‘I Didn’t Know How to Be with My Husband’: State-Religion Struggles over Sex Education in Israel and England

Lea Taragin-Zeller*, Ben Kasstan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Sex education presents a major dilemma for state-minority relations, reflecting a conflict between basic rights to education and religious freedom. In this comparative ethnography of informal sex education among ultra-Orthodox Jews (Haredim) in Israel and England, we frame the critical difference between “age-appropriate” and “life-stage” (marriage and childbirth) models of sex education. Conceptualizing these competing approaches as disputes over “knowledge responsibility,” we call for more context-specific understandings of how educational responsibilities are envisioned in increasingly diverse populations.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)5-20
Number of pages16
JournalAnthropology and Education Quarterly
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was funded by the Wellcome Trust (grant code: 101955/Z/13/Z), The Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Israeli Democracy Institute. We thank Nurit Stadler and Katie Gaddini as well as the anonymous peer reviewers and the Anthropology and Education Quarterly editorial team for their helpful feedback. Lea Taragin‐Zeller thanks her colleagues at the Woolf Institute and the Reproductive Sociology Research Group (ReproSoc) at the University of Cambridge and the Technion, and Ben Kasstan thanks his colleagues at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem for their ongoing support. Acknowledgements.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 The Authors. Anthropology & Education Quarterly published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of American Anthropological Association


  • Gender
  • Judaism
  • religion
  • sex education
  • state


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