Beyond Political Messianism: The Poetry of Second-Generation of Religious Zionist Settlers

Beyond Political Messianism: The Poetry of Second-Generation of Religious Zionist Settlers

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David C. Jacobson

Series: Israel: Society, Culture, and History
ISBN: 9781934843727 (hardcover)
Pages: 292 pp.
Publication Date: June 2011

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In recent decades, a group of second-generation religious Zionist West Bank settlers have turned away from the collectivist political messianic ideology of the first generation of settlers and have begun to explore poetry as a mode of individual self-expression. Based on interviews of eight key figures in this new trend and an analysis of fifty works by these poets, Beyond Political Messianism: The Poetry of Second-Generation Religious Zionist Settlers tells the story of how they revolutionized the religious Zionist settler culture by moving poetry into the mainstream of that culture, and how they introduced into the world of secular Israeli literature images and language styles drawn from their lives as religiously observant Jews. Among the themes central to these poets’ concerns are: the formation of a religious identity based on faith and ritual observance, the relationship of the contemporary Jew to the Bible and to traditional Jewish texts, appropriate ways to write about erotic experiences, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.


David C. Jacobson (PhD University of California, Los Angeles) is Professor of Judaic Studies at Brown University. His publications include Creator, Are You Listening?: Israeli Poets on God and Prayer (Indiana University Press, 2007); Modern Midrash:  The Retelling of Traditional Jewish Narratives by Twentieth-Century Hebrew Writers  (State University of New York Press, 1987); Does David Still Play Before You?: Israeli Poetry and the Bible (Wayne State University Press, 1997); Palestinian Identities in History and Literature, ed. (with Kamal Abdel-Malek Israeli, New York: St. Martin's Press, 1999); and History and Literature: New Readings of Jewish Texts in Honor of Arnold J. Band (with William Cutter, Brown Judaic Studies, 2002).


In lucid writing and armed with depths of understanding and knowledge, David C. Jacobson leads his reader into an exploration of Jewish thought rooted in the teachings of Rabbi Avraham Yitzhak Kook and his son Rabbi Zvi Yehuda Kook and their disciples. Against this background, Jacobson explains the framework of the new poetic phenomenon which has grown at the very heart of the religious Zionist community, an ideological and political movement which largely held back from poetic activity from its inception. The writer invites his reader, indeed all of us, to a challenging experience – of thought and poetry blended together.
— Avinoam Rosenak, Professor of Jewish Thought, Hebrew University, Jerusalem