Individuals in Mobilized Hebrew Society: The Meanings of Setting Limits in the Diaries of the Teacher Z. (1938-1940)

Individuals in Mobilized Hebrew Society: The Meanings of Setting Limits in the Diaries of the Teacher Z. (1938-1940)

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Yair Seltenreich

Mobilized society exists when a common goal is shared by masses who contribute with genuine involvement to its achievement. A mobilized Hebrew society existed in Eretz Yisrael before 1948. Many individuals had difficulty conforming to the “emotional regime” imposed by the mobilized society, which tolerated the existence of individual sentiments but not an individual’s particular desires, unless they were in line with its common ethos. The result was reflected in efforts to delineate borders between the emotional regime of the mobilized society and the individuals’ emotional refuges. The craving to preserve the emotional refuge as a complement rather than an alternative to the emotional regime was reflected by moments of personal crisis followed by deep sentiments of guilt. The article illustrates the reflections of such attitudes through the diaries of the teacher Z. during an eighteen-month period (July 1938–January 1940). Z. was a teacher of mathematics in Haifa’s Reali high school. The diaries, which are part of a private collection, are a clear reflection of Z.’s efforts to become a member of an emotional community while creating a separate, individual emotional refuge.