CU Lecture on Religious Zionism: History, Impact, Relevance

Bezalel Smotrich (center), the leader of the far-right Religious Zionist Party, and Itamar Ben Gvir, Israel’s current Minister of National Security
Head of the Tkuma party MK Bezalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben Gvir of the far right Otzma Yehudit party seen during an election campaign tour at the Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem on March 19, 2021. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

Public Lecture by Prof. Kimmy Caplan
Wednesday, February 15, 2023
6:00 – 7:30 pm (MT)
See in-person information and Zoom registration here. 

Religion and State are intertwined in the State of Israel since its establishment, and the “official” Jewish religion to the degree it is relevant is Orthodox-oriented. The two main religious societies are the Religious Zionist and the Ultra-Orthodox. The former holds a theologically positive, at times messianic approach toward the state while the latter are ambivalent. Religious Zionism thus strove to impact the political and public square and until the 1970s was a heterogeneous group yet with strong common threads between its various sub-groups. This changed gradually and dramatically since the 1970s, to the point we can doubt the relevance of this term in scholarly discourse. Religious Zionism is divided into several sub-groups which have very little in common, if at all. In his presentation, Prof. Caplan offers an overview of this process and its importance to understanding contemporary Israeli society.

Kimmy Caplan teaches at the Israel and Golda Koschitzky Department of Jewish History and Contemporary Jewry, Bar-Ilan University. His field of scholarly interest is Jewish religious history in the 19th and 20th centuries, and specific topics include religious streams, popular religion, preaching and homiletics. His biography of Amram Blau, founder and leader of the extreme anti-Zionist Ultra-Orthodox group Neturei Karta appeared in 2017 and won the 2018 prize of the Association for Israel Studies. A volume on contemporary Israeli Ultra-Orthodox society co-edited with Nissim Leon is scheduled to appear later this year with Routledge, and he is currently writing a book on the Yoselle Schuchmakher Affair that shocked Israeli society in the early 1960s.

About CU Boulder Program in Jewish Studies

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