Many Western societies have seen the age of marriage rising in late modern times. While conservative religious denominations often decry gender egalitarianism and liberal society's sexual norms for contributing to this development, many individuals belonging to such denominations are still part of this trend. This book focuses on one such group, Israeli Religious Zionists. Drawing on ethnographic research, Ari Engelberg explains why the numbers of Religious Zionist singles have risen, describes how these adults deal with social marginalization and spiritual challenges, and how the community leadership has responded. On a theoretical level, the book exposes the role that intimacy plays in late modern individualization processes and at the same time offers an in-depth view of Religious Zionist “lived religion”.
Ari Engelberg is senior lecturer at the Hadassah Academic College Jerusalem.
Part 1: Seeking a Soulmate
Chapter 1: Romantic Love and Marriage in Jewish History and Current Orthodoxy
Chapter 2: Singlehood and Gender Relations
Chapter 3: Religious Zionist Dating: Seeking Intimacy in a Consumer Culture
Part 1 2: Religious Zionist communities and singles
Chapter 4: Societal Scripts of "The Good Life" and Religous Singles Narratives
Chapter 5: Singles, Social Networks, and Communities
Part 3: Singles Religious Observance and Faith
Chapter 6: Sex and Parties, Loneliness and Depression: Spiritual Challenges
Chapter 7: Dealing with Spiritual Challenges
Part 4 Responses to the "Singles Problem”
Chapter 8: Advice and ideology: How rabbis and layleaders attempt to assist singles
Conclusion: Individualization, Intimacy and Religion
About the Author
Dr. Engelberg’s book is an exceedingly important document in the study of the personal sphere of life in Israeli Religious Zionist society. The book offers an alternative to a reading that is too closely aligned with the study of Religious Zionist ideology and brings us closer to the multifaceted reality of this diverse group, some segments of whose leadership occupy a prominent place in today’s Israel. Engelberg presents us with a more complex sociological reading that illuminates the variety of social and personal outlooks in Religious-Zionist society in urban Israel. Through the stories of single men and women in Israeli Religious Zionist society, the book succeeds in communicating an array of tensions, contradictions, and challenges that shed light on the complex encounter between sectoral education, realization of a traditional life trajectory and the liberal desire for individual breathing room and personal choice. Required reading for an understanding of yet another facet of the social diversification of the Israeli middle class in recent decades.
Singlehood and Religion: The Case of Israeli Religious Zionist Singles is highly interesting and informative. Dr. Ari Engleberg’s interviews and analyses shed new and important light on some of the challenges and changes with respect to singledom and family taking place taking place in the contemporary Religious Zionist community. Especially significant for the sociology of religion, sociology of the modern family, and contemporary Israeli society.
In his book, Engelberg presents systematic, innovative, and groundbreaking research. Beyond the current picture of the world of Religious Zionist singles, the book examines the phenomenon of prolonged singlehood in the Religious Zionist society over the two-decade timeline. The book offers a multi-vocal picture - both from a gender perspective, by bringing the voices of both female and male singles, and from an intra-sectoral perspective, by bringing the voices of singles from a wide range of religious Zionism. Moreover, Engelberg not only brings the voice of singles but also that of religious leadership - the rabbis - regarding prolonged singlehood. Most of all, I enjoyed Engelberg's brilliant analysis, which gives the book another dimension of depth. His analysis sheds light on the world of Religious Zionist singles and at the same time on the universal phenomenon of prolonged singlehood and romantic love in the postmodern era. Although the book is a deep and comprehensive academic book, the reading is very fluid and difficult to put down.