With a light touch and many wonderful illustrations, historian Anat Helman investigates "life on the ground" in Israel during the first years of statehood. She looks at how citizens--natives of the land, longtime immigrants, and newcomers--coped with the state's efforts to turn an incredibly diverse group of people into a homogenous whole. She investigates the efforts to make Hebrew the lingua franca of Israel, the uses of humor, and the effects of a constant military presence, along with such familiar aspects of daily life as communal dining on the kibbutz, the nightmare of trying to board a bus, and moviegoing as a form of escapism. In the process Helman shows how ordinary people adapted to the standards and rules of the political and cultural elites and negotiated the chaos of early statehood.
ANAT HELMAN is a senior lecturer in the Department of Jewish History and Contemporary Jewry at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Her most recent book is A Coat of Many Colors: Dress Culture in the Young State of Israel.