SynopsisThe Israeli party-movement Shas is usually described by academics as Haredi, (Ultra Orthodox). Based on data collected during fieldwork in Israel this dissertation questions this academic categorisation of Shas, and argues that it does not take into consideration the historical, sociological or religious roots of Shas, nor its interaction in the Israeli society and state. Shas was established in 1983 and is now the third largest party in the Knesset after the elections in 1999. In addition to being a political party, Shas operates a variety of institutions and organisations focusing on religious and other education, and welfare. The leadership and the supporters of Shas are mainly Jews from North African and Middle Eastern countries who immigrated to Israel in the 1950s and 1960s. These Jews have experienced discrimination from the national Ashkenazi establishment and from the Ashkenazi Haredi institutions in Israel. Shas is a Sephardi party-movement, i.e. the leaders and supporters follow the Sephardi edition of the Halacha, the Jewish religious law, and the Sephardi religious customs. The Haredi identity refers to a particular Jewish relationship with modernisation formed in a European context in the 17th and 18th centuries, and developed further in Israel and other places. This identity and lifestyle is by academics characterised as anti-Zionist, segregated from the surrounding Israeli society, holding a passive attitude to historical development and aiming to copy a fixed type of observance of the religious law practiced in Europe before modernisation. The present study argues that Shas has a different relationship with modernisation than that described as Haredi. This is interpreted by investigating the relationship of Shas with individualisation, the party-movement’s understanding and use of past and future, its relationship with the traditional religious power institutions and with the central state. Furthermore, this study looks into the various strategies applied by Shas to recruit supporters, the relationship of Shas with technology and with the social and economic situation of the individual, the new model for Sephardi women created by Shas, and finally the practical politics of Shas. The “New Jewish Israeli” identity of Shas is Sephardi and Torahni, defined as following the Torah, which refers to religious and historical traditions that are reformed to the modern Israeli context of Shas. This identity opens up to all Jews who chooses to follow the Sephardi edition of the Halacha and to Jews with different levels of religious observance. The conclusion of this study is that Shas has an attitude of inclusiveness toward individuals and a future outlook, which reflects an active relationship with modernisation and history.