In recent years, the welfare state literature has been witnessing a religious turn, (re)reminding us the pivotal role of religion in shaping the modern welfare state. Notwithstanding its theoretical importance, this turn has been largely confined to European, North American, and antipodean settings. By drawing upon the historical case of Israeli burial services, this study seeks to make a modest step in closing this theoretical and empirical gap. Specifically, its findings point to the historical role of the Judaism in establishing universal burial services, funded by the state and operated almost exclusively by religious burial societies. Moreover, this policy legacy, which already had its roots in the British Mandate rule, is still at work, even in an era of permanent austerity. These findings problematize mainstream historical observations, which view the Israeli welfare state as a secular project, by suggesting a more nuanced and progressive role for Judaism in its history.
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