Mizrahim in Israel

Jews from Arab lands are gaining more and more influence in Israeli society.

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The Third Generation

The third generation of Mizrahim in Israel, those born in the 1970s whose parents and grandparents immigrated to Israel with the large wave of immigration in the 1950s, has mixed feelings toward its Mizrahi identity. For many, the lines between Mizrahim and Ashkenazim are blurring. Mizrahim and Ashkenazim, for the most part, study together, are enlisted together in the army, and often marry one another.

The younger generation of Mizrahim often does not understand why the older generation sees Mizrahi culture as such a central part of their identity. Many argue that the unique Mizrahi culture is being replaced by a uniform Israeli culture based on Jewish religion and nationalism, Hebrew culture, and certain local behavior and ethics.

Some young Mizrahim, however, are reclaiming their Mizrahi heritage. Nonprofit organizations such as Mi-Mizrah Shemesh work to empower Mizrahi youth and teach them about their heritage. Publications such as Tehudot Zehut: Ha-Dor ha-Shlishi Kotev Mizrahit (Identity Impact: The Third Generation Writes Mizrahi) give voice to the third generation's unique experience of being Mizrahi. Young Mizrahim are also fighting to transform the nation's public schools, where Ashkenazim and Mizrahim study together, by bringing Mizrahi history and culture into the classroom alongside Ashkenazic. 

Their vision is not one of Mizrahi dominance, like that of the Shas school system, but of different cultures co-existing. They hope that these efforts will ensure that the fourth generation of Mizrahim in Israel will see their heritage, not as a stumbling block, but as a source of pride.

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Rachael Gelfman Schultz

Rachael Gelfman Schultz holds a B.A. in religion from Harvard University, and completed her M.A. in Jewish Civilization at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She is a Jewish educator in Karmiel, Israel.