Are You Our Sisters? Resistance, Belonging, and Recognition among Israeli Reform Jewish Female Converts

Einat Libel-Hass, Elazar Ben-Lulu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The religious conversion process is a significant expression of an individual’s intention to gain a new religious identity and be included in a particular religious community. Those who wish to join the Jewish people undergo giyur (conversion), which includes observing rituals and religious practices. While previous research on Jewish conversions in Israel focused on the experiences of persons who converted under Orthodox auspices, this study analyzes the experiences of female immigrants from the former Soviet Union (FSU) and the Philippines who chose to convert through the Reform Movement in Israel. Based on qualitative research, we discovered that the non-Orthodox process, which is based on liberal values, not only grants converts under the aegis of Reform entry to the Jewish people, but promotes their affiliation with the Reform Movement and advances their acculturation into Jewish Israeli society. Their choice is a political decision, an act of resistance against an Orthodox Israeli religious monopoly, and an expression of spiritual motivations. The converts become social agents who strengthen the Reform Movement’s socio-political position in Israel, where it struggles against discrimination. Furthermore, since most converts are women, new intersections between religion, gender, and nationality are exposed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)131-157
Number of pages27
JournalPolitics and Religion Journal
Volume18
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
©2024 Authors. Center for Study of Religion and Religious Tolerance, Belgrade, Serbia.

Keywords

  • Conversion
  • Gender
  • Identity
  • Immigrants
  • Israel
  • Reform Judaism

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