In preparing a session on the place of Israel in the study of media and religion for the Working Group on Jews, Media, and Religion, Jeffrey Shandler suggested that the discussion "could begin in any of a number of places: the role of media in religious life in contemporary Israel; media images of religion in the land of Israel, past and present (including images created elsewhere); and Israeli scholars studying religion and media issues." He mentioned interesting pre-state films, from Edison shorts ca. 1903 to American Zionist propaganda films, which offer images of religious life (Jewish, Christian, Muslim) worth looking at together. Edna Nahshon, who had agreed to lead this session, suggested that we screen Eyshet cohen / The Cohen's wife, which was made in 2000 at the Ma'aleh School of Television, Film, and the Arts. This proved to be very fruitful, particularly since a substantial article on Ma'aleh had just appeared:
Jackobson, David C. 2004. The Ma'ale School: Catalyst for the entrance of religious Zionists into the world of media production. Israel Studies 9, 1: 31-60.
Online access through Project Muse. NYU users click here:
We would like to collaborate with colleagues in Israel, where much work is being done on media and religion, and hope to develop this Unit with their help.
Haredi engagement with media is a Modiya Unit in its own right:
Semiannual academic journal dealing with the Israeli and Jewish media worldwide. Published in Hebrew, with detailed abstracts in English, by The Andrea and Charles Bronfman Center for the Media of the Jewish People at Tel Aviv University.
Jewish Media Resources
"Jewish Media Resources is a leading media organization dedicated to furthering an understanding of Torah Judaism. Jewish Media Resources works with foreign journalists stationed in Israel and with local journalists by providing access to leading figures within the Orthodox Jewish community in Israel, and with information and insights about the community. Jonathan Rosenblum, director of Jewish Media Resources, also serves as an English-language spokesman for the Orthodox Jewish community with foreign journalists."
Religion in the Israeli News
Cohen, Yoel. 1999. On the beat: Covering Israel's religion wars. Religion in the News 2, 3. http://www.trincoll.edu/depts/csrpl/RINVol2No3/Israel's%20Religion%20Wars.htm
Rosenthal, Michelle. 2003. Israel's Tele-Rabbi. Religion in the News 6, 2.
Haredi Filmmaking in Israel
Halkin, Talya. 2004. The guests are here to stay. The Jerusalem Post (August 19, 2004).
About the making of Ushpizin, a film whose goal is "to capture something of Haredi life and consciousness by removing the critical, even disparaging lens through which it is often viewed by secular Israelis." Produced according to the laws of the halakha, this movie is not shown during Shabbat and has been warmly received by Haredi audiences.
Balint, Judy Lash. 2004. Can mashiach be far behind? Arutz Sheva (July 13, 2004).
"As the credits roll after the screening, the applause is long and heartfelt. Ushpizin is a contender for the prestigious Wolgin Award for best Israeli feature film. If a positive film about the Orthodox community beats out the seven other contenders and is judged a winner by a panel of secular film people next week, then surely the Messiah can't be far behind."
Roten, Tamar. 2003. It's K for kosher in Haredi Challahwood. Haaretz.com (January 14, 2003).
"...three years ago...some clever Haredi entrepreneurs began producing films for the ultra-Orthodox public. They took advantage of a loophole that allows rabbis to use computers to earn a living, and began to sell movies on CDs to be viewed on a computer screen. This made it possible to circumvent the 'abominable device' (television) and avoid any religious disapproval."
Balint, Judy Lash. 2002. The Writing on the Wall: Graffiti in Israel. Magshimon 22 (October 27, 2002).