Ultra-Orthodox Women’s Reaction to the “Society of Learners” Model as a Motive among Israel’s Ultra-Orthodox Feminists

Asher Suzin, Ayelet Banai, Lee Cahaner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The “Society of Learners” is an accepted research model that explains communal, religious, and sociological features among Lithuanian and Mizrahi communities in Israel. This model has become increasingly challenging for many ultra-Orthodox men and women. In this article we discuss reactions to the society of learners model as a motive for the establishment of the ultra-Orthodox feminist movement that was created in anticipation of the 2013 Knesset elections, and examine its role in the establishment of the movement. Through semi-structured, in-depth interviews we asked fifteen ultra-Orthodox women whether the model was a factor in the formation of ultra-Orthodox feminism and found three central motifs in their responses: a woman’s place in the life of the individual and the repercussions of this model on the life of ultra-Orthodox women; the value of Torah study and resistance to the society of learners as an exclusive model; and lastly, the economic consequences of the model. This study adds a new facet to the theory of` the society of learners and supports other studies of women from minority groups as agents of preservation and change. Hence, it contributes a better understanding of the ultra-Orthodox feminist movement in Israel which developed less than a decade ago.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)169-191
Number of pages23
JournalIsrael Studies
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
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  • Agents of preservation
  • Israeli Ultra-Orthodox Feminism
  • Society of learners

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


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