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Center for the Study of Multiculturalism and Diversity

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Mount Scopus, Jerusalem, 9190501

tel. 972.2.5494950

Meet Our Fellows 2016-17

Micah Belser

School of Education.

Research Topic

Integration of Bi-Cultural Identities: The Case of Religious-Secular Couples in Israel.

Research Summary

The study focuses on three major subjects: bi-cultural identities in Israel, the religious-secular conflict in Israel, and mixed marriages in Israel. The mixed marriage of religious and secular partners is a growing phenomenon in Israel and in the Jewish world in general. In the past, the identity definition of Jews and Israelis was usually more dichotomous, and indicated emotional and sociological affiliation with a particular social sector, religious or secular, with all its typical features. In recent years, religious identities became much more layered and complex. The religious or secular identity is subjective, includes a range of possibilities, and is less clear-cut on the religious-secular continuum. This phenomenon is particularly interesting and intriguing when it comes to marriage, as it provides an opportunity to study a model for co-existence between cultures. The paper studies how individuals of dichotomous identities combine and commit to a common destiny in the most intimate structure of the family unit, and how a shared life of mutual inspiration between the cultures is possible, replacing a sense of threat where each side fears being devoured by the other. One of the major innovations of this study is the development of new conceptualizations and ways to measure mixed relations, which have not existed until now. These conceptualizations and measuring tools could provide a significant contribution to the study of mixed marriages of various kinds, such as interracial and interfaith marriages in Israel and around the world. In order to answer the question, the study looks at the influences of the degree and patterns of cultural blending of partners in a mixed relationship, on their level of satisfaction from the marriage, beyond the influences of major psychological parameters of an intimate relationship. The parameters examined are: Level of differentiation in the relationship and strategies of conflict resolution.