Faculty of Arts


Special Topic in Theological and Religious Studies


In this course we will examine the role of religion and religious practice in Israeli society. We will explore religious and spiritual beliefs and institutions attempting to make sense of Israeli cultural systems. Following the scholarship of anthropologists Clifford Geertz, John Bowen and sociologists Yair Peled and James Beckford, we will examine clusters of symbols that represent values, ideas and lifestyle. We will discover how Jewish religious traditions have impacted social and political institutions such as the courts, education and local economy.

Students will take part in a weekly debate on topics such as Jewish identity, state versus religion, ethnicity and education. Students will be encouraged to make comparisons with their own cultures and religious identity. We will read ethnographic studies on the evolution of the Hill Youth fundamentalist movement, the Russian spiritual secularist society and other Neo-Zionist and Messianic movements within Israeli politics.

Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of this course, students should:

  • Have developed the skills necessary to discuss topics in Judaism and Jewish identity in an informed way.
  • Have developed an understanding of the politics of religion and the impact of religion on society.
  • Be able to engage with, critique, or religious understandings of beliefs and spiritual identity in modern culture.
  • Show a knowledge of and ability to engage critically with different methodological approaches to researching religion and spirituality.
  • Become familiar with some of the scholarly literature concerning Judaism as a religion that has been written by local, national and international scholars.
  • Have been shown some of the skills required well-written and well-argued essay, as well as presenting and debating within an academic forum.


Coursework only 

View the course syllabus

Availability 2020

Semester 2


Lecturer(s)  Orna Weinroth


Recommended Reading



THEOREL 208: 15.0 points


30 points at Stage I from BA Schedule



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