Andrew Katzenstein Atwell

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Chicago, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 10281

Approve Date

April 13, 2022

Project Title

Atwell, Andrew (Chicago, U. of) "Settling the Good: Ethical Imagination, Temporal Paradox, and the Settlement of Israel's Urban Interior"

ANDREW ATWELL, then a graduate student at University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, was awarded a grant in April 2022, to aid research on “Settling the Good: Ethical Imagination, Temporal Paradox, and the Settlement of Israel’s Urban Interior,” supervised by Dr. Hussein Ali Agrama. Israeli Jewish society is undergoing a series of realignments. While several factors are at play, their timing and shape cannot be explained without reference to the violent events of May 2021 in Israel’s “mixed” cities and their effect on Israeli Jewish moral and political imagination. The most well-known of these events was in Lod, and at the center of the controversies surrounding these events is the city’s “Torah seed” group. Torah seed groups pursue a mission of social change in cities they conceive as neglected through investment, participation, and promotion of Jewish values, variously conceived. This research found that Lod’s Torah seed group emerges as a response to a bundle of questions gripping its membership and wider Israeli Jewish society. These questions span exclusivity of education, access to a Torah way of life, Israeli Jewish social fragmentation, and more, and they share a temporal structure: “without urgent intervention, a central aspect of who we are or ought to be is slipping away.” This research explores the effects of that structure on the possibilities and constraints on moral imagination within the Torah seed group of Lod, and suggests continuities between this structure (and corresponding moral imagination) in Israel/Palestine and beyond it.