Becoming Israeli: National Ideals and Everyday Life in the 19505
312 pp. 62 illus. 6x9"
Jewish Book Council reviews "Becoming Israeli" (2015)
Becoming Israeli: National Ideals and Everyday Life in the 1950s
A fresh and lively assessment of the pleasures and hardships of daily life in Israel during the 1950s
With a light touch and many wonderful illustrations, historian Anat Helman investigates "life on the ground" in Israel during the first years of statehood. She looks a how citizens—natives of the land, longtime immigrants, and newcomers—coped with the state's efforts to turn an incredibly diverse group of people into a homogenous whole. She investigates the efforts to make Hebrew the lingua franca of Israel, the uses of humor, and the effects of a constant military presence, along with such familiar aspects of daily life as communal dining on the kibbutz, the nightmare of trying to board a bus, and moviegoing as a form of escapism. In the process Helman shows how ordinary people adapted to the standards and rules of the political and cultural elites and negotiated the chaos of early statehood.
ANAT HELMAN is a lecturer in the Department of Jewish History and in the Contemporary Jewry & Cultural Studies Program at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.