Israel - education
Israel's character as an immigration country presents the education system
with a difficult task of integration, as Hebrew, which is the language of
instruction, is not immediately mastered by the many new immigrants. With its
normative obligations, the Jewish religion plays a major role in Israeli
educational thinking, but it is also a goal of the education system to provide
an educational offer to the non-Jewish residents. In addition to the
state-run, highly centralized education system, there are a number of
independent schools run by either moderate or orthodox Jewish circles. There is
11 years of compulsory schooling for the 5-16 year olds.
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The education system begins with a preschool for 2-6 year olds, whose final
year is compulsory. Primary school is six years old. This is followed by three
years of primary and three years of secondary school, which are applied for by
86% of a cohort (1994).
After graduating at the age of 18, both women and men serve their military
service; only then can they continue their education.
Higher education is characterized by strong growth in the 1990's; they are
offered at eight universities and at a number of higher education
institutions; approximately one third of the population has a higher education (1992).
OFFICIAL NAME: Eretz Israel
CAPITAL CITY: Jerusalem (not internationally recognized as capital)
POPULATION: 6,350,000 (Source: COUNTRYaah)
AREA: 20,770 km²
OFFICIAL LANGUAGE (S): Hebrew, Arabic, Russian, Yiddish, Polish, English, others
RELIGION: Jews 82%, Muslims (especially Sunni Muslims) 14%, Christians 3%, Druze 1%
CURRENCY CODE: ILS
ENGLISH NAME: Israel
POPULATION COMPOSITION: Jews 80%, Palestinians 20%
GDP PER residents: $ 18406 (2007)
LIFE EXPECTANCY: men 77 years, women 81 years (2007)
INDEX OF LIVING CONDITIONS, HDI: 0.927
INDEX OF LIVING CONDITIONS, POSITION: 23
INTERNET DOMAIN NAME: .il
Israel, a republic in the Middle East, established in May 1948 following a UN
adoption. During subsequent wars with its neighbors, Israel has conquered large
tracts of land. Some have been returned after negotiations (Sinai), while others
have been annexed to Israel, such as East Jerusalem in 1967 and the Golan
Heights in 1981. Furthermore, the West Bank has been occupied since the Six Day
War in 1967.
Israel is a Jewish immigrant state; 80% of the residents are Jews, and the
vast majority have immigrated since the establishment of the state of
Israel. They have come from a great many lands; in the 1990's most from Russia
and Ukraine; the most recent major group of immigrants is from Ethiopia. In
social life, European Jews dominate, while the indigenous people, Israeli Arabs
and smaller groups of Druze and Christians, are economically and politically
Israel - Constitution
The Republic of Israel has no written constitution, but in June 1950 the
parliament, the Knesset, decided to allow a state constitution to
develop gradually. A number of laws have since been given the status of
constitutions, such as laws on the Knesset (1958), the president (1964), the
government (1968) and the judiciary (1984). For the Golan Heights and the West
Bank, laws from the British Mandate and Turkish times apply.
Legislative power lies with the 120 members of the Knesset, who are elected
by direct universal suffrage for four years. Persons occupying a number of
senior administrative, military or religious positions are not eligible. Voters
vote for party lists and not for individuals, and the country forms one
constituency. Israeli citizens over the age of 18 have the right to vote, while
eligibility is achieved at 21.
The proportional electoral system with a blocking limit of only 1.5% has
spawned many party formations; thus, 30 parties participated in the 1992
election, and all of Israel's governments have been coalition governments.
The President is elected for five years by the Knesset by secret ballot and
simple majority and may be re-elected only once; it takes at least ten members
of the Knesset to nominate a candidate. The president is head of state, but his
duties are largely representative.
The executive power lies with the government headed by the Prime Minister,
who is to be a member of the Knesset. Since May 1996, he has been elected by
direct universal suffrage. The Prime Minister appoints the ministers from among
both members and non-members of the Knesset. The government is accountable to
Israel - political parties
Since its establishment as a state in May 1948, Israel has been a pluralistic
democracy, with several different political parties running for the
Knesset. Since the end of the 1970's, the political system has been dominated
by the Israeli Workers' Party, which has consisted of three previously
independent parties since 1968, and the Likud, which was formed in 1973 as an
association of several political groups. Both parties rest on a Zionist basis.
Likud leader Ariel Sharon broke up with the party in 2005 and formed a new
party, Kadima, which in connection with the 2006 election launched itself as a
new center party. Smaller political parties such as the religiously founded Shas
(founded 1984), the National Religious Party (founded 1902, current name since
1956) and a bloc called United Torah Judaism, which consists of four smaller,
highly conservative and orthodox political groups, have over the last decades
played a central role because the two dominant parties alone have not been able
to secure a parliamentary majority.
The small political parties have thus been able to pressure the entire
country's political system to reconsider the relationship between religion and
politics in the Jewish state of Israel. The Israeli-Arab population is drawn in
the Knesset by the Democratic Arab Party (founded 1988).
Israel - economy
Since the formation of Israel, the economy has been dominated by the need for
a strong military. Defense spending accounted for more than 25% of GDP in the
1970's, and although the share has since been significantly reduced, it is still
far higher than in most other developing countries.
Furthermore, the prioritization of a high degree of self-sufficiency, the
construction of a well-functioning infrastructure and a public welfare system as
well as the integration of immigrants have been of great importance for economic
An expansive economic policy resulted in high growth rates in the years up to
1973, but also led to large deficits in public budgets and the trade balance,
largely financed by the United States. In the late 1970's and early 1980's,
however, the budget deficit ran rampant.
At the same time, inflation rose dramatically, not least due to the fact that
the rate of wage growth was tied to developments in consumer prices. After
almost hyperinflationary conditions in 1984-85, where consumer prices rose by
15-20% per month, the government implemented an economic stabilization program,
which included budget austerity, freezing of the exchange rate and money
exchange. At the same time, privatizations were initiated within e.g. the
telecommunications sector, the financial sector and the chemical industry.
While the 1980's were marked by a slowdown, economic growth in the 1990's was
one of the highest among the countries, stimulated by the better business
climate of the peace process, by export growth in new markets in the Far East,
an expansive fiscal policy as well as by the wave of immigration from the former
Soviet Union, which has led to an increase in domestic demand.
Pga. a high level of education, immigrants have had no difficulty finding
work, and despite massive growth in the labor force, unemployment fell from just
over 11% in 1991 to 6% in 1996.
Inflation slowed somewhat from the end of the 1980's, but remained above 10%
in the 1990's. This is due to the fact that the budget deficit was not reduced
sufficiently and that wages were index-linked.
As part of the stabilization policy, monetary policy was pursued tightly
after an inflation target, while the shekel was continuously written down
against a trade-weighted basket of currencies to avoid eroding competitiveness.
The collapse of the peace process in 2000 and the global crisis of 2001 led
to a downturn in the economy with failing investments and tourist
visits; furthermore, the commute of Palestinian labor was hampered. To finance
increased military spending, social cuts were implemented and automatic wage
adjustment was put on hold.
Unemployment exceeded 10% in 2002, and despite the system of income
transfers, the share of the poor grew (21% in 2005). Nevertheless, it was not
possible to achieve a financial balance, and government debt in 2005 was roughly
equivalent to GDP. From 2002, the economy grew again, in 2005 by 5%.
Israel has a significant export of IT products, weapons and cut
diamonds. Still, the trade deficit is large. The balance of payments deficit is
offset by transfers and loans from the United States in particular. The main
trading partners are the EU and the US, which Israel has respectively. an
association and a free trade agreement with.
In 2005, Denmark's exports to Israel were DKK 1,180 million. DKK, while
imports from there amounted to 571 mill. kr.
Israel - social conditions
In addition to a compulsory health insurance, everyone pays into a nationwide
social insurance scheme, which is responsible for paying social assistance to
the disadvantaged, sickness benefits, unemployment benefits, pensions and child
Some of these services are conditional on the recipient having completed his
military service; this restriction means that the Arab minority of Israel does
not get them.
In addition, there are a number of special support schemes for Israel's
ultra-Orthodox communities, including: a study grant that in practice makes it
possible to study the Holy Scriptures throughout life.
Despite the social safety net that the state has stretched out among the most
disadvantaged, between 15 and 20% of the population, predominantly Arabs, live
below the official poverty line.
Israel (Health Conditions)
Life expectancy in Israel is about the same as in Western Europe: 78.1 years
for women and 74.6 years for men. Infant mortality is 9 per 1000. The mortality
rate from cardiovascular disease was previously very high, but is now also on a
par with the EU average. Lung cancer is a relatively rare cause of death and the
proportion of smokers is only 30%. Breast cancer, on the other hand, is
relatively common. In 1996, 421 AIDS patients were registered. The continued
large-scale immigration entails the introduction of e.g. tropical diseases such
as malaria, which has otherwise been under control for a long time. There are
still differences in health status between the geographical areas and between
the Jewish and the non-Jewish population.
The country spends 4.2% of GDP on health care, of which approximately 50% from the
public sector. approximately 96% of the population is insured through four competing
insurance systems. Primary health care is provided by clinics run by insurance
companies or private clinics. The hospital system is run by the state and the
insurance companies. In 1992, the number of hospital beds was 6.3 per. 1000
residents. In the same year there were 3.3 doctors and 6.7 nurses per. 1000
Israel - legal system
The legal system in Israel was based on the legal system that was in force
in Palestine before 1948, ie. primarily a mixture of Turkish and English
law. Recent legal developments have in many respects been marked by common
law; thus, the courts largely base their judgments on previous judgments. In
several areas, religious considerations play an important role, for example in
family law issues, as the country's various religious groups, Jews, Muslims,
etc., are subject to their own courts and legal rules in these matters. A unique
feature of Israeli law is the so-called Law of Return and the related
legislation, which gives every Jew the right to immigrate to Israel and the
right to become an Israeli citizen.
The Israeli Supreme Court is the appellate body of five regional courts. In
addition to these, there are a number of lower instances with jurisdiction in
civil cases of minor economic importance and in criminal cases of a less serious
The Armed Forces IDF (Israel Defense Forces) is (2006) at
168,300. The IDF does not have traditional defenses, but the land force (Mazi)
is 125,000, of which 105,000 are conscripts, the navy (Heyl Ha'Yam)
at approximately 5500, of which 2500 are conscripts, and the Air Corps (Heyl
Ha'Avir) of 35,000. Normal military service is four years for men and 21
months for women. The total reserve force is 408,000. The military intelligence
service Aman has 7,000 employees.
The defenses are equipped with modern Israeli, modern or modernized Western
and modernized conquered Soviet equipment. The country is estimated to have
a nuclear weapon impact force of approximately 200 weapons on short- and medium-range
missiles. Mazi's main force is still its armored divisions, but due to the
security situation in the occupied territories, increasing emphasis is being
placed on infantry units. The Air Corps is considered to be one of the world's
best trained. The sea corps is relatively small, but suitable for controlling
local waters. The Border Gendarmerie (Magav), which handles
security tasks in the occupied territories, is at 8000.
Israel - mass media
Israel - Mass Media, Print Mass Media
The first print media, the two weekly Halevanon and Hhavatzlet, were both
founded in 1863 in Jerusalem, when fewer than 25,000 Jews lived in the
country; they were quickly shut down by the Turkish authorities.
In 1885, Eliezer Ben-Jehudah took over the weekly Hatzvi. Thousands of new
Hebrew words first saw the light of day in Hatzvi, and Ben-Jehudah is called the
founder of the modern Hebrew language.
The first Hebrew daily newspaper was published in 1910. With the growing
immigration, the political party press emerged. Davar, the magazine of the
Israeli trade union movement, was established in 1925.
The only newspaper independent of party interests was Haaretz, established in
1937 in connection with the immigration of Jews fleeing Nazi Germany. Mass
immigration in the 1950's gave impetus to the creation of a number of dailies in
foreign languages, just as the labor movement began publishing a daily
newspaper, Omer, which in simple Hebrew appealed to novice readers.
The Israeli press was strongly patriotic motivated during this period. The
military censorship intervened in the coverage of security issues, and the
voluntary institution "Committee of Editors-in-Chief" generally followed
recommendations from the government not to mention sensitive matters of national
importance. This situation changed after the 1973 Yom Kippur War, which revealed
deep shortcomings in the nation's defense preparedness.
Simultaneously with the rising standard of living, the audience's need for an
independent press grew. This development was evident in that a number of
party-owned newspapers, the old flagship Davar, closed, and the independent
Jediot Aharonot became the country's largest daily newspaper with a daily
circulation of 350,000 and a weekend circulation of 600,000 (1997).
The second largest daily newspaper is Ma'ariv with 150,000 on weekdays and
250,000 on weekends. In the 1990's, military censorship rarely interfered with
news coverage, and the editor-in-chief committee ceased to function in practice.
The English-language daily newspaper Jerusalem Post has a circulation of
15,000 on weekdays and 40,000 on weekends (1997). Its influence is due to the
fact that it is read by foreign journalists and diplomats. In all, about 30
newspapers are published, of which about half are in languages other than
Hebrew, such as Yiddish, Arabic and German.
Electronic mass media
The first television channel was created in July 1967 and was state-owned. It
was indirectly the result of the Six Day War. So far, the government had opposed
the growing desire for its own television because the leadership of the labor
movement believed it would encourage consumption and demoralize the population.
This position was strongly supported by press publishers who feared
competition. However, the decision was made after the government became aware of
the possibilities of using television as an effective tool in the propaganda war
with the Arab world.
Due to the political tensions surrounding Israel, the population is strongly
news hungry. The news broadcasts are the most popular TV shows. They supplement
the radio stations that broadcast news every hour and often break into other
programs with short news bulletins. In 1993, a commercial channel 2 was opened,
and with the introduction of cable TV in 1994, there has been access to
approximately 40 channels, which have had a coverage of approximately 90% of the population.
A 1994 study revealed that the Israeli spends, on average, half of his free
time in front of the screen. approximately 75% watch one of the two news broadcasts
that are broadcast simultaneously at 20, and approximately 80% supplement the TV news
with one or more news broadcasts over the radio. Israel's radio and television
broadcast seven days a week, including on the Sabbath, despite increasing
pressure from the Orthodox government to sanctify it. The government, with the
support of the Supreme Court, has so far resisted.
But tens of thousands of Orthodox do not watch television, either on holidays
or weekdays, in protest of the "demoralizing" influence of the media; when a
politician from an orthodox party was appointed communications minister in 1997,
he refused to take over responsibility for television. For the sake of Israel's
Arab minority (approximately 18% of the population), both television and radio
are also broadcast in Arabic.
Israel - visual arts and architecture
Israel - Visual Arts and Architecture, Architecture
The first attempt at a special Jewish architectural expression was the
Herzliya Gymnasium in Jaffa/Tel Aviv (1906), strongly influenced by Oriental
Romanticism. Tel Aviv was founded in 1909, and after 1917 the English made a
city plan in accordance with the ideas of the time about the ideal garden city,
an effort that still characterizes the city.
The German immigration in the 1930's brought a group of academically trained
architects to the country, students from the Bauhaus school. Young locally
trained architects traveled on study stays abroad, Zeew Rechter, Dov Karmi
and Arieh Sharon, who all had a decisive influence on the architectural
Bauhaus functionalism decisively broke with the tendencies of previous years'
sentimental orientalism, but elements of both currents were included in the
architectural expression of later periods. After 1948, a mass construction was
launched, characterized by austerity demands, haste and improvisation.
The building style was characterized by prefabricated monotony, an
expression of the desire of public builders to enforce a national identity among
immigrants from 70 different countries.
1960's architecture was influenced by Le Corbusier and Oscar
Niemeyer. Clarity and simplicity characterized the best buildings, raw concrete
was the preferred material, eg in Al Mansfields and Dora Gad's Israel Museum
(1959, expanded by the Danish architect Jørgen Bo), Aba Elhanani's Yad Vashem
building in memory of the victims for the Holocaust as well as the Joseph
Klarweins and Dov Karmis Knesset building in Jerusalem.
After the Six Day War in 1967, housing was to be provided for a tripling of
the Jewish population, and architecture became a political tool. The distinctive
features of Jerusalem were to be preserved, through the forced use of the
hot yellowish Jerusalem stone, the new had to fit into the historic architecture
and the old city within the walls retaining its central location in the city
plan; it succeeded in part, especially thanks to the Danish architect Ulrik
Plesner, who was city architect 1975-76.
From the 1980's include Avraham Yaski's IBM building in Tel Aviv, Mordechai
Ben Horin's Asia House and Arieh and Eldar Sharon's America House, as well as
David Reznik's Mormon University in Jerusalem. Among the award-winning buildings
of the 1990's are the Plesner Cultural Center, Beit Gabriel, on the Sea of
Galilee, Adi and Rami Karmi's Supreme Court building in Jerusalem and the
Diamond, Kolker and Kolker City Hall in Jerusalem.
The first Jewish art academy in Palestine, Bezalel, was established by Boris
Schatz (1867-1932) in Jerusalem in 1906. The first Jewish artists in Palestine
painted in a primitivist, oriental romantic style inspired by the French painter
The first modern art museum was founded in 1932. During study stays in
France, artists from what was then Palestine were inspired by Jewish artists
from the Paris School, Chaïm Soutine, Amedeo Modigliani, Jules Pascin and Marc
Chagall. Immigrant German artists such as Max Liebermann, Lesser Ury and Jakob
Steinhardt helped to blow up provincialism.
The German Expressionist school and black-and-white art sparked a protest
movement among artists who sought to find an expression inspired by the light,
the landscape and a new aesthetic, independent of European influence and the
Bezalel school's orientalism. The group Ofakim Hadashim's (New Horizons) first
exhibition opened in 1948. Its lyrical abstractions detached Israeli art from
its preconditions, and its influence is traced as an echo in almost all
contemporary Israeli art.
In the 1940's, Jitzhak Danziger was a central figure in the group of
Canaanites seeking inspiration in the ancient past of the Middle East; later he
became the leading sculptor and teacher of Israeli modernism. In 1965, a group
of younger artists created 10+, continuing New Horizons' thoughts; the group
disbanded in 1970. In the 1960's, many Israeli artists traveled to Paris and
London: Aviva Uri, Rafi Lavie, and Moshe Kupperman developed strong personal
expressions, as did Menashe Kadishman (b. 1932) and Dani Karavan (b. 1930). The
art of the 1980's and 1990's is highly individualistic and characterized by the
pluralistic Israeli society, liberated from artist associations, manifestos, and
Tamar Getter, Rachel Na'aman, Dorrit Yacoby and Deganit Berest have delivered
a strong female element in the visual arts. Since New Horizons, art in Israel
has evolved in parallel with the international, but with a distinctive character
that is a product of the country's conflict-ridden existence.
Over time, Jews have used a variety of languages as literary means of
expression. For example, the Jewish Bible (Old Testament) is written
in Hebrew, but contains parts of books written in Aramaic.
During the Hellenistic period, Jews wrote in Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic. (See
The Dead Sea Scrolls, Apocrypha, Pseudo-Pigraphs, and Hellenistic Judaism).
In the Middle Ages, the Jews living in Arabic-speaking countries created a
rich literature in this language. At the same time, the beginning of a literary
production in the special Jewish vernacular Yiddish and Judesmo is seen.
After the Enlightenment movement in the 1700's and 1800's. in Central and
Eastern Europe, haskalah, Jews have both spoken and written in the languages
of the countries in which they lived. Their works have helped shape the Jewish
tradition and can be considered part of Jewish literature.
In the 1900's. many prominent writers of Jewish origin with different
nationalities appear; they are mentioned under the countries to which they
The recurring theme in Hebrew literature is the Jews' longing for the
fatherland. At the same time, the development history of a more or less
discriminated minority is reflected.
Ancient Hebrew literature (approximately 1200 BC-approx. 800 AD)
Biblical Hebrew uses an effective epic and elegiac style. Early forms of love
songs, epic poetry and folk songs form part of the Tanak (the Hebrew Bible,
see Bible), and also the prose passages have a distinct rhythm and poetic
pulse. Some books are characterized by high rhetorical style, while other books
are in a more even conversational style.
The study of Tanak led to the development of two general forms of
tradition, which until approximately 200 AD handed over orally. One, halakah ('rule,
practice'), is centered on the substance of the law in the biblical books. The
other, haggadah or aggadah ('narrative'), is derived from narratives,
prayers, proverbs, etc.; it contains all rabbinic teachings which are not
During the first two centuries AD. the halakah substance was collected, and
was available around the year 200 in a final editorial, called the Mishnah,
made by Yehuda Ha-Nasi. The contents of the Mishnah are
mainly provisions that are either reproduced anonymously or attributed to named
scholars. Although Jewish everyday language at that time was predominantly
Aramaic, the language of the Mishnah is Hebrew, yet strongly influenced
by everyday language; hence the name "Mishnah Hebrew" as opposed to Biblical
For the next three centuries, the Mishnah was the subject of
discussions and interpretations at the Jewish centers of learning in Palestine
and the Babylonian diaspora. In both places, discussions and interpretations
were gathered in resp. The Palestinian Talmud (popularly the Jerusalem
Talmud) from 423 AD. and the Babylonian Talmud from around the
year 500. Both Talmuds are in Aramaic with a strong touch of Hebrew: the
Babylonian in the Eastern dialect and the Palestinian in the Western. It is the
Babylonian Talmud that was taken over by all Jewish congregations as the
authoritative extension of the Law, rooted in the biblical books.
A similar collection took place in the field of aggadic matter; the
works are called midrashim (sing. midrash). Among the best
known are Midrash Rabba, which covers the five books of Moses and the
five feast rolls (Lamentations, Book of Ruth, Book of Ecclesiastes, Book of
Esther, and Song of Songs).
Pijut - liturgical poetry
During the Byzantine period, a new type of liturgical
poetry, pijut, flourished, being used in worship in the synagogue on special
Sabbaths and festivals. The basic tone of Pijutan is messianic fervor and
religious upliftment. Jose ben Jose is the first pajtan, pijut poet,
whose name is known. He led a group of pagans in Palestine in the 500's. The
pijut form was later spread to the congregations in Muslim Babylon (Iraq), North
Africa, Byzantine Southern Italy, and eventually Germany.
Medieval literature (from 800)
In the Middle Ages, Jewish literature had many geographical centers and
reflected life in the various countries and surroundings. In addition to
rabbinic works, it consisted of grammar, lexicography, exegesis, poetry,
philosophy, and science. Part of the literature that became important for the
further development of the Hebrew literary tradition was written in Arabic or
The Middle Ages are colossally rich in the preparation of Bible and Talmudic
commentaries, collections of laws, and rabbinic rulings. In the second half of
1000-t. wrote the French scholar Rabbi Rashi a commentary on the majority of
the Tanak and Talmud. Rashi's entire manuscript for the Talmud with
commentaries has become the basic handbook of Talmudic studies. In the period
1100-1300, a group of scholars, known as the Tosafists, added, analyzed and
challenged Rashi's explanations.
Among other scholars in the 1200's. should be mentioned Jakob ben Asher (approximately
1270-approx. 1340), the collector of the Code Arba'ah Turim (The Four
Pillars), a guide to Jewish daily life. Turim became the source of the
best known of all collections of law, namely Josef Karos' Shulhan Arukh (The
Covered Table) in four volumes written in the 1500's. It became, with
the remarks of Moses Isserles, the authoritative collection of laws for
The spread of Greek philosophy in the Islamic world in the 900's. influenced
Jewish intellectuals living under Islamic rule. Attracted by dissertations on
science, medicine, mathematics, and philosophy, now available in Arabic, Jewish
scholars began writing works in these fields. They were usually written in
Arabic with a touch of Hebrew characters. Rationalism was the aspect that made
the strongest impression on the Jews. Consequently, they found in the
tradition-bound works sections whose content seemed illogical to them. The
ambiguities were interpreted as allegories, ie. containing a deeper meaning
behind the literal statement. Biblical commentators such as Abraham Ibn
Ezra and David Kimhi belonged to this interpretive tradition.
In their theological and philosophical writings, medieval Jewish writers
sought to prove the fundamental rationality of Judaism, and its conformity with
the conclusions of Greek philosophy. Saadiyah ben Josef Gaon emphasized the
wisdom and goodness of God, even in laws that did not seem rational, as God's
purpose was to help man toward happiness in this world and spiritual bliss
In contrast, the Aristotelian philosopher Maimonides insisted that nothing
definite could reasonably be said about God. Maimonides went to great lengths in
his attempt to harmonize philosophy with Jewish tradition; his
religious-philosophical masterpiece Moreh Nevukhim (The Counselor's
Guide) is an attempt to reconcile belief in revelation and Aristotelian
philosophy. His updated code of law Mishne Torah was intended as the
law book of a new Jewish state.
Unlike Maimonides, the philosopher and poet Salomon Ibn Gabirol followed the
Neoplatonic school. Yehuda Ha-Levi pointed out the limitations of philosophy in
relation to religious knowledge. Hans Kuzari, a defense of Judaism in
dialogue form, is more a theoretical representation of Jewish theology than an
Poetry and prose in Spain, France and Italy
The main genre of medieval Hebrew literature was poetry. Hebrew poets used
Arabic metrical forms and innumerable stylistic devices that spawned a varied
and weighty poetry. Among the great classics of the period is Ibn Gabirol,
whose religious poems express his neoplatonic philosophy; it also characterizes
his edifying texts expressing a love of wisdom, as well as his great religious
philosophical poem Keter Malkhut (The King's Crown). The
greatest Hebrew poet of the period was Jehuda Ha-Levi, whose Hebrew poetry is
the culmination of the Golden Age. He is especially remembered for burning
longing and love poems for Zion.
Prose also developed Hebrew language and literary possibilities during this
period. Stylistically, it is a mixture of rhyming prose and metric verse. The
literary activity continued in Spain until the expulsion of the Jews in 1492,
but it never reached the height of the classical golden age (950-1250).
From Spain, literature spread to the south of France and Italy. In France,
several works written by Jews in Arabic were translated into Hebrew. In Italy,
the sonnet was introduced into Hebrew literature. MH Luzzatto, poet and mystic,
created the first allegorical reading dramas in Hebrew.
Religion and mystery
In the field of religious literature, medieval Hebrew writers have created a
number of edifying works. They especially drew inspiration from the mishnah
treaty Ethics of the Fathers (Pirkei avot).
The religious literature also included mysticism, the beginnings of which can
be traced back to 100 BC. Jewish mysticism went through several phases before
reaching its highest stage, the Kabbalah (see Judaism (Kabbalah)), the basic
text of which is the Zohar (The Book of Heavenly Radiance), written in
Spain on an artificial Aramaic 1275-1286, allegedly by Moshe ben Shemtov de León
Modern Hebrew Literature (from 1700)
Haskalah (1700-1880). The first important modern Hebrew cultural
movement was the haskalah ('enlightenment') that originated in Germany around
the 1750's. At the head of the haskalah was Moses Mendelssohn surrounded by a
group of intellectuals who cultivated Hebrew out of a desire to bring European
enlightenment to the Jewish readers as well as harmonize Jewish life with the
new environment and promote equal rights for the Jews. A monthly journal
containing essays, poems, and historical treatises was published, followed by
works on science, ethics, and other topics. Together, they formed the basis of a
budding secular Hebrew literature. However, the revival of Hebrew did not last
long. German became more and more the "modern" Jewish literary language.
However, Haskalah was revived in Galicia and Ukraine, where there were
countless Jewish congregations. Josef Perl (1773-1839) and Jitzhak Erter
(1791-1851) wrote satirical fiction to shake up a stagnant orthodoxy. Shlomo
Rapoport (1790-1867) introduced new methods in historical research. And Nahman
Krochmal (1785-1840) presented an in-depth analysis of Jewish historical
The strongest flourishing of the haskalah literature took place in Russia in
the first half of 1800-t. The poet Abraham Dov Lebensohn (1794-1878) wrote
ardent love songs for the Hebrew language, while his son Micha (Mikhal) Josef
Lebensohn (1828-52) wrote biblical romances and pantheistic natural
poetry. Abraham Mapu wrote the first Hebrew novel with Ahavat Zion (1853,
The Love of Zion), a romantic idyll located in biblical Israel. His third novel Ajit
Zavu'a (The Hypocrite) is a realistic contemporary novel that satirizes the
Jewish community in Lithuania.
In the 1860's and 1870's, Jehuda Leib Gordon (1830-92), Peretz Smolenskin
(1842-85) and Moshe Leib Lilienblum (1843-1910) were dominant in Hebrew
literature. They insisted on changes in Jewish way of life and daily life as
well as reform of the Jewish community.
Gordon, like Mapu, began as a romantic writer on biblical subjects. From 1871
onwards, he wrote a series of ballads in which he revolved around the Jewish
tragedy. In his six novels, Smolenskin created a kaleidoscope of Jewish life,
distancing himself from the Europeanized Jew as much as the Orthodox
In his essay writing, he promoted as the first Hebrew writer the idea that
the Jews were not a religious sect but an indivisible people, even though it was
without a land. Lilienblum began as a moderate religious reformer; since then he
became preoccupied with social problems. In the teachings of Elisha ben
Abuja (1878), he preached Jewish socialism.
The most significant novelists of the period are SJ Abramovitz, known under
the pseudonym Mendele Mokher Seforim, Shalom Aleichem and IL Peretz. They have
drawn the poverty and wretchedness of the Jewish shtetls (village) and sharply
satirically portrayed a daily life with bissers, beggars and Talmudists. Mendele
enriched the Haskalah-Hebrew language by incorporating post-biblical, rabbinic,
and medieval Hebrew, earning the nickname "the father of modern Hebrew
The National Renaissance (1880-1948)
Hajim Nahman Bialik was considered a "national poet ". His personal destiny
was identified with that of the Jewish people, and his poetry expresses the
despair that the lost paradise of faith could not be regained. While Bialik is a
specific Jewish poet, Shaul Tchernichovsky's (1875-1943) inspiration is more
universal. His poetry celebrates passion, seeking a Judaism that is strength,
The fictional prose and essay writing of the period, like poetry, was a
creation of the new Jewish nationalism, Zionism.
Other writers, such as Micha Josef Berdyczewsky and JH Brenner, were
preoccupied with the rootless Jewish intellectual desperately trying to survive
in a universe without God, in the great alien, hostile city.
The essay was a popular form of expression during the period of national
rebirth. Ahad Haam (1857-1927) wrote about current and historical affairs. He
opposed "political Zionism" and argued that a Jewish state should be established
only after a national spiritual center had been established. In contrast, under
the influence of Nietzsche, Berdyczewsky dreamed of a revaluation of all Jewish
The writers who went to Palestine with the second and third wave of
immigration (1904-24) did not devote themselves solely to writing, but also took
part in pioneer life. They perceived the human struggle to conquer the earth by
work as a company characterized by greatness, and they described it as
semi-realistic and poetic. Poetry also glorified the lives and ideals of the
pioneers. For example, Jitzhak Lamdan's (1899-1954) masterpiece is Masada(1927)
a national epic poem, which connects the heroism of Masada's ancient defenders
with those who are now engaged in building a homeland in Palestine. Authors such
as M. Smilanski (1874-1953), A. Hameiri (1890-1970) and J. Shami (1888-1949)
described the lives and customs of both Eastern European Jews and Arabs in the
country. Judah Burla (1887-1969), who came from a Sephardic family, portrays in
all her novels her original ethnic group, in the same way that M. Tabib
(1910-79) later did with Yemeni Jews.
After World War I, the literary center moved to Palestine and attracted a
number of writers influenced by Russian symbolism, Italian futurism, and German
expressionism. Abraham Shlonski (1900-73) rebelled against Bialik's authority
and created a new language, dominated by original metaphors, symbols and
images. In Natan Alterman's works, an often unreal atmosphere prevails,
characterized by a supernatural vision in which death seems abolished. Leah
Goldberg's (1911-70) poetry, on the other hand, is characterized by concrete
images of especially childhood, nature and disappointed love. Uri Zvi Grinberg
professed a messianic, mysterious Zionism; the Jewish people became for him a
sacred instrument of divine will. It is in his works that one finds the most
painful elegies of the persecution of Jews during World War II. Jonathan Ratosh,
on the other hand, stood close to the Arabs. He rediscovered the bond that binds
the two peoples together and formed the Canaanite group.
The theater, which had never been a widespread genre, broke out with the
playwright M. Shoham's (1897-1937) Bible-inspired drama Tire and Jerusalem in
SJ Agnon, the first Israeli to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature, orbits
two poles: Eastern Europe represented by Buczacz, his hometown, and Israel by
Jerusalem. His characters, who come from the traditional Jewish world, are
described in a language he himself created, taken mainly from the post-biblical
language layer. Haim Hazaz's novels and short stories cover a wide area in time
and space: Shabtainism, the Russian Revolution, the young heroism of Israel's
war for independence (1947-48) and various ethnic groups in Israel, Eastern
Europe and Yemen. The main theme is exile and redemption.
Israeli literature (from 1948)
In 1948, the state of Israel was founded. The majority of the new generation
of writers were born in the country. Deeply integrated into kibbutz life, they
denied the existence of the diaspora and enthusiastically indulged in the
collective values. Their heroes were at once builders and fighters who
deliberately spent their lives defending the new ideals. Their existence took
place exclusively within the collective circle, a kibbutz microcosm
characterized by the displacement of conflicts and lack of psychological
insight. The best known among the writers of this generation are J. Mossinson
(b. 1919), M. Shamir (1921-2004), N. Shaham (b. 1925), A. Megged (1920-2016).
Jizhar, however, projected a somewhat disillusioned attitude to kibbutz
life in his novels. He questioned accepted truths about heroism and pioneer
society and fostered an anti-institutional political consciousness in
subsequent generations of writers. The most prominent poet of the period is
Haim Guri (1922-2018).
The founding of the state quickly caused the prevailing ideological concepts
to crumble. The values that the kibbutz cherished could not withstand the
rapid growth of the new society; consequently, the same authors attempted to
cast a different basis for individual existence. The development went in the
direction of a much more individualistically oriented literature.
Through depiction of various historical personalities, Moshe Shamir sought to
express his disappointment with a state marked by corruption and social
decay. The female author A. Kahana-Carmon (1926-2019) portrayed in a very
personal style lonely existences trapped in their lack of communication.
In the late 1950's and 1960's, the so-called State Generation of Writers
emerged. They had begun to write after the founding of the state and took its
existence for granted. The "great triumvirate" AB Yehoshua, Amos Oz and Aron
Appelfeld dominated the literary scene. They distanced themselves from the
realism of the previous generation and the dwelling on the collective, writing
allegorical and symbolic parables, influenced by Kafka and European
Longings for destruction and death drive appear in a surreal atmosphere in
Joshua's debut stories. In his later novels, some doubts are felt about the
vitality of Israeli society. Yoram Kaniuk caricatures the "new Israelis" in
several novels; and the sacred and immovable values on which Israeli society
is founded are attacked in novels by Amos Oz. He is fascinated by evil, weakness
and ugliness and reveals the upside of a society that defends ideals as it has
in reality turned its back. On the basis of the recognition of the
impoverishment of Israeli culture, Aron Appelfeld sought the ancient sources of
Judaism. The phenomenon is known as neo-Judaism.
Poetry also changed character. The national focus was abandoned in favor of a
preoccupation with universal human phenomena. Poets such as Nathan Zach, D.
Avidan (1934-94) and Yehuda Amichai rejected the pathos and rhetoric of their
predecessors, preferring simple images taken from everyday life; Meir Wiezeltier
(b. 1941) made Tel Aviv the new symbol of modern reality, while Dalia
Ravikovitch's (1936-2005) lyrical poems revolved around personal emotions
expressed with a clear intensity.
Yonah Wallachs (1944-85) was incessantly preoccupied with the nature and
cultural norms of language, and her poetry challenged all boundaries; it sought
to tear off the mask and displace deterministic structures inherent in culture
and society as well as to define new spaces for individuality and personal
When the political right wing, Likud, seized power from the Labor Party in
1977, it brought about some fundamental shifts in Israeli society. Likud was
supported by a broad layer of underrepresented, marginalized "mizrahim" (Jews
from North Africa and the Middle East) who were not part of the Zionist
metaphor, and their conquest of power led to a cultural monopoly and a challenge
to the notion of a homogeneous social construction..
The period after 1977 is therefore strongly marked by literature by or about
ethnic groups that had not previously been the subject of literary
representation. The very first works produced by Mizrahi writers were about
humiliations in the transit camps and were written in the tradition of social
Later, mizrahi prose writing has evolved towards a nuanced study of the
complexities associated with acculturation in Israeli society. Some of the most
recently written works have even transcended Israel's historical and
geographical boundaries and described Jewish life in Baghdad and Damascus before
the founding of the state. Works by Sami Michael (b. 1926), Eli Amir (b. 1937),
Shimon Balas (b. 1930), Amnon Shamosh (b. 1929) and Dan Benaya Seri (b. 1935)
have strengthened the mizrahi voice in Israeli literature..
Another minority in Israeli literature are the Israeli Arabs. Their literary
expression is generally Arabic, but gradually several have begun to write in
Hebrew. Significant Arabic writers include Anton Shamas (b. 1950), Itamar Levy
(b. 1956), and Emil Habibi (1921-96), who, despite writing in Arabic, received
the Israel Prize.
Also the religiously occupied literature, which had not been prominent in
Israeli literature since SY Agnon, reappeared in the 1990's; this time carried by
authors such as Dov Elbaum (b. 1970), Mira Magen (b. 1952), Hannah-Bat-Shahar
(b. 1944) and Michal Govrin (b. 1950), whose works revolve around religious
issues and deal with with the closed orthodox environments.
Up through the 1980's and 1990's, moreover, a reassessment of the nature of
fiction itself took place. This led to a strong experimentation within the
fictional genres, which began with Yaakov Shabtai's (1934-1981) novel Uninterrupted
Past (1977). The significance of this novel was first understood by the
succeeding generation of postmodernist writers; of these, the most significant
are the prominent David Grossman, the highly popular Meir Shalev, Yoel
Hoffman and Youval Shimoni (b. 1955).
The period further offered exceptional creativity and renewal within the
literary genres; elitist culture was equated with popular culture, elitist
language was equated with slang and clichés with religious allusions and a
number of new, popular literary genres found a place in Israeli literature: the
mystery, the thriller, science fiction, the spy and detective novel.
In the 1990's, a group of young writers working on texts, comics, animations,
television, video films and the Internet, and whose techniques are transferred
to their short stories and novels, have also made their mark. The group's most
popular author, Etgar Keret, is considered the most prominent representative of
postmodern culture in 1990's Israeli society.
Women’s literature and critical study of social gender exploded, so to speak,
in the 1980's. Female writers became among the most visible and creative voices
in Israeli fiction, each with its own unique approach to its area of focus,
such as Ronit Matalon (1959-2017). Dorit Rabinyan (b. 1972), Ruth Almog (b.
1936) and Savyon Liebrecht (b. 1948).
Orly Castel-Bloom is considered the boldest, most inventive and productive of
this generation of female writers; as a heretic, she was the first author to
begin to question everything that exists, is preached, and moves in Israeli
The beginning of the 21st century offers a group of well-formulated writers
who demand the rejection of the 1990's fragmentary language and action and a
return to a rich, poetic language. Among these Maya Arads (b. 1971). The
attitudes of some debuting writers are extremely radicalized: Michal Zamir's (b.
1964) debut novel thus bears a feminist stamp, while Alon Hilus' (b. 1972) debut
must be seen as an attempt to break down ingrained taboos in Israeli society
today, eg homosexuality.
Old Yiddish literature (1100-1850)
The oldest dated text in Yiddish is a rhyming dome from Worms' Mahzor (prayer
book) from 1272. Yiddish poetry begins to appear in the 1300's. in the form of
poems that retell biblical stories. Such verse narratives are preserved in the
oldest major Yiddish text, the so-called Cambridge Manuscript (1382),
which contains poems on Jewish historical topics, religious texts, and the
earliest version of a German epic, Dukus Hornat.
Very popular was an epic poem about Isaac's binding, Akedah, and Shmuel
Bukh (Samuel's Book), published in Augsburg in 1544. Two books from the
1500's. shows the wide range of older Yiddish literature: on the one hand Elija
Levitas Bove Bukh (1541), a free Yiddish version in the ottaverim of
the Italian romance Buovo d'Antona, and on the other Tsene Verene (Come
out and see, 1590 ' erne) by Yankev ben Jitskhok Ashkenazi, a retelling
of Tanak in a simple and lively style for women. It became so popular that it
came in over 200 editions. It consists of a mixture of narratives, midrashim,
and exegetical commentaries on sections of the book of Deuteronomy.
The famous Mayse Bukh, a collection of 257 tales, was first
published in Basel in 1602. Most of them are based on midrash and the Talmud,
others are loans from different cultures.
A prominent work rooted in an original Jewish tradition is the memoirs of the
author Glikl from Hameln (1645-1719), which give a lively and concise picture of
the Jewish community in Central Europe during her lifetime.
In the second half of the 1700's. became Yiddish exclusively the language of
the Eastern European Jews. Hasidism developed oral narratives and sentences in
Yiddish, which were gradually written down by scholars also in Hebrew. The
greatest of the Hasidic narrators is Rabbi Nahman of Bratislava, whose
narratives gained fame in Martin Buber's German translation and constitute
masterpieces in Jewish folklore.
Simultaneously with Hasidism in the east, the haskalah movement emerged in
the west. The majority of the haskalah writers wrote in Hebrew, some however in
Yiddish. For the first time, scientific works were published in Yiddish. But
haskalah and hasidism - two vastly different worldviews - clashed in bitter
enmity. Polemical writings against Hasidism were common.
Modern Yiddish literature (from 1850)
From the mid-1800's. flourished Eastern Yiddish by virtue of writers who in a
short period of time moved from the rationalism of the Enlightenment through
carnival-like parody to realism, naturalism and psychological impressionism,
finally avant-garde and modernism.
The classic writers include the satirist Mendele Mokher Seforim, the
"grandfather of modern Yiddish literature", and the humorist Shalom Aleichem,
who considered himself Mendele's student and spiritual grandson. His
incomparable depictions of the Shtetl sounds place him as one of the greatest
humorists in world literature.
The contemporary IL Peretz, who, like Mendele and Aleichem, also wrote in
Hebrew, was the first important romantic writer in Yiddish literature. His works
deal with Hasidic topics or are folk tales. Both stylistically and thematically,
he stood closer to modern European literature than his predecessors. Among the
best essayists is David Frischmann (1859-1922), who wrote in Yiddish and Hebrew
and preached "Europeanism" in his essays.
Several waves of immigration, taking their beginning after the pogroms in
Russia in 1881, brought Yiddish writers and readers to the United States,
Palestine, and Western Europe.
Early in the century, New York became a center of Yiddish literature, the
significance of which was surpassed only by Warsaw. To begin with,
American-Yiddish literature was dominated by poetry. Among the earliest, the
"Sweatshop poets" were a group that reacted to the pitiful living conditions of
the working class in the factories and became famous for their revolutionary
socialist protest songs.
The first known proletarian poet was Morris Winchevsky (1856-1932), followed
by the group's most prominent voice, Morris Rosenfeld (1862-1923) and the
anarchist David Edelstadt (1866-1892) and Josef Bovshover (1873-1915).
From its founding in 1907, the avant-garde literary group Di Yunge declared a
break with political proletarian poetry and, as the first in Yiddish literature,
cultivated "pure poetry"; the subtle rendering of emotional states in a concrete
The group's leading figures were Mani Leyb (1883-1953), poet of the city's
lost souls, whose influence on modern Yiddish poetry was enormous, Moyshe Leyb
Halpern (1886-1932), who wrote some of the most caustic American, Yiddish poems,
Zishe Landau (1889-1937) and Halper Leyvik (1888-1962).
The next generation of poets formed the group Di Inzikhistn (The
Introspectiveists), which continued and intensified Di Yunge's aestheticism and
published the journal In zikh (1919). The most important introspectivist poets
were Aaron Leyeles (1889-1966), Jacob Glatstein (Yankev Glatshteyn, 1896-1971)
and Yeuda Leyb Teller. Glatstein is today considered the most playful and
inventive form experimenter and one of the finest Yiddish poets of the 1900's.
Some of the best-known Yiddish literature comes from prose writers who
immigrated from Poland and settled in New York. Of all the disciples of IL
Peretz, Shalom Asch (1880-1957) became the most productive and famous. Josef
Opatoshu (1886-1954) contributed throughout his adult life, among other
things. to the daily newspaper Der tog, which was founded in New York in 1914.
Another immigrant from Poland, whose reputation preceded his arrival in the
United States, was Israel Joshua Singer (1893-1944), who in the 1930's and 1940's
created several significant, social novels about Jewish life in Europe.
When Singer died suddenly in 1944, his younger brother, Isaac Bashevis
Singer, stepped out of his shadow and into his big brother's shoes as a
contributor to the daily newspaper Forverts. IB Singer quickly gained attention
with the early, experimental Satan in Goraj, 1935 (da. 1995) and his subsequent
works. IB Singer is the most translated Yiddish author. In 1978, he received
the Nobel Prize in Literature.
In the Soviet Union and Poland, in the years following the Russian
Revolution and World War I, new directions in Yiddish literature emerged in
Kiev, Moscow and Warsaw (and also in Berlin). The literary activities were most
successful and fruitful in the 1920's, before Soviet restrictions made free
speech impossible, but nevertheless the Soviet Union remained a leading center
of Yiddish literature from the 1920's until 1941.
In August 1952, several significant Yiddish writers fell victim to the
Stalinist purges. Among these was the leading prose stylist and most important
modernist author in Yiddish literature, David Bergelson (1884-1952). Another
significant author from the period is the original symbolist Der Nister (The
Hidden, 1884-1950). Early in his career he translated selected fairy tales
by Hans Christian Andersen, since he used elements of folk tales in his
fiction; before the eclipse of censorship stifled the creativity of Soviet
writers, Soviet, Yiddish literature could exhibit unusual achievements in
poetry; David Hofshteyn's (1889-1952) lyrical verses, Moshe Kulbak's (1896-1937)
rhythmic innovations, Leyb Kvitkos' (1893-1952) enchanting children's poems,
Itzik Fefers' (1900-52) graceful verse art and Shmuel Halkins' (1897-1960)
In Warsaw, after the death of IL Peretz in 1915, a group of Yiddish writers
tried to fill the literary void by founding what they called the Writers'
Club. The older writers looked down on this group of young modernists, but it
was to add an unusual vitality to Yiddish literature.
Three of the young modernists, Uri Zvi Grinberg, Peretz Markish (1895-1952)
and Melekh Ravitsh (1893-1976) formed the avant-garde, poetic group, Di
Khaliastre (Slænget, 1920-22). The three friends came to go in different
geographical and aesthetic directions, but for a brief moment, the group's
exuberant use of expressionist techniques posed an anti-aesthetic challenge in
In Lithuania, in the 1930's, the poet group Yunge Vilne (Young Vilna) was
formed, fighting for political renovation and against social injustice. Among
the members of the group was Chaim Grade (1910-82), who in the 1930's published
several highly esteemed collections of poems, but who, after surviving the
Holocaust, settled in New York and went on to write short stories.
Another is Abraham Sutzkever (1913-2010); possibly the most important Yiddish
writer living in Israel. When he started publishing Yiddish poetry in the 1930's,
he was attached to Yunge Vilne, but in 1943 he had to flee the Vilna ghetto and
subsequently wrote poems about his experiences there and about the Nazi
genocide. He also wrote one of the strongest memoirs of Lithuania. In 1947 he
immigrated to Palestine, from where he, as editor of the journal Di goldende
keyt (The Golden Chain, 1949-96), began work to promote Yiddish, literary
culture in Israel and around the world. Other influential Yiddish writers in the
first decades after the founding of Israel were Rikudah Potash (1903-65), Leyb
Rokhman (1918-78), Yosel Birshteyn (1920-2003) and Zvi Kanar (1931-2009).
The large-scale immigration from the Soviet Union/Russia in the 1980's and
1990's gave Yiddish literature a new encouraging turn. In 1992, a group of Soviet
immigrants created the literary almanac on behalf of Naye (New Paths). The
journal Chulyot (Bindeled) was founded in 1990, is written in Hebrew, but is
devoted to the study of Yiddish literature.
Toplpunkt (Kolon) is a literary magazine launched in 2000 in Tel Aviv. The
contributors are active Yiddish poets and fiction writers, most of whom are
educated in Moscow, such as Lev Berinsky (b. 1939), Velvl Chernin (b. 1948),
Moshe Lemster (b. 1948) and Boris Sandler (b. 1950).
Israel - theater
The first Hebrew-speaking theater group in Palestine was established in Jaffa
in 1907. In the beginning, the Hebrew theater was a tool to promote the rebirth
of the biblical language as an everyday language. In 1932, the Jewish theater
group Habima, established in Moscow, moved to Palestine; this later became
Israel's national theater, and its style of play dominated the Hebrew theater
until the end of World War II. In 1926, the trade union movement established the
Ohel Theater, which performed performances with a social and national aim. In
1944, the Cameri Theater emerged in response to Habima's declamatory,
Russian-style playing style and repertoire, which rarely dealt with contemporary
problems. 1948 Cameri staged the first play written by a native Israeli, Moshe
Shamirs He walked across the fields. In the 1960's, Haifa's municipal
theater emerged, which became crucial to Israeli drama. In 1970, the Jerusalem
Theater opened, which became the setting for the guest performances of the
Until the Six-Day War in 1967, Israeli theater remained within the national
consensus. Often it showed greater consideration for the social pedagogical
content of the play than for artistic quality and professionalism. However, the
war and the occupation of the Palestinian territories led to a crisis that the
theater reflected. Haifa's municipal theater in particular produced debate -
creating, socially critical performances, a trend that intensified in the
1970's. In the 1990's, special emphasis is placed on the professional quality of
the performances, e.g. stimulated by the Russian theater group Gesher, which
moved from Moscow to Tel Aviv in 1991, and which today performs in Hebrew at
home and abroad.
Israel - dance
Israel has several popular Jewish dance traditions, influenced by dances
including from the Balkans and Yemen. During the 1900-t. arose a large number of
so-called Israeli folk dances created on the basis of dance traditions brought
from Eastern and Southeastern Europe as well as Yemen. Some dances came into
being spontaneously, others were the result of conscious choreographic
processing and the creation.
An actual stage dance originated in the 1920's, when the Russian ballerina
Rika Nikova created her company in Jerusalem, but the dance developed rapidly in
various ways. Middle Eastern dance and decidedly modern dance, not least
inspired by Martha Graham, were two directions, just as folk dance traditions
with biblical themes reached the theater stage. Various companies emerged: In
1949, Sara Levi-Tanai (1911-2005) created the Yemeni Inbal Dance Theater, and in
1964, Bethsabee de Rothschild established the Batsheva Dance Company, which
remains the country's leading modern company. In 1967, Rothschild also created
the classical-modern Bat-Dor Dance Company, and the same year, Berta Yampolsky
and Hillel Markman established the classical ensemble Israel Ballet.
In the 1990's, Israeli dance flourished, not least thanks to internationally
renowned choreographers such as Ohad Naharin, Itzik Galili and Rami Be'er; the
latter's Loops and Homeless were danced in 1995 by Nyt Dansk
Israel - music life
The Israeli music life is highly developed according to European and American
pattern with institutions, publishers, music associations, etc. It is the result
of a development that goes back to the 1920's, when Jews of Eastern European
descent began to establish a musical life in Palestine.
A Palestinian Symphony Orchestra was established in Tel Aviv in 1936; in 1949
it changed its name to the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and has since achieved
status as one of the world's leaders.
Immigration waves in the 1930's and around 1990 brought well-educated European
musicians and composers to the area, and this, like frequent visits by
world-famous Jewish artists from Europe and the United States, has been crucial
to the development of Israel's musical life.
The country's music institutions include the Israel Music Institute, which
serves as a publishing house and promotes contemporary Israeli composers; among
them, Tzvi Avni (b. 1927) has made an international mark.
An actual Jewish folk music can not be defined. Traditional Hebrew-Oriental
religious music has been able to be collected, while a popular folk music style
did not appear until the 1900's. has been deliberately developed; it included
in the socialist-inspired music culture of the kibbutzim. Features from
ethnic music shine through in Israeli pop music that has had some international
Israel's wine production began with Jewish immigration in the late 1800's. In
1882, vineyards were established with financial support from Baron Edmond de
Rothschild, and French grape varieties such as carignan, grenache and alicante were
planted in Richon le Zion, whose large cooperative makes 2/3 of
the country's wine. Modern technology was introduced in the 1980's in the cool
Golan, where Baron Cellars and Golan Heights produce fine wines on the grapes cabernet and chardonnay. Israel's
annual production is approximately 20 mio. bottles, especially slightly sweet wines
characterized by the brand Carmel. In 1995, the grape area was 5000 ha, half of
which was used for table grapes.