New bookPublié le 30.11.2021

Judaism in Motion. The Making of Same-Sex Parenthood in Israel

Lustenberger, Sibylle. 2020. Judaism in Motion. The Making of Same-Sex Parenthood in Israel. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.


In Israel, where the Orthodox rabbinate wields historically sanctioned influence over the legal definitions of marriage and parenthood, same-sex parenthood raises important questions such as what constitutes belonging to the national collective, who has the authority to define the norms of reproduction, and where the boundaries of Orthodox Judaism begin and end. Judaism in Motion addresses these questions from a transgenerational perspective that pays heed to how religiously informed rules, norms, and practices of transferring material properties, names, and societal belonging are adopted and transformed. It presents a detailed ethnographic account of the dynamic interaction between kinship, religion, and the state that complicates the commonly held assumption that places same-sex parenthood in a radically secular sphere that stands in stark opposition to Orthodox Judaism. Taking same-sex parenthood as a prism through which society at large is reflected, this volume further explores how transformations of societal structures take place, and what flexibility and leeway exist in organized religions.


“In this splendid portrait of Israeli gay and lesbian couples seeking recognition as parents, Lustenberger shows how they deftly navigate the spaces defined by the tension between Rabbinate control over marriage and parenthood—the bedrock of Jewish nationalism—and the often contradictory rights granted by a maze of political, legal, and bureaucratic institutions. In the process, she brilliantly elucidates the complexities of the relationship between kinship and nation, religious and secular values, and social continuity and transformational change.” Susan McKinnon, Professor Emerita, Department of Anthropology, University of Virginia.

"A wonderful ethnography! Lustenberger’s comprehensive and powerful examination of the political, rabbinic, and cultural dynamics at play in the contemporary creation of gay and lesbian families shows us how much has changed in both orthodox Judaism and in the Israeli politics of reproduction twenty years after Kahn’s Reproducing Jews first got anthropologists thinking about kosher eggs and wombs. Drawing on fascinating fieldwork following the journeys of LGBT Jewish-Israelis on their path to parenthood at the interstices of the nation-state and the rabbinic establishment, Judaism in Motion expertly weaves together insightful analysis of the many actors in this tapestry: same-sex couples, their families, medical personnel in fertility clinics, state workers and rabbis." Elly Teman, author of Birthing a Mother: the Surrogate Body and the Pregnant Self.