The substitution after the creation of Israel of the term "Israeli Culture" for that of "Hebrew Culture," which had been the accepted term during the pre-state period, expresses a transformation in the culture itself. Not only did the political and social institutions of cultural life change, so did the way of life, the patterns of human relationships and the ways in which these were expressed. As a result, the understanding of the nature and function of culture, and of spiritual creation, as uniting and identifying processes, likewise changed. These processes are no longer perceived as the central factor identifying one national society or people. As for the society as a whole, people no longer seek within the framework of nationality all their spiritual needs and the expression of their "self" as individuals.
Thus the totality of individual and group creation is no longer understood within the monistic framework of national culture. Rather it is perceived as composed of many different compartments, including the national, the religious and the national-religious, which are not necessarily open and accessible to one another. In place of a type of national society and culture, which seek integration, there comes a broad gamut of partial identities and belongings. Not only various communities, ethnic groups or movements, but even single individuals can identify partially with several of these, choosing their own "piece" at will (how young people love the expression "this piece" ha-keta ha-zeh as a form of expression typifying their way of thinking!).
In other words, the individual no longer entirely defines his/her identity within the realm of nationalism, or even of religiosity. This definition has been moved over to the instrumental and organizational framework of the material culture, described in the universal political terms of the state. This is, in fact, the significance of "Israeliness," which for the majority of those who identify themselves as "Israelis" connotes civil political-linguistic-territorial belonging. This usually incorporates a certain measure of "Hebraism" as well as of "Judaism," in the religious, traditional or national sense, but these factors are generally partial and fragmented. Even when found at the core of personal identity, they are liable to be limited, marginalized, or externalized in friendly relation or hostility to the identity of others in the nation. They might even disappear entirely, leaving in their wake, only a hazy memory of "origin."

Emergence of a Fragmented Israeli Culture

This was the dialectic result of the establishment of the state. A dialectic result was quite clearly not the intention of the founders, who after "two thousand years of Exile" created a Jewish state to be based on Hebrew culture. The state was called "Israel" after the ancient name of people, for which in turn the land was named, to indicate a distinct cultural and national identity. According to the Declaration of Independence, Israel was intended to be not only "the state of the Jews" but also "a Jewish state." Laws were thus introduced shaping a policy of ingathering of exiles and their social-cultural integration, of Jewish-national education, and of the shaping of a Jewish public realm. Moreover, in its early years, the state functioned as a "melting pot," whose purpose was to forge an inclusive cultural-national identity on the basis of the tradition of "Hebrew culture" from the pre-state period.
However, the result of this process was just the opposite. In practice, it focused on the establishment of a modern Israeli "statehood" (mamlakhtiyut), in which priority was given to national security and economic progress. The unifying national message focused upon the immediate work at hand: the establishment of state institutions and their efficient functioning, mainly requiring knowledge and expertise drawn from external rather than traditional Jewish sources.
Against this background and in an era of mass immigration within the formal education frameworks there began a process of voluntary rehabilitation of the cultural, religious, traditional, and ethnic or modern-national heritages brought by the immigrants from different backgrounds. Simultaneously, young people who had been born and educated in the state sought their identities at a growing distance from their parents' old-fashioned cultural sources. Thus, the effort to integrate and to unite the people within the melting pot of a national state culture led to the decline of the pre-state culture and the emergence of a multicompartmentalized and fragmented Israeli culture.
For the most part, the mass aliya rejected the Hebrew culture of the pre-state community as alien, inadequate and irrelevant. Among the reasons for this culture's demise was the vast size of this aliya, not only in the sense that within a few years Israel's Jewish population doubled in size. More importantly, each aliya created a sociocultural reality of uprooted masses of people whose cultural memories had been suppressed and denied expression during the traumatic process of absorption. They were unable in this period to confront the cultural influences of the absorbing society, beyond assimilating certain material elements and passively accepting the secular values and norms that accompanied them.

Zionism as the Official Ideology

The Hebrew pre-state culture had been developed by the main streams within Zionism (socialist-Zionism, general Zionism, nationalistic-Zionism and religious Zionism) under the influence of European nationalism and socialism of the first half of the twentieth century. Embodying European patterns, these were expressed in the revived Hebrew language and on the background of layers of Jewish literary, traditional and historical heritage.
The shift of influence from Europe to the United States, in the post-modernist period following the Second World War, effected a sweeping transformation. Albeit, for nearly a generation, Zionism remained the ideology that shaped the official identity of the State of Israel, despite the fact that during that period it had actually changed from a controversial minority ideology to a general Jewish consensus. With the traumatic memories of the Holocaust, Zionism, as realized within the state, became the central symbol of Jewish unity and identity, and the accepted ideology among all those Jews who related positively to their Jewishness. It was only later that hard questions began to be asked about the relevance of Zionism in the era of "state-ism" (mamlackhtiyut).
After the creation of the State of Israel, Zionism in effect also became the official ideology of the general state education system. Its program included settlement, the creation of Hebrew culture, and the establishment of an ideal Israeli society. Zionism became a declaration of faith. Conscription into the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), including extended reserve duty, was taken for granted. Zionism also involved solidarity with the Jewish people, accepting emotional responsibility for the lot of the people after the Holocaust, loyal citizenship of the state, and a sympathetic attitude toward, the social absorption of the aliya.
Americanization gradually replaced the old socialist ideology. From the beginning of the 1960s, there began a change in the socioeconomic policy, accentuated after the Six-Day War. The socialist policy retreated and its institutions (like the Histadrut and the kibbutz) collapsed. In their place was created the economic-social foundation required for the individualistic competitive ethos and other characteristics of American mass culture, and particularly of youth culture. In terms of the Jewish characteristic of Israeli culture, there developed a type of assimilation that strives to obscure all unique characteristics of modern national identity. Only self-enclosed, sectarian religious factors, lacking influence on the cultural periphery within which they are mixed and alienated, retained some legitimacy.

Education for Values

The greatest theoretical and practical effect was felt in the realm of education, particularly in the educational philosophy of the general state school system, embracing all but the national religious and ultra-orthodox schools. The functions of cultural-value socialization of its students-what is known as the "passing down of heritage"-were renounced.
Schools failed to convey a cultural-historic perspective, a feeling of belonging and rootedness of the individual in the culture of his origins: his family, his community and his people. The formulation of an overall personal-social world view that presents the individual with binding and meaningful ideals of human life was no longer encouraged.
As students get older, more importance is attributed to messages of "instruction" (not education!), of "knowledge" and "expertise," whose main purpose is professional socialization on the basis of individual choice, while diminishing the heritage-oriented study framework. The educational philosophy of the high school and university is thus primarily directed to preparing students for the competitive race that awaits them in their adult life in accordance with their specific choices, and of course within the framework of the expectations of the marketplace. The personal competitive motivation overrides that of solidarity and belonging.
Accordingly, there inevitably emerges a serious problem in the realms of social and spiritual values, and of identity. The school curriculum itself and its manner of instruction, including the teaching of "humanistic" and "Judaic" subjects, are conveyed as collections of information and as professional disciplines. "Education for values" is then added as yet another subject in its own right. Thus, even subjects like Bible, history, Hebrew language and literature, oral law (Torah) and Jewish thought, as well as Zionism and "education for democracy" are not seen as the main instructional function of the school, but as matters of secondary importance. Any relation to the society and the people, to history and to cultural heritage, or to any vision of a people or of mankind is likewise exclusively understood from the individual utilitarian-functional viewpoint.
Obviously, the issue of the "Jewish identity" of students in the general school system falls into the framework of "education for values." At least once every decade, complaints are heard about the educational failures of the general school. Jewish education is said to be too weak and student identification with the Jewish people and with Zionism is superficial. In particular, it is claimed that the problem of yerida emigration from Israel) is not tackled, nor is a basis created for understanding with Jews of the Diaspora and with new immigrants. Youth does not receive sufficiently convincing answers to existential questions. They would ask: why do we need to carry the burden of responsibility for the realization of Zionism, and to sacrifice precious years of my life in military service, when the message of the school is consistently directed towards the ideal of individual "self-realization"?

"Civil Religion"

In the political and legal realms, the question of the Jewish identity of the State of Israel has been primarily discussed in the context of the status of established religion in a secular democracy, and the issue of the status of non-Orthodox Jewish religious movements in the state ("Jewish pluralism"). However, the stormy and prolonged social-cultural debates on these issues changed into a Kulturkampf shaping the nature of Israeli-Jewish society.
Due to Knesset legislation, the following cultural characteristics are found in the public domain: Hebrew as the official national language; respect for the Hebrew calendar, its Sabbaths, holidays and other dates, and their observation by state institutions, the army, and so on; respect for the demands of kashrut (Jewish dietary law) by institutions of the state, the army, and others; commitment by the state to provide for the religious needs of the population through synagogues, religious institutions, and other establishments.
By virtue of Knesset legislation, halachic (Jewish law) norms shape the definition of individual Jewish identity, with regard to both acceptance, conversion and registration as Jews, and family laws pertaining to marriage and divorce. Central symbolic ceremonies express the belonging of the individual to the entity: circumcision, bar/bat mitzvah, marriage, burial and mourning, or the placing of a mezuza upon the doors of one's home. All these may be defined as a "civic religion" or secular tradition.
These ceremonies of "civil religion" have a certain impact upon everyday consciousness of belonging to a people and a state. Moreover, non-religious Jewish family life typically draws upon further signs of tradition, particularly folkloristic elements and those of Sabbaths and festivals, which in varying degrees become part of the cultural milieu. However, the ceremonies of civic religion are increasingly understood as an external, coercive presence, which are at best conformed to, in many cases with open non-willingness and with a feeling of having no option, or are rejected. Also, the choice of those signs that are willingly adopted to mark the milieu of the Sabbath and festivals bear less relation to a tradition that is rooted in religion, and more to folklore, a mass or folk culture. It is hence clear that the secular milieu created in this manner through the use of traditional materials removes itself progressively from uniquely religious meanings, without even being aware of them.
The rebellion against the imposed nature of religious symbols and norms-in particular the growing feeling of contradiction among halachic norms imposed upon the general public by of the Rabbinate-result in a stormy "cultural war."
Thus far, obligatory acquiescence by individuals and in public life in Israel was bolstered by three factors:
• A sense of responsibility towards preserving the unity of the people, particularly as long as the feeling of a security threat against the State of Israel continued.
• Political considerations rooted in the party structure of the government.
• The fact that most members of the first and second generations of those who immigrated after the establishment of the state remained traditional, even when they become part of the "general" (that is non-religious) sector of the Jewish public.

Separating Religion and State

During the past decade a dramatic change has been felt as regards these factors. This has resulted from the coming of age of a new generation of young Israelis educated in the general school system, whose attitude to the contents of traditional Judaism differs substantially from that of their parents. Another factor is the mass immigration from the states of the former Soviet Union, and most of these immigrants have neither knowledge of nor connection to Jewish life of any sort. Thirdly, the peace process made it appear for some time as if there was no longer a sense of external threat hanging over the State of Israel, with the accompanying need to assure pan-Jewish unity at any cost. In contrast, a highly polarized debate flared up concerning the issue of peace and "greater Israel." As this confrontation tends to take place between the religious-Zionist and the secular public, it also weakened the sense of Jewish unity.
Likewise, the positive attitude towards tradition has become weakened among most members of the second generation of immigrants from eastern lands. Protest and opposition to religious coercion in the name of democratic values and individual freedom have become stronger. Meanwhile, religious legislation is supported almost exclusively by the religious public and some political leaders, but not by the majority of spiritual leaders and non-religious educators.
Despite the continued existence of "religious legislation" ("status quo"), and the desire in some religious circles to extend it, obedience to religious laws is progressively weakening. The Jewish and Israeli public domain have become more and more secularized, a feature felt particularly on the Sabbath and during festivals. Opposition to religious legislation has become a central tenet in the new ideology that has come to displace Zionism as the defining ideology of secular Israeli identity. The new ideology styles itself as "post-Zionist"-apathetic towards national and religious values as such, but intensely opposed to them as values meant to shape the image of the state. Priority is given to the values of democracy and freedom of the individual, one's dignity and happiness, as universal values. Hence, this ideology is presented to the Israeli Jewish public, not only as an "option" for a new cultural identity beyond Judaism and Zionism, but as an exclusive and all-encompassing form of identity staunchly opposed to the continued definition of Israel as a Jewish-Zionist state.
Secular Jews demanded satisfactory solutions to the issues of personal identity, conversion and family life, sensitive issues for the non-religious public and to which religious halacha did not give adequate responses. It was assumed that it would be possible to find appropriate solutions without damaging the Jewish and Zionist identity of Israel per se, and without denying the status of the Jewish religion as an influential factor in society and culture.

A Contemporary Secular Culture

The pre-state Jewish national community which defined itself as secular (hiloni) or as "free thinking," attributed importance to the religious definition of Judaism only in so far as one related to religious Jews as members of one's people. Their specific definitions of Jewishness was rejected.
Thus, for the non-religious, whatever they did and created, including elements borrowed from other cultures, was seen as their own "Judaism." Had all that the Israeli created been considered "Jewish," while all that the "Jew" did be considered "Israeli," they could have found their own way towards the sources and history of Jewishness. But once a reality was created in which Israeliness came to be considered as something outside of Jewishness, while Jewishness was viewed as being outside of Israeliness, this dichotomy became unavoidable for different types both of religionists and secularists.
Both "Israeliness" and "Judaism" became things unto themselves. The two may indeed make peace with and complement one another but they may also entirely contradict one another. For the secular Jewish identity is understood, at best, as a marginal compartment within a multi-storied culture and personality, most of whose compartments are non-Jewish and tend to be in the surrounding cultural environment, Western or Eastern. Hence, they identify as American, French, or Israeli, more than they do as Jews.
One cannot ignore that postmodern Western culture, which developed following the Second World War and is the source of post-Zionist and post-Jewish thinking in Israel, expresses a universal syndrome in modern Western culture. Its dominant ideology requires assimilation into the "global village." This ideology does not ascribe any importance to national and religious traditions, even though these traditions are once more struggling bravely for their existence. The academic elite, particularly the technocratic and communication elite, are abandoning these traditions and striding towards a vision of a cosmopolitan secular culture, always contemporary and always prepared for futuristic changes. These inevitably transform all forms of cultural identity into something transient, external and exchangeable.
We are witnessing a strong and continuous tendency to be swept along by the materialistic and individualistic-selfish values of the culture of a "society of abundance" ceaselessly imported from the United States. Unless there is a reorientation in Israeli education in the direction of transmitting the cultural heritage and expression of our own cultural identity, the split between an encapsulated Orthodox Jewish religious culture and a secular Israeli culture alienated from its Jewish sources will become unequivocal.