All Her Sons: Politics and Gender in the Jewish Cult at Rachel’s Tomb of the Last Three Decades

David Rotman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The following paper explores the evolution of the cult of Rachel the Matriarch and its main folktales from the 1990’s until the present day. Whilst folktales surrounding the Biblical matriarch date back to the Rabbinic era, from the mid-nineteenth century onwards a unique Jewish cult at Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem significantly intensified. These rites, which were mostly female-led, were analyzed in a series of previous studies, most of which traced their development from their inception up to the 1990s. Since the Oslo Accords, however, the rituals and rites along with the folktales have evolved in profound ways. My research demonstrates the degree to which the political sphere impacts modern day Israeli-Jewish folk traditions, including bringing about the establishment of new traditions. Specifically, I argue that the rites, in the past mostly female-led, due to the increasing political significance of the cult, have undergone an intense process of masculinization.

Original languageAmerican English
JournalPolitical Theology
StateAccepted/In press - 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Israel/Palestine
  • Oslo Accord
  • Rachel the matriarch
  • folklore
  • folktales
  • politics and religion
  • sacred space


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