01 February 2012

Israeli Secular Culture

When the Spies returned from touring the Land of Israel (Num. 13:32), they said, "It is a Land that consumes its inhabitants."
But yoshveiha - 'its inhabitants' - can also be translated as 'those who sit still in it'.

That, right there, explains the differences between Israeli and American secular culture.
In America, if you want to be secular, you can put your feet up on the table and be secular. No problem. The land offers no resistance.
Americans assume that this is true in Israel as well. It is not.

In Israel, if you want to be secular, you are working against the laws of nature. It is like trying to defy gravity. If you have a spiritual bad hair day, you feel the horizon itself trying to put you back in order.
Israeli secular culture, such as it is, is dizzying, noisy, and more uncomfortable than most, because being secular in Israel requires so much concentrated effort.

There is a certain Israeli author who - at least a few years ago - was immensely popular among Israeli youth because, they said, 'they feel that his stories accurately represent their world.'
What kind of author would American youth pick out as one who accurately represents their world?
(Probably one who says I a lot...) Probably one whose characters spend a lot of time in their own minds... have honestly-expressed emotional ups and downs... get a thrill out of seeing beautiful things or places.
What kind of author do Israeli youth pick out as one who accurately represents their world?
One whose genre is magical realism. His stories are about people impersonating G-d and angels crash-landing on rooftops. At least one of them takes place after death.
This is the world of secular Israeli youth.

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