS). Spring 2011: 34-36.


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