The Politics of Belonging: A Study of Educated Jewish Ultra-Orthodox (Haredi) Women in Israel

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Abstract

The past few decades have witnessed significant increases in levels of education among women members of conservative religions. Contrary to the expectations of both researchers and policymakers, this trend has not been accompanied by decreases in levels of piety. The purpose of this article is to explore what it means to educated religious women to belong to conservative religious communities that embody values and practices that do not conform to the values of modernity associated with exposure to higher education. On the basis of a series of group interviews with educated Jewish Haredi women in Israel, we examined this very question. We found that the women we interviewed demonstrated a deep pride in their religious identity and an ongoing and strong commitment to their community. At the same time, they regarded membership in their community as a form of social capital enabling them to secure a wide array of benefits, which provided compensation for the demand to conform to conservative practices. We conclude that through a process of exchange (social capital against the price of conforming), the women challenge existing norms while maintaining strong religious identities, taking part in democratic processes, and, together, forging articulated bonds of membership and belonging.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1020
JournalReligions
Volume14
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2023

Keywords

  • Israel
  • agency
  • belonging
  • gender
  • minority women
  • religion
  • religious identity
  • ultra-orthodox women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Religious studies

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