The connection between the Jews and Israel

Ami Isseroff knows much and writes well. Recently he wrote, American Jews: The Pity of it all

    In Ha’aretz, Shmuel Rosner published a very interesting reaction of an anonymous American Jew to the proposition that Israel is the center of Jewish life. To my silly mind, this proposition must be self evident to every person who studies Jewish religion and Jewish culture, and it has been true for 3,000 years. In the farthest reaches of China and Africa, wherever they were, orthodox Jews prayed toward Jerusalem, and vowed, “Next Year in Jerusalem.” A millennium ago, a Jewish poet wrote, “My heart is in the East and I am at the ends of the West.” The common language of all the Jewish people, East and West, was always Hebrew, the holidays celebrated by Jews were mostly related to the land, and the shared history of the Jewish people always began with the land and ended with return to the land. “The land” has always been only one place for Jews – it is here, in Israel, not in beautiful California, or fabulous Florida or Florence Italy nor even in majestic London or cosmopolitan New York. Jews means “people of Israel.” And when, in the 19th century, many Jews stopped being religious, they nonetheless came to realize that they could not be French or Russian or German precisely like their neighbors, but rather that they had something in common with religious Jews: Israel.

He followed this up with Israel in the Center? The other side of the issue

Both articles are well worth reading and continue the discussion we are having here on Zionism: its roots and future.

July 18, 2007 | 2 Comments »

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3 Comments / 2 Comments

  1. American Jews in order to gain acceptance either discarded or watered down tradition Judaism. This is the great Paradox. To look think and become just like everybody else. When Rabbis become like priests, when synagogues become like churches, when rabbis admit they do not believe in god, or what is left for third fourth and fifth generation Jews revolves around food and some ethnic jokes it is still a near miracle that we still have as many Jews still identifying as Jews. Jewish youth are generally an intelligent lot and you cant fool them with fake religion and dishonest rabbis and leaders. so they either drop out or convert to other faiths. We have lost more Jews to assimilation than all of the pogroms, inquisitions and Hitlers combined. Someone described this as a second Shoah.
    When I was a kid the Jews made up over 3% of Americas Jews today it is less than 2%today. American Jewish influence is thus reduced both politically and economically. In ten years from now at current trends the Jews will not be a factor at all and this is what the world wants of Israel TO SOME HOW DISAPPEAR !

  2. The demographic trends are clear, a growing number of religious Jews are going to Eretz Israel. This means that Israel’s Jewish community is strengthening, and the Diaspora’s Jewish connection to its Judaism is weakening. In the Diaspora Jewish education, synagogues, and other community institutions are accordingly weakened and thus become increasingly burdensome for the remaining Jews, who increasingly assimilate without very strong said institutions. Even Netanyahu said that in 10 to 15 years the only place a Jew will be able to live as a Jew will be Israel. I don’t know whether it will take that long.

  3. In his first article, Ami Isseroff seizes upon views expressed by a Jew by the name of Jack and uses him as his foil to highlight and elevate his own views over that of Jack’s whom Isseroff denigrates as he leads up to the conclusion that Jack’s advocating against Israel’s centrality to the American Jewish community, comes down to money.

    In his second article he concludes:

    If Israel wants to attract the interest of Jack the American Jew, we have to educate Jews who are interested in something other than money, and we have to be able to offer Jack and all the other American Jacks something more and better than an alternative destination for his spare cash.

    I agree with Isseroff’s views on the centrality of Israel to Judaism and the world Jewish community in diaspora.

    I strongly disagree with his facile reasoning that seeks to distill Jack’s thinking down to an issue of money and slot all American Jews who would deny the centrality of Israel to Judaism and K’lal Yisra’el as coming from a mind to which money is central to their thinking.

    Jack’s reference to money was but one reason given in his effort to support his views that it is not in Jewish American interests to support Israel and why for American Jews to thrive, it is unnecessary to have Israel as being central to their Judaism.

    There are a number of reasons standing on their own or taken in combination that cause some American Jews to deny the centrality of Israel to Judaism and diaspora Jewish community and those reasons rarely are as simplistic and crass as being a matter of money.

    Setting American Jack up as his straw man, twisting what American Jack is saying and where he is coming from to make his point does Isseroff no credit.

    Though I disagree with Jack’s conclusion and reasoning, if Isseroff and those who applaud him for his views on this matter and want to join him in trying to educate the American Jacks as Isseroff proposes, they are going to find they will have failed to educate the American Jacks, but succeeded in turning them off and sending them running in the other direction.

    Isseroff is capable of a much better and a much more fair analysis as to root causes why some diaspora Jews do not see the importance of Israel to Judaism and diaspora Jewry.

    Isseroff is also quite capable of providing cogent views on what it will take, including educational efforts to reach those who deny the importance of the centrality of Israel to Judaism and diaspora Jewish communities and through such process induce them to see things differently. I hope Ami Isseroff makes a further and better effort to do just that.

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