This series is sponsored by Unpacking Israeli History.
For longer than we could remember, the story of Judaism has been wrapped up with the story of Zion. Our national narrative(s) circle our journeys to and from the homeland, and the impact of Zion has marked much of our literature, life, and dreams. This month, we are exploring this relationship, and considering where Israel is today, where it was, and where we find ourselves in relation to our homeland.
The tension between secular politics and religious fundamentalism is a problem shared by many modern states. This is particularly complex in the State of Israel, where the religious-secular schism provokes conflict at every level of politics and society. Driving these debates is the idea of the halachic state, the demand by many religious Jews that Israel should be governed by the law of the Torah as interpreted by Orthodox rabbis. Understanding this idea is a priority for scholars of Israel and for anyone with an interest in its future. The Invention of Jewish Theocracy is the first book in any language to trace the origins of the idea, to track its development, and to explain its crucial importance in Israel’s past and present. The Invention of Jewish Theocracy is an intellectual history, based on newly discovered material from numerous Israeli archives, private correspondence, court records, and lesser-known published works. It explains why the idea of the halachic state emerged when it did, what happened after it initially failed to take hold, and how it has regained popularity in recent decades, provoking cultural conflict that has shaken Israeli society.