The Response of Israeli Society to New Religious Movements: ISKCON and Teshuvah.

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A comparison is made here between the societal responses to new religious movements in Europe and the united States on the one hand, and Israeli responses to the Hare Krishna movement and to the movement for teshuuah (the "return" of secular Jews to Orthodox Judaism) on the other hand. Reactions to NRMs in Israel can be understood in the context of a close association between religion and state, the near monopoly of Orthodox Judaism in the provision of religious services, a division between religious and secular sectors, and the association of Judaism with Jewish-Israeli national identity. In contrast to other western societies, the most active and effective anti-cult activities in Israel have been initiated and carried out by religious interests and organizations, and especially by the ultra-Orthodox who are themselves involved in the conversion of secular Jews to a religious perspective. Even though secular Jews have depicted ISKCON and teshuvah as having similar negative effects (the break with families and the losses to the army, economy, and social welfare), the response to teshuvah has been more ambiguous than the wholly negative response to ISKCON. Whereas Israeli members of ISKCON have rejected the symbolic center of the state and society, the values and behavior in teshzwah are linked to the identity of most secular Jewish Israelis.
Original languageEnglish GB
Pages (from-to)279-295
Number of pages17
JournalJournal for the Scientific Study of Religion
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Sep 1992


  • CHURCH & state
  • RELIGIOUS institutions


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