While American Judaism Becomes More Fragmented, Israeli Judaism Is Becoming Less So

A generation or two ago, writes Moshe Koppel, the denominational divisions among American Jews—between Conservative and Modern Orthodox, for example, or Modern Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox, did not cut so deeply as they do now. Yet that has changed as the non-Orthodox denominations have gone into decline and Orthodox institutions have proliferated; today, adherents can spend their lives in the confines of their particular ideological sub-group. In Israel, by contrast, the opposite has happened, as once-ironclad divisions among the secular, religious Zionist, and ultra-Orthodox have begun to break down:

[Secular and religious Zionist youths] meet in the army and at work and they speak to each other with typical Israeli candidness, free of both rancor and the kind of reserve that typically stems from distance or mistrust. Increasingly, [ultra-Orthodox] kids are participating in these conversations as well; as soon as a technical solution is found to the problem of ḥaredi enlistment [in the military], the gap between them and the others will close very quickly.

In short, the boxes are breaking down in Israel. This has two salient consequences, each of which is only now beginning to become apparent. The first is that the question “are you ḥiloni [secular] or dati [religious] or ḥaredi [ultra-Orthodox]?” is, for many people, becoming hard to answer. Increasingly, degrees of Jewish observance in Israel lie on a spectrum, not in the familiar boxes, slowly converging to a normal distribution over the range, with a peak somewhere in the center that drops off slowly and symmetrically. (One consequence of this is long tails on each end populated by loud and strident outliers, giving the false impression that extremists are getting stronger.)

The second consequence is that the usual bundlings of ideologies, religious practices, and outward signals are unraveling. [Israelis] became accustomed to the idea that if they knew how someone dressed or how he acted in a given situation or where he went to yeshiva, they could pretty much guess all the rest. Forget that. The flourishing of a Jewish state and the confidence it has brought are leading to a new and surprising realignment.

Read more at Judaism without Apologies

More about: American Judaism, Judaism, Judaism in Israel, Religion & Holidays

The IDF’s First Investigation of Its Conduct on October 7 Is Out

For several months, the Israel Defense Forces has been investigating its own actions on and preparedness for October 7, with an eye to understanding its failures. The first of what are expected to be many reports stemming from this investigation was released yesterday, and it showed a series of colossal strategic and tactical errors surrounding the battle at Kibbutz Be’eri, writes Emanuel Fabian. The probe, he reports, was led by Maj. Gen. (res.) Mickey Edelstein.

Edelstein and his team—none of whom had any involvement in the events themselves, according to the IDF—spent hundreds of hours investigating the onslaught and battle at Be’eri, reviewing every possible source of information, from residents’ WhatsApp messages to both Israeli and Hamas radio communications, as well as surveillance videos, aerial footage, interviews of survivors and those who fought, plus visits to the scene.

There will be a series of further reports issued this summer.

IDF chief Halevi in a statement issued alongside the probe said that while this was just the first investigation into the onslaught, which does not reflect the entire picture of October 7, it “clearly illustrates the magnitude of the failure and the dimensions of the disaster that befell the residents of the south who protected their families with their bodies for many hours, and the IDF was not there to protect them.” . . .

The IDF hopes to present all battle investigations by the end of August.

The IDF’s probes are strictly limited to its own conduct. For a broader look at what went wrong, Israel will have to wait for a formal state commission of inquiry to be appointed—which happens to be the subject of this month’s featured essay in Mosaic.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Gaza War 2023, IDF, Israel & Zionism, October 7