Bird Tracks in the Sand

The Search for God in Contemporary Israeli Poetry (Part 3)

Rabbi Sharon Cohen-Anisfeld

It has long been considered a truism that Israeli society is deeply divided between "hilonim" and "dati'im" -- between secular and religious Jews.  Unlike the North American Jewish community, where there are countless options for communal affiliation and personal practice and belief, the religious landscape in Israel has been seen as largely black-and-white, with little room for "shades of gray". While the secular-religious divide persists -- often with a good deal of mutual hostility -- in many aspects of Israeli social and political life, a more nuanced picture can be seen in the writing of contemporary Israeli poets over the last several decades.  Many self-identified "secular" writers wrestle deeply in their poetry with their relationship to Jewishness, to the legacy of the Bible and rabbinic texts, and to the personal search for God. Through a close reading of selected poems, we will explore the religious struggles of these secular writers and consider how they might speak to our own experiences of faith and doubt in the post-modern era.

Third of four lectures in our 2016 Fall Series, "Faith and Doubt in the Modern World."