Dreaming of the Other

By: William Buse  

This paper examines the consequences of the large-scale emigration to Israel by the Yemenite Jewish population in the late 1940’s. The focus for this examination are the nocturnal dreams of this population collected from the three generations that directly and indirectly experienced the emigration. Additionally, the dream content and interpretation are linked analogously with the fate of the henna, a premarital ceremony revered by the Yemenite Jews, as it has changed in form and function over time and space. An ethnographic study of an ethnically homogeneous Yemenite Jewish town in Israel, including extensive interviews establishing the various cultural and political contexts of their dreams over three generations, illuminates the consequences of this populations’ adaptation to contemporary Israel society. The author suggests that Yemenite Jewish dream life is a valuable idiosyncratic and prismatic cultural form that reflects highly intimate visions of the self/Other experience and, as such, is intrinsic to the Yemenite Jewish mediation between their history in Yemen and their migratory experience in Israel. The discussion is embellished with the author’s photographs from his fieldwork.

Dreams, Yemenite Jews, Israel, Immigration
Identity and Belonging
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Dr. William Buse

Director, Counseling, The Juilliard School

William Buse, PhD, completed his anthropological training (Columbia University) and his psychoanalytic training (Postgraduate Center for Mental Health) in New York City where he currently serves as Director of Counseling at The Juilliard School.