Monday, June 6, 2016

Neveh Dror - the town of the datlashim

The crazy kaleidoscope that is Israel is about to become just a bit crazier, with the creation of Neveh Dror, a new town which is being marketed to the datlashim.

No, datlashim wasn't a word you missed in Sunday School or when you were learning just enough Hebrew to squeak by your bat mizva. It's not really a word at all, or wasn't until quite recently. It's the initials of DATiyim LeSHe'avar, formerly religious. By which is mostly not meant people who grew up Haredi and became secular. Datlashim are the children of national religious (i.e. the Israeli version of Modern Orthodox) who have become, well, secular, sort of, in a way. Had they become fully secular, they would be secular. And they sort of are, secular, but with the added twist that their orthodox background still plays a significant role in their secular lives. Hence they need a moniker; one I think they themselves invented. It's not pejorative, and not even particularly judgmental, at last not in the way Israelis like to be judgmental.

How do they know they're it? Or how do the rest of us know? It's hard to say, but it's not at all insignificant. I think of two of my colleagues, one roughly my age and thus technically too old to be a datlash, a term invented over the past 10-15 years. Yet even today, probably 40 years after he left the fold, every now and then he'll refer to "us", meaning not us but those of you whom I used to resemble and still have a special affinity for and whom I rather resemble every now and then, when we all look askance at the secular Israelis who don't have our cultural baggage. Even tho he doesn't carry the baggage most days of the year. The other is about a decade his junior and thus a decade less into the secular fold, but she really has left all the baggage behind: she's not a datlash because she'd never regard herself as part of the old world she left behind, and she seems to have acquired some of the cultural ignorance she didn't grow up with.

So now that's all crystal clear, right?

Anyway, the forces of the market being the very delicate and perceptive mechanism that they sometimes are, someone has figured out there's money to be made by developing a real estate project aimed specifically at the datlashim, promising them a community where they'll feel just like everyone else: confused in their special way, which is recognizable, shareable, and distinctive. People with other confusions should go live in other communities.

I have no idea if this is a Good Thing. But clearly, it's a Thing.


milton said...

Fabulous. If moving house was not such a major decision and monumental headache, and if knew where Neveh Dror is, I might consider living there. To call Datlashim confused is understandable, but pejorative and often incorrect. Datlashism (a word I invented just now), involves integrating two worldviews-one inherited, one self-generated. Its a delicate and tricky mix, but it means that you are constantly examining and reviewing your beliefs and opinions, which is challenging and tiring, but also interesting.

Barry Meislin said...

Seeing as "the only thing that is constant is change", what might you call datlashim who have their faith renewed?

Anonymous said...

I know this post is over a month old, but I came across a study about datlashim in America.
Note the 43% of respondents who feel a need to socialize more with people like
themselves - perhaps they need a Neve Dror of their own!