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Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
Strategic Alliances for a Secure, Connected, and Prosperous Region

Post-Truth Politics and Invented Traditions:
The Case of the Haredi Society in Israel

Filed under: World Jewry
Publication: Jewish Political Studies Review

Jewish Political Studies Review
Volume 31, Numbers 3-4


Today, particularly following the election campaign to the presidency of the United States in 2016 and the introduction of the phrase “Fake News” to the daily vocabulary, the concept of “Post-Truth Politics” is well established. The phrase “post-truth” was defined by Oxford Dictionary as an adjective “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.” This phrase was elected the dictionary’s Word of the Year in 2016. Wikipedia (October 20, 2020) defines “Post-Truth Politics” as: “a political culture in which a debate is framed largely by appeals to emotion disconnected from the details of policy, and by the repeated assertion of talking points to which factual rebuttals are ignored.”

In this article, the term “Politics” is used in its broader sense to indicate the quest of prominent Haredi rabbis to establish a society based on extraordinarily strict religious characteristics which, save for a very small minority, were never accepted as binding norms by the majority of observant Jews. One of the key elements used to achieve this goal was the use of Post-Truth Politics.

For many centuries, observant Ashkenazi Jews slowly developed unique religious norms and traditions, which were later known as Jewish Orthodoxy.1 Contemporary scholars referred to those who observed the rules more strictly as ultra-Orthodox or Haredi. Until the beginning of the 19th century, observant Jews consisted an absolute majority among the Jews. Then, social trends of urbanization, enlightenment, acculturation, and secularization diminished their share to a relatively small minority. The percentage of Orthodox, and especially ultra-Orthodox Jews, continued to drop until the Holocaust.

Prior to the Holocaust, the number of Jews in Eretz Israel – Palestine – was only a few hundred thousand, most of them secular. So, despite being known as the Holy Land, it had only a small number of important rabbis and yeshivas. In addition, since among the millions who immigrated to the United States, only a small fraction continued to observe the Jewish laws strictly, Jewish Orthodoxy was almost completely concentrated in Europe, while ultra-Orthodoxy prevailed mainly in Eastern Europe. Since the ultra-Orthodox were more reluctant to immigrate to other countries in which living as observant Jews was more difficult, the Holocaust not only caused the death of most ultra-Orthodox Jews but also devastated all their social and educational institutions. After the Holocaust, ultra-Orthodoxy had to rebuild itself in two locations in which Orthodoxy never really flourished – the United States and Israel.

The State of Israel was established in 1948 by the Zionist movements, which, by and large, were secular. Immediately after its establishment, it faced the War of Independence, and once it was over, it had to absorb hundreds of thousands of immigrants, including many destitute Holocaust survivors. This triggered a deep and prolonged economic recession. In addition, both the Holocaust and the establishment of Israel drove many of the young ultra-Orthodox either to completely abandon religion or to become religious-Zionists. Consequently, following the Holocaust, ultra-Orthodox Judaism was in a catastrophic state and the remaining rabbis had to find new ways to revive it.

In the introduction to the book he co-edited, titled Invented Traditions, Eric Hobsbaum writes:

“Traditions” which appear or claim to be old are often quite recent in origin and sometimes invented… “Invented traditions” is taken to mean a set of practices, normally governed by overtly or tacitly accepted rules and of a ritual or symbolic nature, which seek to inoculate certain values and norms of behavior by repetition, which automatically implies continuity with the past… We should expect it to occur… when a rapid transformation of society weakens or destroys the social patterns for which the “old” traditions had been designed, producing new ones to which they were not applicable, or when such old traditions and their institutions carries and promulgates no longer prove sufficiently adaptable and flexible, or are otherwise eliminated.2

Several studies reviewed the rise of ultra-Orthodoxy in America3 and the ways in which contemporary Haredi authors dealt with inconvenient historical, biographical, and scholarly texts.4 This article will describe how in order to re-establish ultra-Orthodoxy in post-Holocaust Israel, Haredi rabbis and spokesperson presented new norms and costumes while claiming they were old traditions. These, however, were invented traditions that were part of the Post-Truth Politics employed in order to establish and strengthen Haredi society in the State of Israel.

Jewish Orthodoxy’s Historical Decline

Over the past two centuries, Orthodox Judaism – namely traditional Jews who strictly observe the halakha (the codex of Jewish religious laws) – faced numerous challenges and was obliged to defend itself in the face of various social and historical trends and events that threatened its very existence. In the wake of Europe’s enlightenment movement and subsequent tides of secularization and acculturation, observant Jews, who once constituted an overwhelming majority of the Jewish people, became a minority.5 Many Jewish communities, once known for their famous rabbis and conservative observant lifestyle, rapidly became centers of haskala (Jewish enlightenment). Consequently, the rabbis, who once represented the views of observant Jews who comprised a majority within the community, now had to find a new strategy compatible with the halakha to maintain some control over a community in which the share of non-observant Jews was constantly rising.6

New challenges arose toward the end of the nineteenth century. The mass migration to the United States from European communities depleted their young generation, on which they relied to fill the ranks. Moreover, those who migrated did so in the knowledge that in America, they would have to relinquish their traditional lifestyle and settle for a far less observant one.7 Simultaneously, a new and exciting international movement – Zionism – began to attract the younger generation. The Zionist leaders, predominantly secular maskilim, sought to exchange the traditional Jewish religious values and lifestyle for new secular ideologies such as socialism and nationalism, alongside a secular and modern culture.8 This trend was epitomized by the adoption of the once exclusively holy language, Hebrew, as a commonly spoken language, replacing the traditional Yiddish.9

During the interwar period, the number of observant Jews continued to drop to an estimated one-third to one-tenth of the general Jewish population in the various European countries.10 Even in Palestine – The Land of Israel – rampant Zionist activity now turned the once holy land into a place inhabited predominantly by secular Jews.11

The Holocaust was the worst blow of all. Given their conservative nature, Orthodox Jews were loath to emigrate, fearing that the religious infrastructure abroad would not allow them to raise further generations of God-fearing children. Consequently, most Orthodox Jews, along with their leading Torah institutions, remained in Europe and many of them were annihilated during the Holocaust.

From an Orthodox point of view, the post-Holocaust situation was catastrophic. Save for a handful that managed to escape to other countries either before or during the Holocaust, all the European yeshivas were utterly destroyed. All the formerly great Jewish communities were obliterated, and many thousands of great rabbis, Hasidic leaders, and Jewish scholars perished. Thousands upon thousands of Talmud Torah children, who were to become the next generation of Orthodox Jewry, did not survive the calamity.12 In addition, many of the ultra-Orthodox survivors, especially the younger ones, were unable to cope with their former rabbis’ warnings against Zionism and the emigration in the Land of Israel, or with the thought that the almighty God allowed the Holocaust. They, in turn, left ultra-Orthodoxy and became either religious-Zionist or secular.13 Orthodox Judaism was on the brink of extinction.

The establishment of the Haredi society in the State of Israel after the Holocaust was an unprecedented event in the history of the Jewish people. Never before had there been a modern Jewish state in which observant Jews constituted only a small minority of the general population, and never before had the fate of Orthodox Judaism been so uncertain. Haredi leaders dreaded that the founding of the Zionist Jewish state in the wake of the total annihilation of the Torah centers in Europe and loss of faith in a God that had allowed so great a calamity would spell the end of traditional Judaism for which observance of the halakha was the overriding principle. Seeking to stem the tide of religious Jews who were abandoning their former traditional way of life, Haredi leaders felt impelled to invent new religious and social standards that had never existed. The most effective way for them to justify such innovative steps and to convince their followers to accept these radical changes was to claim that they merely constituted a continuation of past traditions.

The Virtue of History

For Orthodox Jews, the most important feature of tradition is the imperative to maintain the halakha, the codex of Jewish laws. Most halakhic adjudicators assert that rulings made by former rabbis bear greater weight than those made by later ones. This is because the Torah was given at a certain point in the past. Since its values are eternal, the sages who lived close to the formative events, namely the acceptance of the Torah and the writing of the Mishnah and the Talmud, could comprehend and interpret their inner meaning far better than those who lived in later times. This reasoning is expressed in the concept of “the decline of the generations” (yeridat ha-dorot) and in popular sayings such as “generations are constantly deteriorating” (holekh u-pohet ha-dor).14

This concept is perfectly manifested in a phrase coined by Rabbi Moshe Sofer, also known after his book’s title Hatam Sofer, whom many consider the founder of Orthodoxy and the person who articulated its fundamental principles. His saying: “All that is new is forbidden by the Torah,” is far and away the most dominant principle of Orthodox Judaism in modern times. It means that if Orthodox Jews are to learn how to live their lives correctly, and if the rabbis are to learn how to rule according to the Torah’s true values, they must always look back to the past. Since relying on precedents is the trusted way for observant Jews to distinguish between right and wrong, historiography became an extremely powerful tool in the hands of Orthodox leaders.

Before the Holocaust, Orthodox Judaism was concentrated in Eastern Europe, while the Orthodox communities in Palestine and the United States were of negligible importance. Consequently, when Orthodox Judaism set out to re-establish itself in Israel after the Holocaust, it needed to find a new foundation upon which to build its future. Relying on the Eastern European legacy was not a viable option since the social, political, demographic, and economic conditions in Israel after the Holocaust were totally different to those that had pertained in Eastern Europe. Therefore, when the leading surviving rabbis set about rebuilding Orthodox Judaism, they had to adopt a new and almost unprecedented array of religious norms.

Among its major elements were the principle of humra, namely stricter observance and more stringent halakhic demands; da’at torah, or the obligation to obey the rabbis in all aspects of life, including those unrelated to halakhic principles; and the establishment of “the learning men’s society,” whereby newlywed Haredi men were expected to continue to study in the yeshiva while their wives, who take charge of running the home and raising the children, are also the main breadwinners for the family.15 To justify these extraordinary innovations, Haredi spokespersons were obliged either to ignore or modify past history, or simply to invent a new one.

In the following, we discuss several examples in which history was either ignored or altered to facilitate the establishment of a new generation of Haredi Judaism and to justify the new norms by which it lived.

1. Denying 250 Years of Non-Observance

A common accusation that a Haredi debater levels at his non-religious counterpart is that while both their grandfathers or great-grandfathers were observant Jews, the non-religious person has severed the chain of a generations-long Jewish tradition. When non-observant Jews who are not versed in Jewish history gaze at old family portraits, they usually see men in dark suits wearing hats, some sporting a short or a long beard, and women in modest dresses, some with their hair covered. On the strength of their ancestors’ old-fashioned appearance, and unaware that this was the dress code in former generations for Jews and non-Jews alike, these non-observant Jews conclude that their forefathers were observant, and that the Haredi debater has made a valid point. This, however, is not the case.

Up until the late Middle Ages in the seventeenth century, all Jews were obliged to belong to the local Jewish community and to obey its regulations. Most Jewish communities in Europe had the authority to enforce religious norms on members who contravened the halakha, especially if they did so in public. Consequently, regardless of their inner beliefs, the fear of punishment, in the form of a fine, social restrictions, imprisonment, and even excommunication, made most Jews toe the line of religious norms and follow the lifestyle that was acceptable to the community. As the Middle Ages came to an end, so did the power of all religious communities, including the Jewish ones, to administer religious norms.16

Since the community could no longer enforce a religious way of life, and in the wake of social trends such as the Enlightenment movement, a growing number of Jews became less observant, first in the seclusion of their homes and subsequently in public. This gave rise to what became known as the secularization process, which commenced in the eighteenth century and has continued to this day. Some of the Jews who no longer wished to observe the halakha joined the Reform movement, which abandoned most halakhic rulings, replacing them with moral values and with a religious lifestyle that resembled that of the gentiles. Orthodox Judaism evolved in reaction to both the secularization process and the Reform movement and sought to maintain the traditional, namely observant, Jewish lifestyle.17

No reliable statistics are available to help evaluate the extent of Jewish secularization during the two centuries up to the Holocaust. We have evidence, however, that during the eighteenth century, dozens of non-observant and even defiantly atheist Jews did not hesitate to air their views in public.18 One can furthermore reliably estimate that by the mid-nineteenth century, there were more non-observant than observant Jews living in central European countries such as Germany and Hungary. By the end of the century, the process of secularization and the abandonment of religious norms had taken hold in the Russian Empire, in which most of world Jewry lived, as well as in Austro-Hungary, which was the second-largest Jewish diaspora.19

Around the turn of the twentieth century, as ever more Jews joined either the Zionist movement or political parties, in which their numbers could be more accurately estimated, it was clear that observant Jews in Europe constituted between a third and a quarter of all Jews. Generally speaking, the proportion of observant Jews was lower in western and central Europe and somewhat higher in the eastern countries. In the United States, the proportion of truly observant Jews was even lower than in Western Europe.20 The situation was even direr in the Soviet Union, where the government repressed almost all manifestations of the Jewish religion as part of its anti-religious socialist policy.21

In the 1930s, as a growing number of Jews sought to leave Europe and as restrictions on immigration to the United States were imposed, some Jews opted to settle in Palestine. To do so, they required a certificate issued by the British authorities and distributed by the Jewish Agency. Based on their proportion within the Jewish community, observant Jews who belonged either to Ha-Mizrahi or Agudath Israel were allocated between 15 and 20 percent of these certificates. Even in Poland, the world’s largest concentration of observant Jews, only some 30 percent of the Jews consumed strictly kosher meat.22 The same proportion was reflected in the first elections to the Israeli Knesset, in which the United Religious Party, an amalgamation of the four major religious political parties, gained some 15 percent of the Jewish vote. Even if some observant Jews voted for non-religious parties, the proportion of observant Jews did not exceed 20 percent.

Since the share of observant Jews in most Jewish communities before the Holocaust, including the millions who lived in the USSR and the United States, was less than one-fifth, we may conclude that observant Jews constituted not only a small minority in the State of Israel, which was established some 70 years ago but also among Jews worldwide over the past two centuries. Consequently, it is not the Orthodox but the non-observant Jews who perpetuate the major trend among world Jewry over the past two or three centuries, and they are the ones who should be considered “the true keepers of the Jewish legacy of past generations.”

2. The Virtue of Talmud Torah

In 1953, the various streams of the Jewish educational systems established during Mandatory Palestine were united under a single national system. It was divided into a religious and a secular-national wing, both fully subsidized by the government as stipulated in the Compulsory Education Law. Agudath Israel, the Haredi movement, decided to establish its own separate educational system known as the Independent Education (hinukh atzma’i), which was only partially supported by the government. The Haredi system, for both boys and girls, focused on religious studies, while general studies were by and large neglected. The system’s declared purpose was to produce a generation of Torah scholars to replace that which had been murdered in the Holocaust and educate the girls destined to marry them and establish further Haredi generations.

To this end, almost all Haredi boys were initially educated in a Talmud Torah, a religious institution equivalent to a primary school, and were then sent to a yeshiva, where most of their time was devoted to the study of the Talmud. After their marriage, generally at the age of 17 to 20, the grooms were encouraged to continue their studies in higher rabbinical institutions of learning known as kollels. While a growing number of Haredi men would spend most of their time studying the Talmud, for which they received a very modest stipend, the women became the Haredi family’s primary breadwinner. The men who could not rely on their wives’ support and needed to go to work would, if they could afford it, spend an hour or two in the local synagogue or beis midrash, studying the Talmud or other holy texts with the local rabbi. Consequently, a few decades after the founding of the state, Israel’s post-Holocaust Haredi society became, as sociologist Menachem Friedman defined it, “a learning men’s society.” This entire restructuring was heralded as the resurrection of old-time glory (le-hahzir atara le-yoshna).23

Here too, history tells a totally different story. In central and eastern Europe, where most of the Orthodox Jews lived, children’s education was not compulsory up until the interwar period. Regardless, most Jewish boys and girls learned how to read and write Hebrew in order to understand the texts of the Torah and the holy prayer books. This period of study, for which the parents, or in some cases the community, had to pay tuition fees, lasted several years. Since most Jewish families were poor, often only the firstborn sons or the most talented went on to study in a yeshiva. All the other children assisted their parents to provide for the family.

Sending a teenage boy to study in a yeshiva incurred not only the expense of covering travel, accommodation, and tuition but also deprived the family of his labor. Moreover, since most yeshivas were not officially recognized as high schools, they received no government funding and had to survive on a minimal budget and donations. Consequently, most local yeshivas catered only to a few dozen students, while the largest had several hundred students at most. In the Russian Empire, home to the majority of the Jewish people up until World war I, some 50 yeshivas functioned, in which around 5,000 students studied. These numbers did not change significantly during the interwar period.24

In Greater Hungary prior to World War I, and in the Hungarian-speaking territories of the interwar period, which constituted the second-largest concentration of Eastern European Jewry, some 200 yeshivas, which were supported by the local Orthodox communities, catered to less than 10,000 students. The number of yeshivas in the other major Jewish areas of settlement, such as Galicia, Germany, and the United States, was small, and they accommodated no more than 5,000 students.25

Assuming that one-quarter of the roughly ten million Jews who lived in central and eastern Europe were Orthodox, this means that a population of 2.5 million observant Jews produced no more than 20,000 yeshiva students, namely less than one percent. One to two percent of this number is of married men who undertook further yeshiva studies and did not support their families.

In contemporary Israel, an even smaller number of observant Jews, both religious and Haredi, produces more than 150,000 yeshiva students per year, namely seven times the number in former times. In fact, some of the largest yeshivas in Israel, such as Ponevezh, Mir, and Hebron (formerly Slobodka), each with several thousand students, have more than ten times the number of students they used to accommodate in Europe.26

Consequently, while in pre-Holocaust Europe, only the most ambitious and talented students entered the yeshivas, in Israel, they accept virtually all the children from observant families. Moreover, contrary to claims about the restoration of past glory, the almost 80,000 married men who now study in the kollels constitute a totally new phenomenon.27 In the past, the number of married yeshiva students was negligible, and the community generally viewed them as eccentrics and would at times refer to them by pejorative nicknames such as “bums” (batlanim) or “reclusive” (perushim).28 Here too, channeling all Haredi students to the yeshivas and denying them a general education that would better prepare them for life is justified by invoking a glorious past that never really existed.

3. The Ban on General Studies in the Haredi Education System

One of the major controversies between the Haredim and the rest of the Israeli society revolves around their refusal to expose their children to general education, namely, to comply with the minimal curriculum set by the government, also known as LIBA (– a Hebrew acronym for the national education system’s basic studies program). Haredi leaders justify their refusal by claiming that general studies were never an integral part of the traditional education system and that the great Torah sages have consistently opposed such studies. Moreover, they argue, everything a man needs to know is already written in the Torah (namely the Talmud), so there is no need for further studies besides them.29

This claim, which rests upon historical allegations, is false. Looking at distant history, one realizes that some of the Talmudic sages relied on “foreign wisdoms,” namely natural science, when referring to certain halakhic questions. Moreover, honored rabbis in subsequent generations, Maimonides being the most renowned of them, openly supported general studies, particularly natural sciences, to affirm one’s belief in God and have a better understanding of religious and halakhic questions.30 Indeed, throughout the middle ages, the only limitation of Jews to expand their knowledge was not the rabbis’ objection but the high cost of private education and the fact that only a handful of institutions admitted Jewish students.

During the early modern period of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, more institutions, including state-funded schools, accepted Jewish students. Yet, because almost all Jewish boys and some of the girls were sent to the traditional Jewish education system and because education was not compulsory and costly, only a handful of Jewish children, particularly those belonging to upper-class urban families, were sent to schools which taught general studies.31

This situation changed by the second half of the nineteenth century when Europe’s monarchs sought to make Jews not only more productive citizens but also more acculturated and integrated with the general society’s culture and values. To that end, they declared that all the schools would admit Jewish children and offered them special classes of religious Jewish studies. Moreover, they were willing to establish state-sponsored Jewish schools that would be run by the Jewish community or approve private Jewish schools. While the rabbis were reluctant to condemn the state schools, they generally objected to the Jewish ones.32

All these schools, in which the attendance was relatively low, offered a substantial curriculum of general studies. Although there is no credible way to estimate how many strictly Orthodox students studied in such Jewish and non-Jewish schools, it is clear that only a handful of rabbis expressed objection to such studies.33 For example, in 1857, in Warsaw, were the city’s 41,000 Jews consisted 26 percent of the population, only six of the city’s 119 schools were Jewish (5 percent). Various sources indicate that most of the city’s Jew were observant Hasidim. Yet, these figures suggest that on top of sending their sons to the heder, most Jewish parents also sent them to general schools.34

By the late nineteenth century, more Jewish parents, Orthodox and non-Orthodox alike, sought to give their children a broader general education as this was the only means for them to have a decent living in the new and modern world.35 Consequently, even some of the renowned yeshivas offered several weekly hours of general studies. Other major yeshivas turned a blind eye when their students expanded their general knowledge in other institutions.36 By the turn of the twentieth century, two new types of yeshivas offered either a broader curriculum of general studies or professional training, which also involved general studies.37 In addition, the authorities of the Russian Empire, home to the world’s largest Jewry, persuaded the Jewish communities to establish their own schools in which general studies were taught.38 Consequently, by 1910, the Russian Empire had some 7,700 traditional heders and some 920 Jewish schools. Although Jews were merely 4 percent of the general population, they consisted of some 11 percent of the university students, attesting to their broader exposure to general studies. In this case too, there is no way to determine how many of these students were Orthodox.39

This question gets an answer only following World War I when all central and east European countries enacted some sort of Compulsory Education laws. During that period, most Orthodox Jews lived in the newly established Second Polish Republic, while some of the former Russian Empire Jews remained in the USSR, which limited all religious activity, including that of the traditional education system, which almost disappeared. Since 1919, Poland had a Compulsory Education law for all children aged 7-14, and all the schools had to offer a curriculum of general studies. Most Jewish parents did send their children to the heder or Talmud Torah for a few years, but at the same time, some 80 percent of them preferred sending them to state schools.40

Agudath Israel was established in 1912. It began its activity in Poland in 1916 and established not only a major political force but also its own education system for boys and for girls. All Jewish schools enjoyed some degree of autonomy yet were supervised by the government and were required to meet the official curriculum of general studies. Throughout the interwar period, Agudath Israel had the largest Jewish education system in all of Poland, and even in the late 1930s, it catered to over half of the students who attended Jewish schools. At that time, it had some 500 schools and yeshivas for boys with over 65,000 students.41 Moreover, even Agudath Israel’s top yeshiva, the Mesivta in Warsaw, which sought to be considered a formal academic institution, offered two daily hours of general studies.42

The early Ashkenazi education system in Eretz Israel was that of the Old Yishuv, which taught only religious studies. Some of the more modern parents took private teachers for their children in order to broaden their knowledge to other topics as well.

In Mandatory Palestine, the non-Zionist Haredim sought to establish themselves as a separate religious group. Among other things, this was manifested by issuing a ban on general studies.43 Since the 1930s, however, a growing number of Polish and German Haredim came to Israel. They rejected the separatist worldview of the Old Yishuv and settled in towns outside of Jerusalem. They sought to give their children a more balanced education and established religious schools which resembled those operating in Germany and Poland in which general studies were compulsory. The most renowned of these schools were Tel Aviv’s Yesodei Torah and Jerusalem’s Horev, while similar schools were established in other places. These schools took great pride informing the parents that the level of general studies they taught was the same if not better than that in the non-Haredi schools.

It was only in the 1970s onwards, as the Haredi society sought to further distance itself from the rest of the non-Haredi society, that a growing number of Haredi schools offered fewer hours of general studies. The parents, who were themselves turning into what was later known as “a learning men’s society,” were willing to accept these educational norms believing that this will prevent their children from going astray.

4. Haredi Lifestyle in Tel Aviv in the 1950s and 60s

Since the 1970s, most Haredi families chose to live in urban areas densely populated by other Haredi people. This trend began in the Haredi neighborhoods of the Old Yishuv in Jerusalem, continued to Bnei Brak near Tel Aviv, in which the Haredim became a majority in the 1980s, and continued in other predominantly towns and neighborhoods which were established in the coming decades. Haredi spokespersons insist that “true Torah Jews” have always preferred to live separately away from areas in which Jews led an overtly secular lifestyle, such as those living in Tel Aviv.

Tel Aviv is considered Israel’s most secular and even anti-religious city, as well as the state’s “gay capital.” Consequently, it is most unusual to come across a Haredi family living in Tel Aviv or a Haredi person who works alongside a non-Haredi in any of the city’s industries, offices, and public services. Apart from some very small Haredi pockets, the vast majority of the city’s residents are not observant. In the 2020 elections, only some 5 percent of the votes cast in Tel Aviv went to Haredi parties, 80 percent of them voted to Shas – the Sephardic Haredi party, which is supported predominantly by traditional Sephardic Jews, many of whom are not fully observant. In the eyes of contemporary Haredi society Tel Aviv is, and always was, a center of promiscuity and heresy and serves as a constant reminder of why Haredim require their own towns and neighborhoods.44

This description, however, is far from the historical truth. Throughout the late mandate period and until the mid-1970s, Tel Aviv contained Israel’s second-largest Haredi community after Jerusalem. Subsequently, as the expanding Bnei Brak pushed it back into third place, the size of Tel Aviv’s Haredi population remained almost unchanged until the 1980s, after which it began to drop. During this period of half a century, Tel Aviv’s Haredi lifestyle closely resembled that of eastern Europe’s large pre-war cities, such as Warsaw, Budapest, Frankfurt, Prague, and Vilnius, from which many of Israel’s Haredi population hailed.

Tel Aviv was established in 1909, first as a remote neighborhood of Jaffa and then as an exclusively Jewish town. Observant Jews lived in Jaffa for many generations, but the first large wave of Haredim to settle in Tel Aviv came in the late 1920s and early 1930s, following an upsurge of antisemitism and anti-Jewish legislation in Poland and Hitler’s rise to power in Germany. Most of the Haredi newcomers maintained the lifestyle to which they were accustomed. They chose to live in a large city, close to a cultural center that provided access to a good educational system, and they provided for themselves rather than relying on donations, as was customary in the Old Yishuv of Jerusalem.

These Haredi Jews were accustomed to living among gentiles and non-observant Jews and spoke the local language, be it Polish, German, or Russian. They dressed much like their neighbors, gentiles, and non-observant Jews alike. They were happy to work alongside other people, were involved in local political life, read the local Jewish and non-Jewish newspapers, and attended the local theater, cinema, and concert hall. On top of providing them with traditional Jewish education, they used to send their children to municipal schools where they received general education along with other gentile and non-observant children. It is therefore not surprising that many of these immigrants chose to settle in Tel Aviv, which was the bustling economic and cultural center of Palestine’s Jewish population.

The religious infrastructure they established, which included synagogues, mikvas (ritual baths), yeshivas, religious schools for boys and girls, a kosher food supply, and local rabbis who would respond to halakhic questions, attracted many Haredi Holocaust survivors who arrived in the 1940s and 1950s. An exceptional addition to Tel Aviv’s Haredi community was the settlement of some two dozen Hasidic rebbes who survived the Holocaust. Rather than settling in Jerusalem, the holy city, they chose Tel Aviv, the Hebrew city. They soon established their own Hasidic communities and resumed the familiar patterns of eastern European Hasidic courts. For a decade or two, Tel Aviv hosted Israel’s largest Hasidic courts, such as Gur, Belz, Vizhnitz, and Sadigura, as well as several smaller Hasidic groups. Tel Aviv’s Haredi society was spread all over the city, and for several decades, the city’s council and its Haredi deputy mayor established numerous religious institutions to address the needs of the city’s growing Haredi community.45

Following the election of former general Shlomo Lahat as mayor in the mid-1970s, Tel Aviv fostered an overtly secular lifestyle, and the needs of the Haredi community were neglected. At the same time, Bnei Brak’s Haredi population reached a point at which its municipal representatives were able to turn it into a totally Haredi city. As a result, Tel Aviv’s Haredi population began to move to Bnei Brak and to other Haredi centers, and today, apart from a couple of small secluded neighborhoods, one can find almost no trace of Tel Aviv’s Haredi or Hasidic past.

For the purpose of establishing a beneficial Haredi narrative, ignoring Tel Aviv Haredi society’s history was a necessary step toward deliberately burying the memory of the pre-Holocaust Haredi lifestyle, which was far more tolerant of the non-Haredi and non-Jewish populations. This eased the introduction of an unprecedented Haredi lifestyle that promoted almost total social and cultural seclusion from Israel’s non-Haredi population.

5. Haredi Soldiers in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF)

The Haredi spokespersons who argue that Haredi men should not serve in the Israeli army because this would endanger their religious identity ignore a simple fact. For many years, the majority of Haredi men served in the Jewish defense forces, and the religious identity of most of them remained intact.46 Many Haredi men joined the quasi-military covert organizations during the Mandate period – the Hagana, Etzel, and Lechi –established in the 1930s and early 1940s. Following the United Nations’ ratification of the Palestine Partition Plan in November 1947, a better organized military force was established. In order to administer the recruitment of Haredi youngsters, the Haredi party Agudath Israel opened its own recruitment centers and supported the establishment of military units manned exclusively by observant soldiers. Consequently, Haredi soldiers who joined these units were able to maintain their religious lifestyle with minimal compromises.47

Moreover, since the battle for Jerusalem was one of the major focal points of the War of Independence and since many Haredi Jews lived in the city, Haredi youngsters joined the fighting forces that comprised primarily non-religious soldiers. The contribution of Haredi soldiers, both in the special religious and the regular units, was not confined to Jerusalem as they saw action on many fronts. One of the renowned Haredi soldiers of that period was Rabbi Avraham Ravitz, who initially joined the Lechi underground movement and later served in the Israeli army. He subsequently became one of the foremost Haredi Knesset members. Another good example is Rabbi Eliezer Hager, who served in the religious unit of the Hagana during the War of Independence and fought in several battles in Haifa and Acre. He was later ordained as the Admor, head of the Hasidic court of Seret-Viznitz in Haifa and led it for many decades.48

After the founding of the State of Israel a few hundred yeshiva students were exempted from military service, while most other Haredi youngsters were obliged to enlist. To shield them from “bad influences,” special units were formed by Po’alei Agudath Israel, the Haredi Labor party. The soldiers in these Nahal units (Nahal – a Hebrew acronym for Young Fighting Pioneers) received military training and then established agricultural settlements along Israel’s new borders. In the early 1960s, following a political controversy between the two Haredi parties, Po’alei Agudath Israel and Agudath Israel, the rabbi of the large Hasidic court of Viznitz and one of Agudath Israel’s leaders set up a new Nahal unit. Consequently, many Haredi soldiers fought in the 1967 Six-Days War, and the Haredi newspapers proudly reported on the contribution of the religious and Haredi soldiers to Israel’s outstanding victory. The former Haredi soldiers established their own synagogues and would assemble once or twice a year for a big celebration.49

In 1977, the Likud Party won the election, and Agudath Israel, the main Haredi party at the time, decided to join the coalition for the first time in 25 years. In return, it was granted substantial budgets that enabled it to establish far larger yeshivas, and the number of Haredi youngsters who were exempted from service began to rise. Two decades later, the social norm according to which no “real” Haredi man should join the army had taken hold among most Haredi communities. In order to further the claim that military service puts the Haredi soldier at great spiritual risk, the story of the thousands of Haredi soldiers, and even that of the Haredi fallen soldiers, was completely erased from Haredi collective memory.50

6. Reinventing Hasidism

Ever since the establishment of Hasidism, the community’s most prominent figure has been the rebbe, the Hasidic leader, who was also known as the Admor (a Hebrew acronym for: our master, teacher, and rabbi) or the tsadik (the pious one). On top of the qualities that all religious leaders required, the Hassidim believed that their rebbe possessed mystical capabilities. He could employ them to influence decisions made in Heaven in order to assist either his individual followers or his entire community. Consequently, the Hassidim would approach their rebbe with requests for a blessing for health, the wellbeing of their children, prosperity, amicable relations in the home, and so forth. In some cases, the rebbe, who received donations from the people who approached him, would also give charity to people in need.51

The Hasidic rebbes’ role of looking after his people changed dramatically after the Holocaust. While apparently maintaining the generations-old Hasidic tradition, their mission, and the skills they required to execute it, were totally different from those required of their predecessors. Although the surviving rebbes at first retained their historical roles and focused on counseling their followers and granting them various blessings, they soon realized that this was not sufficient. They learned that in order to re-establish their own Hasidic communities in the newly-born, war-stricken, and economically-challenged State of Israel, they would have to become both social and business entrepreneurs.

They began by raising money through donations and loans, which was used first to purchase land and then to build small neighborhoods. They then convinced leading Haredi businessmen to locate their factories nearby in order to assure their Hasidim steady employment. At the same time, they established their own educational system as well as a number of business enterprises run by the community under their control. This gave rise to an unprecedented form of Hasidic community in which the rebbe served not merely as the spiritual leader but also the landlord, the provider of employment, the education supervisor, and the owner of several monopolistic businesses. Moreover, unlike in the past when most of the Hasidim lived far away from their rebbe and only saw him once or twice a year, now the majority of the Hasidim lived next door to him and were totally subject to his religious, financial, and political decisions.52

Historically, Hasidism’s fast expansion despite significant opposition on the part of the non-Hasidic Jewish leaders, the Mithnagdim (the opponents), was due to the rebbes’ claim that unlike common thought, a Jew can excel in his religious duties even though he is not a great Talmudic scholar. Hassidic leaders asserted that all Jews can reach the Almighty simply by openly expressing themselves with joy, sadness, devotion, and other emotions. Consequently, prior to the Holocaust, the number of Hassidic yeshivas was relatively small and so was the number of Hassidic yeshiva students. In post-Holocaust Israel, however, Hasidic leaders who did not wish their Hasidim to be considered of lesser value than the non-Hasidim established their own yeshivas. Lacking enough experienced instructors, they employed many Lithuanian (Mithnagdim) rabbis as teachers of Talmud.

Despite the great differences between the pre-Holocaust and post-Holocaust structure of the Hasidic court, the Hasidic yeshiva, and the role of the Hasidic rebbe, Haredi spokesmen portray the contemporary Hasidic community as a direct continuation of the communities that lived in eastern Europe. This notion is fostered, among other things, by following the traditional naming method, whereby today’s Hasidic court is named after the place in which the rabbi used to live, for example, Sanz, Gur, Viznitz, Satmar and Belz, all names of eastern European shtetels. In some cases, contemporary Hasidic courts have adopted the names of eastern European shtetels even though no Hasidic court had ever operated in them.53

7. Ignoring Former Conflicts

Because only a handful of second or third-rank Hassidic leaders migrated from Eastern Europe prior to the Holocaust, it inflicted a devastating blow on Hasidic tradition.54 Only a handful of the prominent Hasidic leaders who made their name before the Holocaust survived it. Among them were the rebbes of Gur, Belz, Lubavitch, Satmar, and Viznitz. Consequently, most of the Hasidic courts established after the Holocaust were headed either by relatives of the former renounced Hasidic rebbes or by leaders of small Hasidic communities previously affiliated with more prominent rebbes.

Since the surviving Hasidic rebbes sought to re-establish their former courts, they all, without actually admitted it, resolved to set aside one of the most common characteristics of pre-war Hasidic life, namely its internal controversies. For example, the Satmar court, led by Rabbi Yoel Teitelbaum, was embroiled in numerous political and ideological disputes with other Hungarian Hasidic courts such a Munkacs, Spinka, Dej, and Sighet. However, since Rabbi Yoel was one of the few “old-time” rebbes to have survived the Holocaust, and since the court he established in New York became a major force in post-Holocaust Hungarian Hasidism, no one dared mention the old controversies. Moreover, the leaders of the courts that were once scorned and humiliated by Rabbi Yoel joined the Edah Haredit, Israel’s radical anti-Zionist Haredi organization which nominated him as its leader in the early 1950s, a position he held until his death in 1979.55

Similar controversies that were brushed aside after the Holocaust took place in Poland, between the two prominent Hasidic courts of Gur and Alexander; in Galicia, between Belz and Ruzhin; and in Czechoslovakia between Munkács and Belz.56 In all these cases, memoirs, yizkor (memorial) books and newspaper articles that were published after the Holocaust by Hasidic authors either refrain from mentioning these controversies or play down their magnitude.57

8. Downgrading the Social Role of Observant Women

Since the late eighteenth to early nineteenth centuries, many European rulers sought that Jewish children should be sent to school and acquire general knowledge and proficiency in the native languages. This, they hoped, would turn them into more loyal, acculturated, and productive citizens. Since Jewish boys were expected to focus on religious studies, particularly that of the Talmud, and since the girls were excluded from all advanced religious studies, community leaders encouraged parents to send the girls to school so as to demonstrate high attendance among the Jews. Since there were only a few Jewish educational systems for girls, most of them were sent to regular schools in which they encountered a variety of subjects such as sciences, languages, and humanities, as well as literature, art, and music.58

A few generations later, in the mid-nineteenth century, the girls of prosperous Orthodox families, especially those in the cities, would regularly visit a local museum, concert hall, or theater and read novels or play a musical instrument. This was true not only of middle-class girls but also of those born and raised in rabbinical and Hassidic families. In fact, a major section of the Jewish literature written in the nineteenth and early twentieth century was targeted at young women.59 By the turn of the century, a significant number of Jewish women, including the observant among them, were studying at various universities, where they specialized in science, medicine, and social studies or simply sought to broaden their knowledge. Less-educated women took an active role in providing for their families, working alongside their husbands, or running their own businesses.60 This openness toward women’s general and cultural education largely persisted even after the establishment of the Bais Ya’acov chain of schools for Haredi girls in eastern Europe during the interwar period.61

After the Holocaust, however, Haredi leaders in Israel concluded that the 200-year long tradition of educated Orthodox women no longer served the needs of the society they sought to establish. An early 1950s newspaper article titled “Back to the grandmothers” encapsulates their concepts.62 Our mothers, it claimed, had gone too far with their modern schooling and cultural interests, and you, namely the young generation of Haredi girls in Israel, should embrace the values of your grandmothers, who were uneducated and willingly accepted their rabbis’ and their husbands’ absolute authority without question.63

While this particular article did acknowledge that its proposals constituted a deviation from the past, most other Haredi spokespersons simply glossed over this fact. Instead, they simply claimed that Haredi girls had always been denied not only an advanced religious education but also a general one. They likewise forbade Haredi girls and women to read non-religious literature or visit a theater, a concert hall, or the cinema.

The public pressure that built up in support of this standpoint was so intense that even the thousands of Haredi women who had survived the Holocaust and knew firsthand how much more tolerant Haredi society had been in the past, failed to challenge the new narrative. While many of them continued to read novels, sneak out to the movies or the theater, or watch television concealed in a secret cabinet, their daughters were never aware that this was how strictly observant women used to behave before the Holocaust.64

9. Haredi Newspapers’ New Modesty Norms

In order to explicate why observant women should not be exposed to modern general education and to non-religious culture, the rabbis reintroduced the concept of women’s modesty and expanded it to cover many aspects it never included before. Women were taught that “All glorious is the princess within her chamber” (Psalm 45:13), which basically meant that the place of a good Jewish woman is at home. This trend was accompanied with strict dress code and the demand that married Orthodox women should always cover all their natural hair. The new modesty demands were justified by claiming that women are seductive in nature and that men, who were easily tempted, should be protected from them, especially in public. One form of such protection from women’s evil influence was the ban on presenting women’s pictures in Haredi newspapers.65

In 2015, a new government was formed in Israel that included three women. The Haredi press and its popular internet news sites carried a censored version of the official photograph of the new government taken at the president’s residence, in which the figures of the female ministers were digitally erased. This was picked up by the general press, which accused the Haredim of excluding women, a topic that had featured prominently in the contemporary public discourse.

The chief editor of one of the largest Haredi internet sites reacted by saying: “Be-Hadrei Haredim is the largest Haredi internet site in the world […] consequently it does not publish women’s pictures […] The Haredi press has and never will publish a picture of women.”66 This declaration sounded very credible to most of today’s Haredim, who were taught to believe that Haredi newspapers had always refrained from carrying any content related to women, let alone their images. This, however, was far from the truth.

Long before the first Jewish newspapers appeared, sacred Hebrew books published in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries contained a decorative cover page that sometimes featured illustrations of women and even partially naked ones. Such decorative pages appear in the Passover Haggadah, the Shulhan Arukh (the canonic corpus of halakhic laws), Maimonides’s Ha-yad ha-hazakah, and even in the Pentateuch. Later editions of these books retained the original cover page but erased the women’s images.67

The first Orthodox newspapers appeared in the mid-nineteenth century. Since it was expensive to produce the engraved block needed to print a picture, images of all sorts were only rarely included. Images would generally appear in the advertisement section, as the same block could be used for several issues or in more than one newspaper. Der Israelit was the first self-proclaimed Orthodox newspaper to publish an image of a woman in its advertisement section in April 1879. This was one of the foremost Orthodox newspapers that appeared from the 1860s up to the Holocaust and was owned by the leader of Agudath Israel, the international Haredi movement. Subsequently, women’s pictures found their way into this newspaper’s main columns, and at some point, illustrations of women’s figures were simply used to decorate the text and to separate the various sections.

By the early twentieth century, Haredi newspapers that appeared in Palestine also began to carry series of advertisements that featured women’s images. This trend became more marked during the interwar period, when numerous Orthodox newspapers, some of which were published by Agudath Israel’s official branches and published articles by Eastern Europe’s most renowned rabbis, carried both photographs and illustrations of women. The leading Haredi newspapers in Israel continued to publish pictures of women up until the early 1980s. Only then, when the major Haredi newspapers began producing separate women’s supplements, where the pictures and illustrations of women moved to these sections.68

10. Concealing the “Zionist” Past of Haredi Rabbis

Although Haredi leaders strongly shunned the Zionist movement’s ideology, they rarely banned specific Zionist rabbis, particularly if they were known as great Torah scholars. This type of radical behavior characterized only Jerusalem’s Old Yishuv zealots. Moreover, during Mandatory Palestine and in Israel’s early decades, jobs fitted for rabbis were scarce. Consequently, many Haredi rabbis took positions offered by the Zionist authorities both in its education system and in the various religious services it provided.

In the 1970s and 1980s, as the number of Haredi institutions grew, the Haredi society disapproved of those rabbis who still continued to work for the state’s “Zionist” organizations. Moreover, when some of these rabbis eventually attained leadership positions, Haredi biographers and spokesperson sought to conceal their “Zionist” past. For example, one of the most prominent rabbis in the early 20th century Palestine was Rabbi Avraham Yitzhak Ha-Kohen Kook, who was first the rabbi of Jaffa and later nominated as Palestine’s chief Ashkenazi rabbi and the rabbi of Jerusalem. He was known as an extraordinary Talmudic scholar but also as a supporter of Zionism.

This, however, did not deter non-Zionist rabbis from meeting him and speaking highly of him. Among those who did so were Rabbi Avraham Mordekhai Alter, the Gerer Rebbe; Rabbi Reuven Zelig Bengis of the Old Yishuv’s Edah Haredit; Rabbi Issar Zalman Meltzer, head of the Etz Haim Yeshiva, the largest yeshiva of Jerusalem; and Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, another prominent head of a yeshiva. In later years, the reports of these warm relationships were either deleted or whitewashed from their biographies.69

Haredi historians and spokespersons also hid the fact that rabbis who later became prominent Haredi leaders were employed in “Zionist” or “modern” institutions. Rabbi Elazar Menachem Mann Shakh, the most prominent and influential rabbi in post-Holocaust Israel, taught in Tel Aviv’s New Yishuv’s yeshiva, which was considered both “modern” and Zionist. Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, who succeeded him as the top Haredi authority, was for many years employed as a religious judge in Israel’s “Zionist” official rabbinical court system. Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, the founder of Israel’s Haredi-Sephardi movement, Shas, and its top religious leader, served both in Israel’s rabbinical court system, as chief rabbi of Tel Aviv, and as Israel’s chief Sephardi rabbi prior to being regarded as a “true” Haredi rabbi.

Countless other Haredi rabbis were also employed in official positions both as city and neighborhood rabbis, in municipal religious councils, and in the national rabbinical court system. Many others were employed as teachers of Torah and Talmud in the national religious-Zionist education system or as rabbis serving in Israel’s army, police forces, or hospitals. Their biographies, however, sought to either conceal or justify the fact that they were employed by these “Zionist” bodies.70


This article demonstrates how the leaders of Haredi Judaism in Israel invented a more convenient past by altering or concealing historical facts. It focused on examples that were the most pertinent to the new “engineered” Haredi society. These included the enormous virtue conferred on the study of the Talmud and the lesser value of general education; confining the public and private status of Haredi women; imposing social, cultural, and geographical separation from the non-Haredi society; and introducing new forms of Hasidism and a new breed of Hasidic leaders.

The examples cited here are not the only ones. Among the topics we have not addressed are the following: the standardization of the Haredi dress code for both men and women; the largely unprecedented modesty (tsniut) standards, such as separation between men and women in the streets and on the public transportation system; the establishment of charities that cater to all Israelis, Jews and non-Jews alike; the movements aimed at persuading Jews to repent and become observant (hazara be-teshuva organizations); the ban on “unauthorized” children’s literature alongside an array of “approved” books, periodicals, and films aimed at Haredi children and families; the integration of Sephardic Jews in the Ashkenazi Haredi society; and the introduction of specially adapted technological devices and services, such as CDs rather than movies and television, MP3 devices instead of radio, supervised internet services, and “kosher” mobile phones.

In order to set these new religious norms, the Orthodox leaders needed to act on four fronts. First, to constantly recap the grave danger which threatened the existence of the Haredi society following the Holocaust and the establishment of Israel as a secular Jewish state. To that end, they portrayed non-Haredi society as morally corrupt and separated from its glorious religious past. Second, to invent and promote a religious lifestyle that will save the Haredi society from this spiritually dangerous situation by separating, geographically, culturally, religiously, and politically between the Haredi and the non-Haredi societies. To achieve this goal, they amplified the social and historical differences that divide Haredi and non-Haredi society. Third, they supported initiatives that offered Haredi consumers alternative products and services adapted specially for them, thereby relieving them of the need to acquire or to consume them in a non-Haredi fashion.

The fourth and most important strategy was the use of emotionally driven Post-Truth Politics. It included the introduction of invented traditions in order to convince the Haredi masses to follow the new and stricter religious norms by presenting them as proven past policies. This was facilitated by the fact that World War II and its outcomes created an information gap between the pre-war Orthodox lifestyle and what the survivors nostalgically believed, or were encouraged to believe, was the reality. The Haredi leaders also harnessed the emotions associated with the Holocaust, particularly the longing for the good old Jewish world that ceased to exist. The flourishing of contemporary Haredi society in Israel proves that invented traditions and post-truth politics are effective tools for such social construction.

* * *


1 Over the last two to three centuries, Sephardic Jews comprised less than ten percent of the overall Jewish population. Since they remained in their own geographical areas, they had very little influence on the rest of the Jewish world.

2 Eric Hobsbawm and Terence Ranger (eds.), The Invention of Tradition (New York 1983): 1-7.

3 Haym Soloveitchik, “Rupture and reconstruction: the transformation of contemporary Orthodoxy,” Tradition, 28,4 (1994): 64-130; Samuel C. Heilman, Sliding to the Right: The Contest for the Future of American Jewish Orthodoxy (Berkeley‎ 2006‎); Benjamin Brown, “Jewish political theology: the doctrine of ‘Da’at Torah’ as a case study,” Harvard Theological Review, 107, 3 (2014): 255-289.

4 Marc B. Shapiro, Changing the Immutable: How Orthodox Judaism Rewrites its History (Portland, OR 2014); Ada Rapoport-Albert, “Hagiography with footnotes: edifying tales and the writing of history in Hasidism”, in Essays in Jewish Historiography, ed. Idem. (Atlanta 1988): 119-159; Ira Robinson, “Hasidic hagiography and Jewish modernity,” in Jewish History and Jewish Memory, eds. Elishava Carlebach, John M. Efron and David N. Myers (Hanover, NH 1998): 405-412.

5 Shmuel Feiner, The Jewish Enlightenment (Philadelphia‎ 2004).‎

6 Adam S. Ferziger, Exclusion and Hierarchy: Orthodoxy, Nonobservance, and the Emergence of Modern Jewish Identity (Philadelphia 2005).‎

7 Arthur Hertzberg, “‘Treifene Medina’: Learned Opposition to Emigration to the U.S.,” World Congress of Jewish Studies, 8, Panel Sessions: Jewish History (1981): 1-30.

8 Marcin Wodziński, Haskalah and Hasidism in the Kingdom of Poland: A History of Conflict (Oxford 2005).‎

9 Allison Schachter, Diasporic Modernisms: Hebrew and Yiddish Literature in the Twentieth Century (New York‎ 2012).‎

10 Edward Madigan, Gideon Reuveni (eds.), The Jewish Experience of the First World War (London 2018).‎

11 Menachem Friedman, Society in a Crisis of Legitimization, the Ashkenazi Old Yishuv 1900-1917 (Jerusalem 2001, in Hebrew).

12 Michal Shaul, Beauty for Ashes: Holocaust Memory and the Rehabilitation of Ashkenazi Haredi Society in Israel, 1945-1961 (Jerusalem 2014, in Hebrew).

13 Jennifer Lassley, “A Defective Covenant: Abandonment of Faith among Jewish Survivors of the Holocaust,” International Social Science Review, 90, 3 (2015): 1-17.

14 Daniel Mann (ed.), Living the Halachic Process: Questions and Answers for the Modern Jew, Including an Overview of the History and Process of Halacha (Jerusalem 2007). On a less popular halakhic outlook that prefers the rulings of the latter sages, see: Akavia S. Wosner, “Hilcheta ke-batray — A New Perspective,” Shenaton Ha-Mishpat Ha-Ivri: Annual of the Institute for Research in Jewish Law, 20 (1997): 151-167 (in Hebrew).

15 Haym Soloveitchik, “Rupture and reconstruction: the transformation of contemporary Orthodoxy,” Tradition, 28, 4 (1994): 64-130; Samuel C. Heilman, Sliding to the Right: The Contest for the Future of American Jewish Orthodoxy (Berkeley‎ 2006‎); Benjamin Brown, “Jewish political theology: the doctrine of “Da’at Torah” as a case study,” Harvard Theological Review, 107, 3 (2014): 255-289.

16 Daniel J. Elazar (ed.), Authority, Power and Leadership in the Jewish Polity (Lanham, MD 1991).

17 Jacob Katz, Out of the Ghetto: The Social Background of Jewish Emancipation, 1770-1870 (Cambridge 1973); Moshe Samet, “The beginnings of Orthodoxy,” Modern Judaism, 8,3 (1988): 249-269.

18 Shmuel Feiner, The Origins of Jewish Secularization in eighteenth-century Europe (Philadelphia 2010).

19 Ferziger, Exclusion and Hierarchy, 5-7, 36; Menachem Keren-Kratz, “The decline of Jewish Orthodoxy at the turn of the 20th century as viewed through Galicia’s ultra-Orthodox newspapers,” Kesher, 49 (2017): 126-142 (in Hebrew).

20 Jeffrey S. Gurock, Orthodox Jews in America (Bloomington 2009); Menachem Keren-Kratz, “The Haredization of American Orthodoxy in the Early Twentieth Century,” Tradition, 54 (2021) (forthcoming).

21 Gershon Swet, “Jewish religion in Soviet Russia,” in: Gregor Aronson (ed.), Russian Jewry 1917-1967, (New York, 1969): 209-222.

22 Yossef Fund, Religious Proletarians Unite!: Poalei Agudat Israel – Ideology and Policy (Jerusalem 2018): 176-178 (in Hebrew); Asaf Kaniel, “Secular, Traditional and Orthodox: Religious Observance in the face of Legislation against Kosher Slaughtering,” Gal Ed, 22 (2010): 75 – 106 (in Hebrew).

23 Menachem Friedman, “ʽAbout miracles’: the flourishing of the ʽTorah World’ of Yeshivot and Kollelim in Israel,” in: Handbook of Israel: Major Debates, Eliezer Ben-Rafael, Julius H. Schoeps, Yitzhak Sternberg and Olaf Glöckner (eds.), Vol. 1 (Berlin 2016): 232-244.

24 Ben-Tsiyon Klibansky, The Golden Age of the Lithuanian Yeshivot in Eastern Europe (Jerusalem 2014, in Hebrew): 74, 432; Shaul Stampfer, Lithuanian Yeshivas of the Nineteenth Century: Creating a Tradition of Learning (Oxford‎ 2012).‎

25 Avraham Fuchs, Yeshivot Hungaria be-Gedulatan u-Behurbanan, Vols. 1-2 (Jerusalem 1978-1987, in Hebrew).

26 Gilead Malach and Lee Cahaner, The Yearbook of Ultra-Orthodox Society in Israel 2018 (Jerusalem 2019, in Hebrew): 31.

27 Ibid., 32; Daniel Schiffman, “the ‘Kollel’ movement in the State of Israel: a pedagogic and ideological typology,” Israel Studies Review, 29,1 (2014): 106-128.

28 Ben-Zion Fischler, “Ten batlanim (ten men of leisure),” Jews and Slavs, 9 (2001): 178-184.

29 Yoel Finkelman, “Ultra-Orthodox/Haredi education,” Helena Miller, Lisa D. Grant and Alex Pomson (eds.) International Handbook of Jewish Education, vol. 2 (Dordrecht 2011): 1063-1080.

30 Gad Freudenthal, “Maimonides’ philosophy of science,” Kenneth Seeskin (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Maimonides (Cambridge 2005): 134-166; Isadore Twersky, “Aspects of Maimonides’ epistemology: Halakah and science,” Jacob Neusner, Ernest S. Frerichs, Nahum M. Sarna (eds.), From Ancient Israel to Modern Judaism; Intellect in Quest of Understanding, vol. 3 (Atlanta 1989): 3-23.

31 Maoz Kahana, A Heartless Chicken: Religion and Science in Early Modern Rabbinic Culture (Jerusalem: 2021, in Hebrew).

32 Zevi Scharfstein, History of Jewish Education in Modern Times, vol. 1 (New York 1948, in Hebrew): 249.

33 Ibid.: 245-246.

34 Ibid.: 311.

35 Ibid.: 334-335; Shaul Stampfer, The Lithuanian Yeshiva (Jerusalem 2005, in Hebrew): 22, 80-81, 106-108, 176-181, 216-225, 284-287.

36 Scharfstein, History of Jewish Education, vol. 1, 333-334.

37 Ibid.: 360-363.

38 Ibid.: 363-367.

39 Ibid.: 394-395.

40 General Encyclopedia in Yiddish, vol g, (New York 1948): 378-379; Shmuel Rosenhak, “Al Ma’arekhet Ha-Hinukh Ha-Yehudi Be-Polin Bein Shtei Milhamot Olam,” in: Israel Heilperin, Beit Israel Be-Polin: Mi-Yamim Rishonim Ve-Ad Le-Yemot Ha-Hurban, Vol. 2, (Jerusalem 1948): 142-155 153.

41 Ibid.: 154.

42 Avraham Zemba, “Metivta Be-Varsha,” In: Shemuel kalman Mirski, Mosdot Torah Be-Eiroph Be-Binyanam Ube-Hurbanam (New York 1956): 363-380.

43 Menachem Keren-Kratz, “The rise of the Hungarian leadership of the Old Yishuv in Jerusalem during the Mandate Period,” Moresht Israel, 17 (2019): 107-156 (Hebrew).

44 Defusei ha-hatsba’a shel toshvei tel-aviv yafo ba-behirot la-kneset ha-23 (Tel Aviv 2020, in Hebrew). (Https://

45 Avraham Hanokh Abramowitz, Ish Hai Rav Pealim (Jerusalem 2011, in Hebrew); Michal Glatter, Sacred and Mundane: Hasidic Courts in Tel-Aviv 1940-1965, PhD dissertation, Bar-Ilan University, 2019; Menachem Keren-Kratz, “Tel Aviv’s not-no-so-black hats,” Segula, 56 (2021, English edition): 58-69.

46 Ehud Shpigel, “Ha-Haredim, ‘Ha-Am’ Ve-‘Zeva Ha-Am’: Hasiah Al Gius Ha-Haredim La-Tzava Ke-Bitui Le-Ma’avak Al Shimur Ha-Zehut Ha-Kolektivit Be-Israel,” Politika, 16 (2007): 67-91.

47 Moshe Ehrenvald, “…Ha-hitngdut be-Agudat Israel la-Etzel ve-Lalehi u-lepeuloteihen, ve-hakeriot le-hahramatan… hayu be-setira la-ahada she-sarera be-kerev ha-tzibur ha-haredi…”, Ha-Umah, 198, (2015): 43-54.

48 Moshe Ehrenvald, The Haredim During the Independence War (Ben Shemen 2017, in Hebrew).

49 Yair Ha-Levi, Teguvot Ha-Zerem Ha-Haredi Ha-Merkazi Le-Milhemet Sheshet Ha-Yamim, MA thesis, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 2011; Menachem Keren-Kratz, “‘Al ken ein zot milhemet reshut’ milhemet sheshet ha-yamim be-eiynaim harediot,” Et-Mol, 250 (2017): 9-12 (in Hebrew); Idem., “Ha-Hayalim Shel ha-Rabi Me-Viznitz: Toldot Ha-Nahal Ha-Haredi, Et-Mol, 255 (2018): 27-30 (in Hebrew).

50 Nurit Stadler and Eyal Ben-Ari, “Other-worldly soldiers?: Ultra-Orthodox views of military service in contemporary Israel,” Israel Affairs, 9,4 (2003): 17-48; Dan Soen, “Military service in Israel – should I join or not?: Cognitive and motivational aspects – the case study of Haredi enlistment in Israel,” Australian Journal of Jewish Studies, 29 (2015-2016): 112-135.

51 Arthur Green, “Typologies of leadership and the hassidic zaddiq,” Jewish Spirituality, Vol. II: From the Sixteenth-Century Revival to the Present, Arthur Green (ed.) (New York 1987): 127-156.

52 Although scholars reviewed these phenomena with respect to the revival of Hasidism in America, there is yet no a parallel study of the post-Holocaust Hasidic community in Israel. Israel Rubin, Satmar: An Island in the City (Chicago‎ 1972);‎ George Kranzler, Hasidic Wlliamsburg: A Contemporary American Hasidic Community (Northvale, NJ‎ 1995);‎ Jerome R. Mintz, Hasidic People:A Place in the New World (Cambridge‎ 1992).‎

53 Samuel C. Heilman, “What’s in a name?: The dilemma of title and geography for contemporary Hasidism,” Jewish History, 27,2-4 (2013): 221-240.

54 Tzvi Rabinowicz, Hasidism in Israel: A History of the Hasidic Movement and its Masters in the Holy Land (Jerusalem 2000)‎; Marcin Wodzinski, Historical Atlas of Hasidism (Princeton, NJ 2018).

55 Menachem Keren-Kratz, “Is the Jewish State the ultimate evil or a golden opportunity?: Ideology vs. politics in the teachings and actions of Rabbi Yoel Teitelbaum – the Satmar Rebbe,” Jewish Political Studies Review, 29,1-2 (2018): 5-26.

56 Dafna Schreiber, “The dispute between Gur and Alexander and its impact on Polish Hasidism in the first half of the twentieth century,” Zion 79 (2014): 175-199 (Hebrew); David Assaf, Beguiled by Knowledge: An Anatomy of a Hasidic Controversy (Haifa 2012); Uriel Gellman and Menachem Keren-Kratz, “The Battle Over Hasidic Radicalism: The Belz–Munkács Controversy,” Jewish Studies Quarterly (2022) (forthcoming).

57 Ira Robinson, “Hasidic hagiography and Jewish modernity,” in: Jewish History and Jewish Memory: Essays in Honor of Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi, Elisheva Carlebach, John M. Efron, and David N. Myers (eds.) (Hanover 1998): 405-412.

58 Deborah Weissman, “Bais Yaakov: a historical model for Jewish feminists,” in: The Jewish Woman: New Perspectives, Elizabeth Koltun (ed.) (New York 1976): 139-149; Eliyana Adler, “Rediscovering Schools for Jewish Girls in Tsarist Russia,” East European Jewish Affairs, 34, 2 (2004): 139–150

59 Yemima Chovav, Maidens Love Thee: The Religious and Spiritual Life of Jewish Ashkenazic Women in the Early Modern Period (Jerusalem 2009, in Hebrew).

60 Tamar El-Or, “Are they like their grandmothers?”: A paradox of literacy in the life of ultraorthodox Jewish women,” Anthropology & Education Quarterly, 24, 1 (1993): 61-81.

61 Deborah Weissman, “Bais Ya’akov as an innovation in Jewish women’s education: a contribution to the study of education and social change,” Studies in Jewish Education, 7 (1995): 278-299.

62 Diglenu, November 1954: 11.

63 Menachem Friedman, “Back to the grandmother: the new ultra-Orthodox women,” Israel Studies, 1 (1988): 21-27.

64 Tamar El-Or, Educated and Ignorant: Ultraorthodox Jewish Women and Their World (Boulder, CO‎ 1994).‎

65 Alon Harel, “Regulating modesty-related practice,” Law & Ethics of Human Rights 1,1 (2007): 1-26; Lea Taragin-Zeller, “Between modesty and beauty: reinterpreting female piety in the Israeli Haredi community, in: Love, Marriage, and Jewish Families: Paradoxes of a Social Revolution, Sylvia Barack Fishman(ed.) (Waltham, MA 2015): 308-326.

66 Yony Klar, “Meir Gal: Kikar Ha-Shabat should stop publishing women’s pictures,” Pichefkes, May 25, 2016 ( (in Hebrew).

67 Avraham Meir Haberman, Title Pages of Hebrew Books (Safad 1969, in Hebrew); Marvin J. Heller, “Mars and Minerva on the Hebrew title-page,” Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America, 98, 3 (2004): 269-292; Shapiro, Changing the Immutable: 184-211.

68 Rivka Neriya-Ben Shahar, “‘For we ascend in holiness and do not descend’: Jewish ultra-Orthodox women’s agency through their discourse about media,” Journal of Modern Jewish Studies, 18, 2 (2019): 212-226; idem., “Images and Representations of Ultra-Orthodox (Haredi) Women in the Haredi Women’s Press since the Establishment of the State of Israel,” Kesher, 41 (2011): 88-100; Menachem Keren-Kratz, “ʽCome back, come back, so that we may look upon thee’: Women’s pictures in ultra-Orthodox newspapers,” Kesher, 53 (2019): 74-93.

69 For example: Amihai Kinarti, Az Nidberu, Kishrei Ha-Yedidut Bein… Rabbi…Kook… Ve-Hagaon Rabbi Issar Zalman Meltzer (Itamar 2004); Idem., Or Shelomo: Bei Gedolei Olam… Rabbi… Kook… Ve-Hagaon Rabbi Shelomo Zalman Auerbach (Jerusalem 2005); Idem., Or Reuven: Kishrei Ha-Yedidut Bein… Rabbi… Kook… Ve-Hagaon Rabbi Zalig Reuvan Bengis (Jerusalem 2011).

70 For example: Yitzhak Agronov, Gedolei Ha-Torah Ve-Hahasidut (Be’er Sheva, 2017). This is a contemporary Encyclopedia of rabbis many of whom had any “Zionist” related activities removed from their biographies.