Education in Israel

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.

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).


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%

COIN: shekel




POPULATION COMPOSITION: Jews 80%, Palestinians 20%

GDP PER residents: $ 18406 (2007)

LIFE EXPECTANCY: men 77 years, women 81 years (2007)




Israel is 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.

  • Find two-letter abbreviation for each independent country and territory, such as IL which stands for Israel.

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 marginalized.

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 the Knesset.

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 development.

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 benefits.

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. Check youremailverifier for Israel social condition facts.

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 residents

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 nature.

Israel (Military)

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 development.

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.

Visual art

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 Henri Rousseau.

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 dominant figures.

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.

Jewish literature

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 belong.

Hebrew literature

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 halakah.

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 Hebrew.

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 Greek.

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 traditional Judaism.

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 beyond.

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 actual philosophy.

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 (approximately 1240-1305).

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 philosophy.

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 reactionaries did.

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 literature.”

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, not weakness.

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 values.


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 1933.

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 existentialism.

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 freedom.

1970’s-2000 onwards

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 anger.

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 society.

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.

Yiddish literature

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 everyday life.

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) emotional musicality.

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 Yiddish literature.

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 permanent theaters.

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 Danseteater.

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 impact.

Israel (Wine)

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.

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