Social Change Apparent Among Arabs but Not Among Ultra-orthodox Jews
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Social Change Apparent Among Arabs but Not Among Ultra-orthodox Jews

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Sharp differences in the daily life-style and outlook between Israeli Arab youth and the younger generation of ultra-Orthodox Jews in Jerusalem’s Mea Shearim quarter were reported today by Prof. Rita Simon, visiting professor at the Hebrew University who is conducting a research project on social change.

Prof. Simon, on leave from the University of Illinois, found, for one thing that young Israeli Arabs, while retaining their nationalistic values admire and try to emulate Israeli culture. But the Mea Shearim Jews abhor that culture as the root of all evil. Prof. Simon’s findings were based on a study of 150 families from both communities conducted in 1970-71. The information released today was preliminary, derived from a working draft. The American academician expects to extend her study to a cross-section of the Israeli population to test various aspects of social change.


She observed that among the Arabs, the present generation has virtually accepted the fact that their children would not dress and live as they did. In Mea Shearim, however, there is great agreement between the generations on questions of life-style and the younger generation, in fact, is critical of their parents for insufficient vigilance in passing on their traditional moral and social values.

Prof. Simon’s study showed that Mea Shearim girls will marry young and become housewives. Arab girls, on the other hand, hope to complete high school at least and to work outside of their homes for, a time. Arab mothers would like to see their daughters have large families–six or more offspring, but the Arab girls want at most no more than 2-3 children, Prof. Simon found.

The Arabs were much more exposed to the local news media than the ultra-Orthodox Jews, Arabs watch television programs, mainly from the neighboring Arab countries and divide their radio listening between Arab and Israeli broadcasts. Most Arab mothers are illiterate but their children read both Hebrew and Arabic newspapers, Prof. Simon found.

In contrast, television is forbidden to the Mea Shearim Jews. They read newspapers, but mainly the religious press and most of them do not listen to the Israeli radio. Most of the women who expressed an interest in the news media, read Yiddish newspapers and listen to Yiddish radio programs. Very few Mea Shearim women read or listen to Hebrew.

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