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Israel, Diaspora and Religious Zionist Education in America

Rabbi Tully Harcsztark
May 22, 2018

1. Aliya and Diaspora: Conceptual Frameworks

Camp Moshava and Bnei Akiva of North America have, for many years, delivered a very clear message to their community members regarding the centrality of the State of Israel and the responsibility of Jews in the Diaspora. Simply, the message is: make aliya! Israel is the homeland of all Jews, and it is where all Jews should live. It is a message delivered with respect — for people and for the complexity of the circumstances in which they find themselves — and it is delivered with unwavering commitment. And yet, there are many Modern Orthodox schools and camps in the U.S. that clearly identify as Religious Zionist in orientation but do not deliver this clear message. Israel is central to the Jewish identity and spiritual and religious thriving of these communities, and yet they do not express the same singular commitment to aliya.

In our own school, Israel plays a very central role in the life of the students, families and faculty. We celebrate its successes and triumphs, and we pray together when tragedy strikes. We learn history and Ivrit and current Israeli events. We are so proud when students make aliya or join the IDF. But we do not promote aliya with the conviction of a Bnei Akiva institution. Why? Some may interpret that as ‘a lack’, an absence, a conviction that is less than it could be. But I think there is deeper meaning here. Communities of people express beliefs and thoughts through their behavior and through the decisions that they make. Too often, those behaviors are not fully understood and articulated. The behaviors are communicating ideas, waiting to be extracted and explained.

On a personal level, I have sensed my own resistance to declaring a singularly focused message of ‘aliya for all’. This paper serves as an opportunity to explore that resistance, theorize and articulate it, begin to translate it into a purposeful version of Religious Zionism and consider the educational implications of thinking differently about American Zionism.

Exploring that resistance begins in the most concrete, daily experience of life in schools. As an educator, I have been trained to recognize the strengths and weaknesses of each student. The mission statement of our school charges the school community to “recognize the unique needs and potential” of each student. We seek to push against the “mass production” feel of large educational institutions in the quest to identify the uniqueness of each person. That requires an investment of energy to understand the many, many particulars of each student’s home life, psychological disposition, intellectual capacity and social acumen. It encourages us to drill deep, to value difference, to appreciate context.

It is certainly a conceptual leap to move from the halls and classrooms of school to the sweeping ideologies that have shaped Zionism and its cultural forces over the past century and a half. At the same time, the encounter between teacher and student, personal life and classroom content, entails precisely such a leap. The students who populate the classrooms as they study Zionist history and explore Zionist ideology are young men and women living very local, concretized lives in their Diasporic communities. The local minds of teachers and students engage the large ideas that have shaped Jewish history.

Consider the Diasporic student encountering Zionist ideology. Ideology is a normative program that shapes the ideas, values and behaviors of a group and can be a very powerful tool for bringing people together for a shared purpose. It gives meaning and value to the members of the group. Ideology can also be a mechanism through which those in power keep those who are not in power at bay. While it can create community, the pursuit of ideology can also foster the negation or ignoring of those outside its ideological boundaries.

In its most principled articulations, much of Zionist ideology places Diaspora communities outside of its boundaries. Those who live in the Diaspora are not truly living Jewish lives or are ‘missing the boat’ of Jewish redemption, literally or figuratively. Must Zionist ideology see those in the Diaspora in that way? Can the individual students and teachers, communities and institutions of the Diaspora truly be Zionists while living in Diasporic communities? Implied by (and sometimes clearly stated in) ‘aliya for all’ education: if you are living in the Diaspora, you are not truly part of the Zionist enterprise.

This perspective is originary to both secular Zionist thinking and the Messianic Zionism of Rav Kook, both of which have their strong adherents today. ‘Negation of the exile’ ideology is alive and well in Zionisms of all sorts. But when I focus on the particular educational moment, that moment when a student or a community of students in the Diaspora engage those larger ideologies in the particularity of their individual lives, I resist. I resist the idea that hundreds of thousands, even millions of Jews just have it wrong, that one cannot be a committed Religious Zionist and live outside of Israel.

I will briefly focus on these two ideologies, classical secular Zionist ideology and Religious Zionist ideology, as they have developed via Gush Emunim out of the thought of R. Abraham Isaac HaCohen Kook, to highlight the complex impact that ‘negation of the exile’ ideology has on the broad range of students that we inevitably have in our schools. I will offer a more inclusive Zionist narrative that values both the Israel and Diaspora components of Jewish history and highlights their continued shared importance for continued dynamic and thriving Jewish culture and ethical Jewish peoplehood. I will then share the educational implications of this more inclusive Zionist ideology.

2. שלילת הגולה – Negating the Exile

Over the past century the relationship between Israel and the Diaspora has been complex both in the way that it has been theorized and in practice. Classical Zionism promoted שלילת הגולה the negation of the Diaspora an idea that has its contemporary adherents as well. This doctrine teaches that all Jews belong in Israel and that life outside of Israel is not an authentic Jewish life. A.B. Yehoshua famously described that for him being a Jew is his skin while for those in the Diaspora it is but a jacket – an adornment something that can be easily removed.1 Noam Marans, ed. The A.B. Yehoshua Controversy: An Israel-Diaspora Dialogue on Jewishness, Israeliness, and Identity (New York: Dorothy and Julius Koppelman Institute on America Jewish-Israeli Relations, American Jewish Committee, 2006), p. 61. David Ben Gurion followed a long line of Zionist thinkers who believed that Jewish life in the Diaspora centered around Torah and halakhic living was weak, partial, and submissive: a product of a nation under siege.2Yael Zerubavel, Recovered Roots: Collective Memory and the Making of Israeli National Tradition (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1995), 18 The State of Israel was not only about the establishment of a Jewish homeland but also a rejection of Judaism as it had evolved over two millennia.3Gideon Aran, Kookism: The Roots of Gush Emunim, Jewish Settlers’ Sub-Culture, Zionist Theology, Contemporary Messianism (Jerusalem: Carmel, 2013) [Hebrew] This was powerfully expressed by Haim Hazaz’ character Yudke, in his oft quoted short story “The Drasha:”


ראשית אני אתחיל מזה שאין לנו היסטוריה כלל. זו עובדה…שלא אנחנו עשינו את ההיסטוריה שלנו כי אם הגויים עשו אותה לנו. כמו שהם היו מכבים לנו את המנורה בשבת וחולבים לנו את הפרה בשבת ומסיקים את התנור כך הם גם עשו לנו את ההיסטוריה כרצונם וכדרכם ואנחנו רק קיבלנו אותה מידם. אבל היא לא שלנו לא שלנו כלל וכלל! משום שאנחנו לא עשינו אותה. משום שאנחנו היינו  עושים אותה אחרת משום שלא רצינו שתהא כזו ורק אחרים רצו והם הכריחו אותנו לקבלה בעל־כרחנו…

אני בכלל הייתי אוסר ללמד לילדים שלנו את ההיסטוריה היהודית. לאיזה שד ללמד אותם קלון אבותיהם? אני פשוט הייתי אומר להם: “חֶברה! לנו אין היסטוריה! מיום שגָלינו מארצנו אנחנו עם בלי היסטוריה. אתם פטורים. לכו לשחק בכדור־רגל”…אין הציונות והיהדות דבר אחד אלא שני דברים שונים זה מזה אולי גם שני דברים הסותרים זה את זה. בודאי שני דברים הסותרים זה את זה! על־כל-פנים לא היינו הך. כשאדם אינו יכול להיות יהודי הוא נעשה ציוני. 

4Haim Hazaz, “The Sermon [Ha-Drasha],” Selected Stories [Sipurim Nivcharim] (Tel-Aviv: Dvir, 1952), 147-163. [Hebrew] Web:http://tarbut.cet.ac.il/ShowItem.aspx?ItemID=818ad65e-230c-4dac-8aad-4198b397540a&lang=HEBדבר אחד ברור. הציונות לא המשך לא רפואה למכה. שטויות! היא עקירה והריסה היא ההיפך ממה שהיה הסוף

I will highlight three distinct arenas through which “negation of the exile” ideology is propagated: how we read the past, look to the future and narrate our present.

A. Reading the past
Yael Zerubavel describes the way that classical Zionist thought reads Jewish history. In particular, she has shown how the conscious shaping of collective memory helped create the Israeli national tradition, quoting Carl Becker, who observes: “The kind of history that has the most influence upon the life of the community and the course of events is the history that common people carry around in their heads.”5Carl L. Becker, “What Are Historical Facts?” Detachment and the Writing of History: Essays and Letters of Carl L. Becker. Ed. Phil L. Snyder (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1967), 61. And classical Zionist history sought to, in effect, deny, or at least minimize, the positive role of Diasporic Jewish life through the centuries and eliminate the role of Diaspora Judaism in shaping the future of the Jewish people.

As Zerubavel describes it:

The Zionist binary model of Jewish history portrays Antiquity as a positive period, contrasted with a highly negative image of Exile. Since the main criterion for this classification is the bond between the Jewish people and their land, the period of Exile is essentially characterized by a lack. The dispersion to many localities resulting from the loss of direct contact with the land thus undermined the Jews’ shared experience of nationhood. During centuries of exile, religion functioned as the adhesive bond for the dispersed Jewish communities. But this exilic way of life was a poor substitute for the earlier national phase, thus conveying a process of spiritual degeneration as well as political regression.6Zerubavel, Recovered Roots, 17-18.

Religious life in Exile, in this description, trained the Jewish people to be weak, insular and ill-equipped for the challenge and possibility of life as an autonomous Jewish people. It instilled traits of fear and submissiveness that all but ensured the continued persecution of the Jewish nation.

Again Zerubavel:
Zionism essentially emerged as a reaction against Exile and reflects an acute awareness of the need to find a solution to the problems of the Jewish people and exilic Judaism. In fact, even those who did not regard the return to the Land of Israel as the vital solution to the Jewish problem and who were reconciled to the idea of Jewish life outside the ancient homeland often shared a negative attitude toward Exile…Zionist collective memory thus constructs Exile as a long, dark period of suffering and persecution. Jewish life in exile constituted a recurrent history of oppression, punctuated by periodic pogroms and expulsions, of fragile existence imbued with fear and humiliation…The Socialist Zionist leader David Ben-Gurion stated that Exile consists of “histories’ of persecution and legal discrimination, the Inquisition, and pogroms; of self-sacrifice and martyrdom.7Ibid., 18.

Searching for models of Jewish strength and nationalism, the Zionists turned to the Maccabees, Masada and the Bar Kokhba revolt as turning points in Jewish history, events to which we should return for guidance. Judah Maccabee, Elazar Ben Yair and Yohanan of Gush Halav become the heroes whom we should emulate. The Diaspora thus represents a two-thousand-year gap in authentic Jewish history.

Contrast this way of “reading the Diaspora” with the following description from Ruth Wisse:

The Jewish Diaspora is one of history’s boldest political experiments, an experiment as novel as the idea of monotheism itself, and inconceivable without it…Jews did not consciously plan to continue their national life outside the Land of Israel; neither, until modern times, did any of them develop an ideology committed to stateless existence. Yet to live abroad meant to thrive as a nation without three staples of nationhood: land, a central government, and a means of self-defense.8 Ruth R. Wisse, Jews and Power (New York: Schocken, 2007), 11.

The image of Diaspora as “one of history’s boldest experiments” and “as novel as monotheism itself” is both inspiring and powerful It pushes us to consider the positive, even miraculous, aspects of Jewish life in the Diaspora, and not simply the fact of Jewish survival, although that is perhaps miracle enough.

The richness of Jewish practice and culture is a product of the Diaspora. The Babylonian Talmud, the Tosafists, Maimonidean philosophy, Iberian Kabbalah, and Hasidism are just some of the sacred and cultural treasures of the Jewish Diaspora. Jews have created Torah and Jewish culture in Hebrew, Aramaic, Arabic, French, German, Ladino, Yiddish, English and many other languages. These cultural advancements have broken the boundaries of territorial space and extended beyond specific eras. Jews have become a nation engaged with and enriched by the world it has inhabited. Zionism, the centrality of Eretz Yisrael and the State of Israel stand uncontested as vital to Jewish life and living. But we must incorporate Jewish life in the Diaspora as part of our collective memory as Jews. And Religious Zionism must consider the implications of appreciating the role of both the Israeli and Diaspora communities in shaping Jewish life. What does it mean to be a Religious Zionist who acknowledges the significance of all of Jewish history?

B. Toward a Messianic Future

Of course, a plausible response to the question of how to “read our past” is to say that, indeed, both the eras of sovereignty in Israel as well as the millennia in the Diaspora have shaped the Jewish people and have brought us to this day. But today, when the Jewish people have rebuilt a Jewish state, as the Jewish population of the State of Israel is now the largest Jewish population in the world, we must acknowledge that the positive role of the Diaspora has passed; the time for the ingathering of the exiles has arrived. All Jews belong in our homeland, the State of Israel.

This brings us to a “negation of the exile” ideology rooted not in reading the past but in working towards a messianic future. While secular Zionists’ negation of the Diaspora was (more or less) a rejection of rabbinic, exilic Judaism, Gush Emunim, followers of Rav Kook and those on the religious right negate the Diaspora because it stands as an obstacle to the full realization of halakhic and Torah Judaism that can only be fulfilled fully in the State of Israel, as a step towards the ultimate redemption.9Aran, Kookism, 139-177. While classical Labor Zionists, Gush Emunim and the radical right disagree on so much, they find common cause in negating the significance and meaning of Diaspora Judaism.

Raised as a Religious Zionist my mind returns to the time I spent studying in Yeshivat Kerem B’Yavne in the early 1980’s. In those days it was commonplace to visit and perhaps work on a fledgling settlement or consider joining a new settlement group (גרעין). We heard from representatives of Gush Emunim as a matter of course. And we most certainly recited the Prayer for the State of Israel expressing that the establishment of the State was ראשית צמיחת גאולתינו without any sense of the theological significance of that phrase and the battle that was waged around its wording. We were unknowingly acculturated to a messianic discourse that had profound practical and political implications for the future of the State of Israel. The “history in our heads,” to use Becker’s phrase was part of a messianic story.

Before the establishment of Gush Emunim in 1974, there was a wider range of possible understandings of what it meant to be a Religious Zionist in general and what Rav Abraham Isaac Kook sought to teach in particular.10Ibid, 117-120. With the establishment of Gush Emunim, the teachings of Rav Zvi Yehuda Kook and the charismatic leadership of key personalities of Gush Emunim, Religious Zionism became more commonly associated with a messianic vision for the establishment of the State of Israel and the significance of the Six Day War. This messianic vision has shaped the political strategy and religious ideology of Religious Zionism. Over time, alternate, non-messianic visions of Religious Zionism — as reflected in the thought of Yeshayahu Leibowitz, Eliezer Goldman and, later, Yoske Achituv — became the minority voice, far outweighed by the powerful vision of Gush Emunim.

It is not my task to evaluate the merits of the messianic vision of Religious Zionism. Rather, I aim to note the impact of that vision on Israel-Diaspora relations. Eliezer Don-Yehiya has shown that the notion of the negation of the exile was adopted by Gush Emunim and certain followers of Rav Kook, but the meaning of the term changed in the process:

Rabbi Zvi Yehuda believes that Jewish suffering in the Diaspora reflects a hostility that is inherent in the relations of gentiles to Jews. This hostility is a product of the essential difference, the irreducible antagonism that exists between the Jews and other nations. In Rabbi Zvi Yehuda’s view, the Diaspora is the ‘world of the gentiles,’ a world that is, in all respects, light-years distant from the Jewish people. The antagonism between Israel and the nations is not, therefore, a simple result of the Galut situation, and it will not be abolished by the establishment of a Jewish state.11Eliezer Don-Yehiya, “The Negation of Galut in Religious Zionism,” Modern Judaism, Vol. 12, No. 2 (May 1992), 141.

Galut not only prevents authentic Jewish nationalism because of the dispersion of the Jewish people. It runs much deeper. The hostility between Jew and Gentile in the Diaspora is a reflection of the existential differences between Jews and non Jews. Jews must leave the Diaspora not only for their physical safety. Jews must live in Israel because Jews and Gentiles are not compatible in spirit and being. Jews can only realize their true divine service in Israel. All Jews are charged to realize Israel’s redemption by returning to the land.

The ‘here-and-now’ radical messianism of Rabbi Zvi Yehuda and Gush Emunim understands the Zionist enterprise and the state it created as part of the Divine process of redemption…The entire Jewish people must answer the Godly voice which calls out to them through historical events; they must actively participate, to the very limits of their abilities, in the process of Messianic redemption. Central to Messianic redemption are both the preservation of the Land of Israel’s territorial integrity and the ingathering of the exiles. The two are morally and religiously incumbent upon the Jewish people. There can be no accommodation with retreat from the Land of Israel. Similarly, the continued presence of Jews in the Diaspora is entirely unacceptable. There can be no compromise in regard to the ingathering of all Jewish exiles to Israel.12Ibid, p. 143.

For Rav Zvi Yehuda and his students, the ingathering of the exiles and settling Greater Israel are intertwined aspects of the process of redemption. In this vision, negation of the Diaspora – and support for settlement – is part of the messianic vision. Rejection of either of these principles slows the march to ultimate Jewish redemption.

C. Narrating the Present
A third element that naturally sustained the “negation of the exile” ideology was the crisis narrative of Jewish life in the Diaspora. For many years, the core narrative regarding the importance and centrality of the State of Israel for the Jewish people, in particular in terms of its relationship with the Diaspora, was a crisis-based narrative. Israel was the Jewish homeland, the place where Jews could live, safe from persecution and without fear (or, at least, the classical type of Jewish fear).

Donniel Hartman writes,

After the founding of the State, the foundation for the relationship between world Jewry and Israel was in large measure a narrative of crisis, based on the precariousness of Jewish survival. For a great many Jews, it was the struggle of the brave young State of Israel, its ongoing battle for survival, and the safety for its citizens that inspired attention and support. It was this spirit of urgency that galvanized world Jewry to declare Hineni, I am here.

Conversely, in a post-Holocaust world, Jews outside of Israel did not feel confident. They often viewed their very existence as tenuous, and felt the need to protect themselves if and when the next catastrophe occurred. One of the lessons learned from the Holocaust was the danger of being a people without a home, a place that would have to take you in if you were in need. The role of Israel was to serve as that home, the sanctuary of last resort for any Jew in danger.13Donniel Hartman, “Israel and World Jewry: The Need for a New Paradigm,” Havruta Vol. 7 (Summer 2011), 25.

As described in one Israel Education curriculum:

In that narrative, Jewish existence in Israel and around the world was viewed as in inevitable if not imminent danger, with the newly founded State of Israel functioning as the homeland of the Jewish people, providing a safe haven and sanctuary of last resort for any Jew in danger. The immigration of over 3 million Jews to Israel since its birth—as they faced oppression or war—serves as a powerful example of this need and role, rendering support for Israel a self-evident investment in the preservation and future of the Jewish people worldwide.14Engaging Israel: Foundations for a New Relationship (Jerusalem: Shalom Hartman Institute, 2011), 8.

The secular Zionist view of Jewish history the redemptive Messianism of the followers of Rav Kook and the ‘common sense’ perspective on contemporary Jewish life in the Diaspora are each focused on different aspects of Jewish life. These three elements are temporally and geographically distinct and they draw on distinct disciplines as well (history theology sociology). And yet these three arguments combine to reinforce ‘negation of the exile’ ideology from historical religious and pragmatic vantage points. It is thus not surprising that in the second half of the twentieth century שלילת הגולה was ‘common sense’ in its most literal sense — the way in which most members of the community have naturally understood the Jewish condition the role of Israel and its relation to world Jewry.

3. An Educational Deliberation
I have thus far portrayed three areas of impact of Zionist thought (classical Zionist history, Religious Zionism, and popular narrative) and its relation to Diaspora Judaism. Classical Zionism negates the Diaspora in pursuit of a goal of normalizing Judaism and the Jewish people, of living an authentic life in our national homeland. The crisis narrative was rooted in the claim that Jews are not safe living among the nations. The only assurance of security is autonomy in our own sovereign state. Contemporary Religious Zionism is shaped, in differing degrees, by the vision of R. Zvi Yehuda and Gush Emunim. At its core, it is a messianic vision that sees the establishment of the State as a step towards the ultimate redemption.

While, on the one hand, we can understand how these three impact areas combine to tell a compelling story of Zionism in general and Religious Zionism in particular, it is important to think about each of these critically and educationally. Joseph Schwab, professor of education at the University of Chicago, described the four commonplaces that make up every educational setting: the teacher, the students, the subject matter and the milieu (the community and culture of the particular school). To educate properly, all four commonplaces must be considered. All teachers are not the same — not in disposition, educational philosophy, or temperament; and, of course, each student is different as well. In the same vein, each community is different. To teach is to consider the subject matter in light of all of these commonplaces and carefully balance each in the context of the lesson.

In a sense, ideology differs, by definition, from this formulation of the educational enterprise. Ideologies are abstractions, ideas that impose themselves on realities – or attempt to do so – without regard for the lived experiences nor the views of its target. In this sense, ideologies are reproductive technologies; mechanisms for creating and reproducing shared practices and values over generations. Schools, in such systems, are reproductive institutions serving the values of the ideology. However, for Schwab, education is an encounter, a space where the commonplaces come together; meaningful education requires that each of the commonplaces be seriously considered in the educational moment. In our setting, that means that teaching Israel requires that we carefully consider the teacher, the students, the material and the social context or community that comprise the educational moment.

Our milieu: a Modern Orthodox American Jewish community deeply proud and unwaveringly supportive of the State of Israel, a minority of whom will shift their lives overseas and settle in Israel and the majority of whom will not. But the overwhelming majority of our students and their families are strong Zionists, seeking to contribute to the State of Israel and the Jewish people. The educational question: might their existence, the reality of their (our) very being serve as a challenge to classic Zionist ideology? In my view, the mere existence and certainly the flourishing of the Diaspora community over centuries should become a live factor in considering what Zionism means, who is included and how best to teach it. These educational questions can and should be applied to each of the three impact areas.

I have already raised the concern that Classical Zionist history minimizes the significance of a reality that has been a part of the Jewish people since the destruction of the first Temple: that Jews have lived, flourished and been Jewishly creative while in the Diaspora. That approach, in turn, shapes the relationship, or relative lack thereof, between Jews in Israel and those in the Diaspora.

Regarding the crisis narrative, when we reflect upon the state of Jewish life and Jewish communities worldwide, we are forced to account for the lived experiences and perspectives of Jews in the Diaspora, and in the American Diaspora in particular. It is fair to say that Jewish communities in North America are living in an unprecedented era of Jewish thriving and flourishing, safety and security. The current state of Jewish life suggests a narrative that is different from the recent and more distant past. As the iEngage curriculum states it:

The difficulty in perpetuating this [crisis] narrative arises from the decrease in the world’s population of “Jews at risk” coupled with the political, economic, and cultural success of world Jewry, particularly in Western countries. Experiencing Jewish vitality, creativity, and self-confidence has made the narrative of crisis less meaningful and certainly less motivating to Western Jews. Because most Jews—especially those in North America—do not see themselves as being in imminent danger, a crisis-based narrative of support for Israel is antiquated and inconsequential for ever-widening circles of Jews.

Parallel to the successful experience of world Jewry is the success story of the State of Israel. Without trivializing the dangers that Israel still faces on a daily basis, one can readily see that the country’s military power and prowess make a narrative of crisis less compelling. Add in the country’s economic vitality, and “selling” Israel as a nation in need of help to survive becomes increasingly difficult.15Ibid.

Young American Orthodox students and adults do not experience the crisis narrative. Their lives are lived in strong, wealthy Jewish Diaspora communities. They see opportunities for professional and material success, social standing and political influence. They have grown up with an Israel that is militarily the strongest country in the Middle East, economically prosperous and growing, and a Start-Up Nation that is the model to emulate. While they still feel the danger and uncertainty through news of terror attacks in Israel, Young American Jews believe that we are living in relative security and not in existential crisis both in North America and in Israel.

Finally, how do our students internalize contemporary Religious Zionist ideas? While a large segment of the Modern Orthodox community does interpret the evolution of the State of Israel as a step towards redemption, most Jews in the Diaspora, including some Modern Orthodox Jews, do not. In the 1950’s, one could be a Religious Zionist and fall on either side of this question. Today, the messianic understanding has become “common sense” in the dati-leumi and Modern Orthodox communities.

Together, these factors create a challenging dilemma when thinking about our average yeshiva high school student and graduate. Most American Jews do not identify with the redemptive, messianic vision of settlement ideology. Most Modern Orthodox Jews do, at least nominally. At the same time, most of our graduates remain in the Diaspora. A gap exists between ideology and practice. How should we educate around this? One option is to lean in. We should teach that we should all make aliya – and if we don’t, we should at least express a hope to do so one day. Sometimes the gap between personal ideology and practice generates feelings of guilt. Sometimes, we respond by compartmentalizing – our ideas in one place and our practice in another. I believe that there is another approach. We are uniquely positioned to give voice to a new American Zionism and offer a broader and more inclusive version of Religious Zionism today.

4. Israel and Diaspora: A Different Perspective
Not all Jews have “negated the exile.” Multiple arguments have been put forward for the importance of Jewish life in the Diaspora. Over the past century, the Jewish people has even had its share of pure Diasporists, those who believed that Jews belong in the Diaspora. This position stemmed, at times, from practical concerns: the belief that Jews would be safe when they assimilated into modern society.16Some believe that Jews must live in the Diaspora because we have a responsibility to introduce people to Judaism. Imagine a United States where Americans are unfamiliar with Jews; an America without the major centers of vibrant Jewish life, where Americans do not personally know or would never have met a Jew. One can articulate a “shluchim” approach to Diaspora Judaism. We are cultural emissaries for Judaism in the wilderness. I thank Gillian Steinberg for articulating this approach from personal experience.

For others, Diaspora is a matter of theological principle, as in the belief of the Neturei Karta that only God should return the Jewish people to Israel. For still others, choosing Diaspora is rooted in cultural and political concerns. Daniel and Jonathan Boyarin have argued that the richest cultural production of the Jewish people occurred when in the Diaspora.17See Jonathan Boyarin and Daniel Boyarin, Powers of Diaspora (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2002). See also Daniel Boyarin, A Traveling Homeland: The Babylonian Talmud as Diaspora (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2017). Like the classical Zionist position, this, too is a coherent and understandable stance. But it is not ours. The fact remains that our school community is composed primarily of families of staunch religious Zionists who do not plan on making aliya and, isolated moments of guilt aside, do not see that choice as a contradiction. Is there principle behind such a position?

We have thus far articulated two models of the relationship between Israel and the Diaspora, negation of the exile on the one hand and a Diasporist position on the other. Both see the question of “where should Jews live” as a zero sum game, a binary question with a principled, singularly correct answer. But other models have long existed. Ahad Ha’am, for instance, formulated a third option, a ‘center and periphery’ model that placed Israel at the center of Jewish existence and the Diaspora composed of peripheral Jewish communities that draw meaning and energy from the cultural center in Israel. In this view, Diaspora communities are valid but secondary to their central community. While this approach validates Jewish existence in the Diaspora, it does not see a positive, contributing value to Jewish life in the Diaspora. The benefits go in one direction, from Israel, the cultural center, to its satellite communities around the world. I would like to explore a fourth model, one that acknowledges the Jewish nation in its entirety, in Israel and the Diaspora. Taking this model seriously entails a shift in our understanding of Jewish peoplehood and perhaps even the religious significance of the State of Israel.

A. Dual centers
Simon Rawidowicz traces the life of the Jewish people as it flourished in two parallel centers, one in Israel and one in exile, originally in Babylon. These parallel centers complemented and enriched each other, developing their own independent and interdependent Jewish cultures.18Rawidowicz developed his view over the course of the 900+ pages of his Hebrew two volume work, Babylon and Jerusalem. As the first chair of the department of Near Eastern and Jewish Studies at Brandeis University, he wrote on a wide range of topics relating to Jewish thought and philosophy. Viewed from this perspective, we note that the Jewish people have, for almost all of their history, extended beyond the territorial borders of their homeland, with Jewish life thriving in and enriched by the surrounding culture — not only while in exile from their homeland but even while a Jewish community was thriving within the borders of Israel. For Rawidowicz, this suggests an entirely different model of Israel-Diaspora relations, one where the Jewish people, as a complete people, are centered in two places, each enriching the other.19Noam Pianko, The Roads Not Taken (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2010), pp. 70-93. See also David Myers, Between Jew and Arab, (Waltham: Brandeis University Press, 2008), pp. 55-87.

Thus far, I have articulated four possible models of the relationship between Israel and the Diaspora: 1) negation of the exile, 2) a Diasporist model, 3) the center and periphery model of Ahad Ha’am and 4) the dual centers model of Simon Rawidowicz.20It would be interesting to present these models to students, faculty and parents and ask which most resonates for them as the ideal. Data from such a survey would be quite informative. In recent years, I have become very moved by Rawidowicz and his claim. While in Talmudic times, the Babylonian community seemed the more significant of the two centers, in today’s world, the State of Israel is certainly the more significant center. At the same time, Zionism has much to gain from cultivating these two centers and nurturing dialogue and cultural cooperation between these centers. There are nationalistic, ethical and pragmatic reasons to openly acknowledge and support Jewish communites in the Diaspora. There is a distinct power and opportunity in cultivating a dual-centers approach between the Israeli and North American communities. In negating the Diaspora, theorists have manipulated the way that we read our past and narrate our present. Refashioning the Israel-Diaspora relationship can help us better prepare for the future; it can reshape our understanding of Jewish national identity and our ultimate goals as a people.

B. Jewish Peoplehood
The past fifteen years have seen the resurgence of the idea of Jewish Peoplehood, a term coined by Mordechai Kaplan in the 1950’s and significant to his vision of Zionism, as we will discuss below. The term itself raises the familiar question of whether to view the Jews as a nation, a state or a religion, three categories that often blend into each other but we would do well to distinguish.

The three terms reflect distinct ways of viewing the Jewish people and their relationship to territory. The state is a bounded space, its population contained inside of it. While loyalties might extend beyond those borders, those loyalties suggest a benevolence, a reaching out beyond the primary obligations of the state. The Diaspora population is secondary. Judaism as a religion raises questions of who is a Jew and the criteria for membership that are of enormous importance, questions that are fiercely debated today. As a nation, Jews are a people that extend beyond specific borders. Despite the dispersion of the Jews and their geographic fragmentation, Jews have remained a people, a nation. That “miracle of the Diaspora,” the idea of Jewish peoplehood, must be maintained alongside the idea of the Jewish state. Perhaps we should formulate the concepts this way: rather than the idea of a Jewish nation-state, we need to proudly declare the Jewish nation as complement to, standing alongside, the Jewish State.

Viewing the Jewish entity in this way can significantly impact the conceptualization and implementation of the Zionist ideal. Noam Pianko explored early models of Zionism that supported but did not limit the entirety of the Jewish enterprise to the idea of the Jewish State. Others went further, proposing a counter-state model of Zionism, a position that supports Jewish national autonomy while questioning the morality of the nation-state. Pianko explores the thought of both Rawidowicz and Kaplan. Kaplan’s ideas in particular challenge us to think carefully about morality, national identity and the various collective minorities with whom we might share space.

While not primarily addressing the question of Israel-Diaspora relations, Kaplan’s thought is shaped, at its core, by a concept of Jewish peoplehood or a concept of a Jewish nation that extends beyond territorial borders.21Pianko, The Roads Not Taken, 95-133. The Jewish nation has been, for centuries, a challenge to the concept of the nation-state. By virtue of its Diasporic existence, the Jewish people have shown that communities of shared value and practice exist beyond sovereignty. The Jews served as a moral challenge to national rulers of every sort: how does a sovereign balance the desire for a unified national identity with the acknowledgement of the cultural difference within his midst? Can a nation-state be both unified around that shared identity and respectful of difference that accompanies multiculturalism? The modern history of the Jewish people could serve as the history of national responses to those questions.

Kaplan thought carefully about the question of the status of minorities and the opportunities for minority cultural expression in America as it affected Judaism in America. He was concerned that American democracy would have difficulty finding space for Jewish national expression. More broadly, could collective minorities express themselves as a people in a state with an overarching national identity? Kaplan argued that it is a moral imperative to acknowledge such rights and create that space. His was an argument for cultural pluralism, following Horace Kallen, the coiner of that term and a kindred spirit in their vision for America as well as their conception of Zionism.22Ibid., 103-116. The nation-state should have a unifying identity but must allow collective minorities the freedom to express themselves. In the United States, this argument transformed the Jewish experience, greatly expanding the freedom to live as Jews, to observe holy days, to establish schools, to abide by kashrut laws and so much else.

Kaplan was an ardent Zionist. His Zionism was deeply informed by the idea of Jewish peoplehood, his vision for democracy in America and the moral questions of statehood. To quote Pianko: “The intellectual origins of national civilization are integrally connected to Kaplan’s interest in formulating a counterstate variation of Zionism. Kaplan understood progress as the replacement of territorial, racial and statist nationalisms with collective cohesion tied to religious traditions, shared values and connections to a homeland. He endeavored to create an alternate, ethical ideal of nationhood that would affirm national partiality without undermining universal principles of individual rights, human equality and free choice.”23Ibid., 127.

It is challenging to consider Kaplan’s ideas in our current climate. Kaplan advocated a counterstate model, one that is neither realistic nor ideal. Yet it does open the possibility of complementary political structures, each reinforcing the ideals of the other (a political reconceptualization of Rawidowicz’s cultural centers). From a values perspective, Judaism has been the prototype of a diasporic community, seeking collective minority rights and an atmosphere of respect, tolerance and freedom of expression. In its diasporic version, the Jewish community in America has challenged its government to live up to those ideals, to make the United States a beacon of both individual human rights and communal freedom of expression. In Pianko’s view, American Zionists in the first half of the twentieth century played some role in formulating and disseminating these ideas. And these are the ideas that have come to distinguish American freedom from European Enlightenment.

Following this train of thought, the State of Israel, then, should serve as the mirror image of the American diasporic community. As the latter has helped show its country the way to respect its minority collectives, the State of Israel is charged with realizing those values as Jews sovereign in their own land. Judaism has existed for centuries in the Diaspora precisely in order to highlight the rights and the value of minorities in society; Israel, as sovereign, has the opportunity and responsibility to model how to incorporate minorities into its society, to model, as sovereign, the political lesson that Judaism itself has taught the world. The State of Israel is, then, the historic opportunity to realize the Jewish values of respect, tolerance, human dignity and the welfare of the members of its society.

Considered in this way, the relationship between Israel and the Diaspora is informed by the political self-understanding of the Jewish community. If we took this idea seriously, collaboration between the Israeli and American Jewish communities would be vital in order to realize our mission and goal. Rather than tension and a widening gap between the two communities, there would be a need for shared strategic thinking and global planning.

C. Inspiring the Religious Life of the Jewish People
As mentioned above, most Religious Zionist youth are taught to see the State of Israel as the vehicle for the redemption, as messianic expression. A reasonable consequence of this idea: those who do not join the Jewish people in Israel are missing the opportunity to fully participate in the messianic process. It is less common but no less plausible to grant religious significance to the State of Israel without shaping it in messianic terms – or, at least, being more modest in one’s messianic claims. It is not our task to thoroughly engage the moral and theological questions that have been raised when messianic claims have been challenged in recent decades by governmental decisions and political realities. Still, for some, those very questions provide one reason to consider conceptualizing our understanding of the State of Israel in religious terms that are not solely messianic. Doing so is also more inclusive and provides opportunities for Jews to serve as a light unto the nations both in Israel and in the Diaspora, as citizens of the Jewish nation in its dual or multiple centers.

David Hartman writes, “From my perspective, the religious meaning one gives to events relates not to their divine origin but to their possible influence on the life of Torah. If an event in history can be a catalyst for a new perception of the scope of Torah, if it widens the range of halakhic action and responsibility, if it provides greater opportunities for hearing God’s mitzvoth, then this already suffices to endow the event with religious significance, for it intensifies and widens the way God can be present in the daily life of the individual and the community. One can religiously embrace modern Israel not through a judgment about God’s actions in history but through an understanding of the centrality of Israel for the fullest actualization of the world of Mitzvoth.”24David Hartman, A Living Covenant: The Innovative Spirit in Traditional Judaism (New York: The Free Press, 1985), 281.

It is easy to imagine how Jewish communities in Israel and the Diaspora can be mutually supportive, working together to strengthen the ethical, moral and religious standing of a life of Torah and mitzvot around the world. This is a naturally inclusive perspective of the State of Israel.

A broad conception of Jewish peoplehood that includes dual or multiple centers in Israel and the Diaspora, offering complementary, mutually reinforcing expressions of the beauty of Jewish life, of a life of Torah, is a Zionist message that Jews in the modern world could embrace, which pushes us to consider: to what degree are Jews in America embracing the Zionist message? What role can Modern Orthodoxy and its youth play in strengthening American Judaism’s engagement with Israel and Israel’s connection to the Diaspora?

5. Trends in Israel-Diaspora relations
A recent report of the Jewish Peoplehood Policy Institute describes Israel-Diaspora relations as follows: “The overall trend in the relations between Jews in Israel and the Diaspora is for the younger generation in both Israel and the Diaspora to be less and less interested in the fate of their fellow Jews overseas. Relations between Israel and the Jewish People in the Diaspora are strong, but are likely to face decline. The younger generation in the Diaspora is removed from the dramatic historical events that accompanied the establishment of the State of Israel. The younger generation is more likely to be exposed to negative views of Israel and its policies and has almost no experience of identification with Israel as a source of pride. It is less concerned about Israel and its future and has less of an emotional attachment to the country.

Another factor is the radical and growing difference between living as a Jew in Israel and a Jew in the Diaspora in terms of Jewish individual life experience, socio-economic structures and public agendas in so far as Jewish issues are concerned. However, in other matters, the lifestyles, ambitions, and hopes of Jews living in Israel and the Diaspora are converging as part of broader trends of cultural globalization and Westernization.”25Avi Gil and Einat Wilf, 2030: Alternative Futures for the Jewish People (Jerusalem: The Jewish People Policy Institute, 2010), 51-52.

More recent studies of JPPI and others have suggested that we would do well to “distance” ourselves from the “distancing” terminology. American Jews continue to have very strong connections to the State of Israel. But, as Theodore Sasson suggests, they are realigning their relationship with Israel, both the way that they view the role of Diaspora Jews and the basis and core of their relationship with the State. The early 1950’s until the late 1980’s can be described as a period of mass mobilization on the part of the American Jewish community in support of Israel. This mobilization took three basic forms: financial support through organizations, such as UJA and Israel Bonds, and tourism; political action through AIPAC, JCRC and others; and aliya. With increased communication and travel, that three-pronged approach has changed. People have more direct connections, personally and professionally, with institutions, causes and culture in Israel. However, there is a sense of increasing polarization in the political views between American Jews and Israelis.26Theodore Sasson, “Mass Mobilization to Direct Engagement: American Jews’ Changing Relationship to Israel,” Israel Studies, Vol. 15, No. 2 (May 2010), 173-195. There is less idealization of Israelis and Israel does not unify Jews across the communal spectrum as it once did. But this increased disagreement might not be a sign of weakness.

A JPPI report from 2014 states:

Diaspora Jews look at Israel’s identity in their own unique ways:

  • Israel’s character has significant influence on how “Judaism” is regarded around the world by Jews and non-Jews. For example, it is likely to affect the degree of the young generation’s devotion to its Jewish identity and at the same time is likely to affect attitudes of non-Jews toward the Diaspora Jews who live among them.
  • Diaspora Jews are members of a minority group in their home countries; in Israel, Jews are the majority. This distinction is relevant to the great importance that Diaspora Jews attach to minority rights in Israel and to human rights in general.27Shmuel Rosner, Jewish and Democratic: Perspectives From World Jewry (Jerusalem: The Jewish People Policy Institute, 2014), 7.

Diaspora Jews increasingly believe that they have a right for their voices to be heard by Israel:

  • the right of Diaspora Jews to express their views on issues being decided in Israel was a central topic of discussion.
  • their growing assertiveness in expressing criticism of Israel was conspicuous, particularly on subjects related to Israel’s Jewish identity.
  • Many participants emphasized that because Israel’s policy and its world image have an impact on Diaspora Jews’ security and wellbeing, they have the right to voice their opinions.
  • Conspicuous, too, was the wish of most discussants that Israel consult with Diaspora Jews on a regular basis on issues close to their hearts. It was emphasized that this consultation would strengthen solidarity between Israel and the Diaspora.28Ibid.

This study suggest that, rather than distancing themselves from Israel, Diaspora Jews want to participate in the conversation and believe that they have a role to play as members of the Jewish nation. The more central question is: can conditions be established that would foster a meaningful partnership between these varied Jewish centers?

6. Now what?
The various forms of “negation of the exile” ideology have resulted in dismissing the significance of Diaspora Judaism. And in the Orthodox community, messianic Religious Zionism has influenced not only our religious worldview but our political one as well. I would argue for a pragmatic Religious Zionism that considers the entire Jewish nation as central to its mission. Viewing the Jewish people as a nation first grants us the opportunity to see the strengths and accomplishments — as well as the weaknesses and challenges — of both Jewish sovereignty and Jews as a collective minority. With complementary communities, the Jewish nation can strengthen its national identity as well as reap the benefits of cultural hybridity with all of its cultural richness and possibility.

Israel-Diaspora relations have been shaped by “negation of the exile” ideology and have largely been unidimensional, with resources, both capital and human, moving primarily from the Diaspora to Israel, with Israel bearing the great responsibility of absorbing large numbers of immigrants at once. That unidirectional relationship was expressed via fundraising, political action and aliya, and is also expressed via the curriculum of Jewish day schools where students learned about Zionism, its history and its people. I have experienced that relationship as a hierarchical, even patronizing, relationship. The pre-1967 state depended on funds and political connections from its American brothers and sisters. The unidirectional movement reflected the dependence of the fledgling Jewish state on the American Jewish community. With the dramatic successes and the flourishing of the State, accompanied by the messianic fervor of the post-1967 era, the situation seemed to reverse itself. Admittedly, this perspective is also rooted in my own experience as a student and an educator. (Usually) well-meaning Israeli rabbis and leaders seek to inspire American students by telling them that they all belong in Israel because it is their home, the place where all Jews belong. I have, too often, had to do ‘damage control’ when an Israeli speaker’s remarks were off-putting to the young American audience. We seem to be stuck in a power dynamic that obscures the remarkable potential of partnership and mutuality.

That relationship should move in two directions. Mutual concern, respect and interest will create new opportunities to enrich the Jewish nation. As Diaspora Jews have raised funds in support of Israel, the Israeli government and institutions should be interested in and contribute to Diaspora projects as well. But this is not about fundraising alone. Israeli students should learn about and get to know communities in the Diaspora just as Diaspora schools learn about Israel. Israelis could consider the political impact of their actions on Jews of the Diaspora in a more conscious manner and learn about Diaspora Jews’ thoughts and concerns. The same is true on religious and cultural levels as well.

In other words, a Religious Zionist educational environment that values the contributions of all members of the Jewish nation, in Israel and the Diaspora, would encourage mutuality and openness, each community with a desire to learn about and from the other.

And how might such a reenvisioning impact life in school? First, we must develop language that expresses our deep commitment to Religious Zionism as a movement that is shaped and strengthened by the Jewish nation, in both Israel and the Diaspora. Leaders of each community, when speaking with the other, would acknowledge the contributions and validity of each community.

Further, each of Schwab’s commonplaces changes slightly, insofar as Israel-Diaspora relations are concerned, when viewed from the perspective of a global Jewish nation composed of communities in both Israel and Diaspora in contrast to a hierarchical State-Diaspora relationship.
At SAR, for example, we have hosted a number of teacher/educator delegations from Israel, each group exploring a different aspect of their educational program. We have experienced a slight uptick in such visits in the recent past. The collaborative possibilities are strong. During those meetings, teachers and administrators from both groups were struck by the realization that, despite significant cultural differences between our respective populations, we were struggling with similar educational challenges, such as motivating students in tefilla, compelling teaching Talmud and providing insights into the ‘real and complex’ Israel. The relationship was respectful and not patronizing on either side, concluding with a shared sentiment that all would benefit from more sustained engagement with the other group. We discussed, among other issues, differences between private and public Jewish education and some of the benefits and challenges of each, comparative standards regarding the physical plant, how budgets are set, class size, coeducation, curriculum and programming. One could imagine how Jewish education overall would be strengthened by such collaboration.

As for students: Israeli and Diaspora students simply do not know each other. On the one hand, their lives and life choices differ vastly; and yet, as teenagers, they share much in common. As a parent of American children, I am struck by the difference in goal setting of high school students in America in contrast to Israel. High school students in the U.S. are concerned about college and career, making the most of their personal opportunities. Israeli high school students are deciding in what capacity they will contribute to the future of their countries: to which division in the IDF do they hope to be admitted or what type community service they will do. These are very differently oriented questions, one geared to individual achievement and the other to communal contribution. Jewish education values both. But different communities prioritize differently for reasons that might or might not be within their control. The Jewish people would be stronger if our students — and their teachers — learned from each other, knew each other and understood the lives of the other in a more profound way regarding this and many other issues.

A Religious Zionist school that values Diaspora life should develop curricula that reflect its commitment to both Israel and Diaspora communities; and imagine if Israeli schools would do the same! Many Israelis are not familiar with the variations of Diaspora communities and do not have opportunity to learn about those communities in school. Currently, most Religious Zionist schools in the U.S. have some form of Zionist education; however, exploring and acknowledging the power of Diaspora is impolitic. And, unfortunately, we find little if any interest in Diaspora culture in Israeli curricula. In addition to history, a discipline that clearly lends itself to this issue, Judaic Studies offers rich possibilities as well. In Tanakh, texts of the destruction of the Temple, especially Jeremiah and those of the Persian period (Ezra-Nehemiah, Daniel and Esther) raise interesting issues related to this topic if, indeed, one is inclined to find them. In the Talmud as well, the sugya in Ketubot 110b-11a certainly serves as a prime example of a number of others. The very existence of the Babylonian Talmud alongside the Jerusalem Talmud invites exploration of this issue, which is precisely the argument of Rawidowicz’ tome.

And, perhaps most fundamentally, the milieu. American Jews live as a proud and confident collective minority in the United States. The culture of this country breeds sensitivity to individual rights, respect for the Other and the acceptance of difference. The Jewish experience as a minority deepens and actualizes our appreciation for those values. In contrast, living in Medinat Yisrael infuses one with collective pride; a spirit of nationalism, the strength and confidence that comes with sovereignty; and the responsibility, vigilance and even fear that accompany defending one’s borders against the enemy. These differing experiences have the capacity to shape very different political mindsets, both of which are important for us as a nation. That dual consciousness can help us best balance communitarian values with respect for individual freedoms. Living in one milieu, we will each be more naturally sensitive to that set of values; but we must absorb the other as well. The difference between seeing these experiences as mutually reinforcing rather than a zero sum binary is profound. Too often, in my experience, political discussion between friends or family in Israel and the Diaspora are fraught — or we avoid them entirely — because we split. The Diaspora Jews take the more liberal side, and the Israelis the more hawkish view. We probably intuit that there is truth in the middle. More importantly, we should embrace the values of the other community, precisely the values to which we are less exposed. Being open to and internalizing both sets of values will help bring Diaspora and Israeli communities together in a mutually reinforcing embrace.

This last point highlights the unique possibilities for the Modern Orthodox community, a group that is relatively nationalistic when compared to the broader Jewish community and, as Americans, relatively individualistic and liberal. Perhaps there is a role to play in bridging the gap between Israeli nationals and liberal American Jews.

Finally, as pragmatic Religious Zionists, part of our stated mission can be to work to bridge the perceived gap between Israel and Diaspora youth, between citizens of Israel and the Diaspora.


Throughout my 25+ years in education, students have always asked, “why do you live in the U.S.? Why have you not made aliya?” And I would always feel uncomfortable. I would say something about wanting to contribute, to help strengthen the Jewish people; that I felt that I had more to give in the United States. But a pang of guilt always came along with it. I still get the pang; it now comes with less guilt.

  • 1
    Noam Marans, ed. The A.B. Yehoshua Controversy: An Israel-Diaspora Dialogue on Jewishness, Israeliness, and Identity (New York: Dorothy and Julius Koppelman Institute on America Jewish-Israeli Relations, American Jewish Committee, 2006), p. 61.
  • 2
    Yael Zerubavel, Recovered Roots: Collective Memory and the Making of Israeli National Tradition (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1995), 18
  • 3
    Gideon Aran, Kookism: The Roots of Gush Emunim, Jewish Settlers’ Sub-Culture, Zionist Theology, Contemporary Messianism (Jerusalem: Carmel, 2013) [Hebrew]
  • 4
    Haim Hazaz, “The Sermon [Ha-Drasha],” Selected Stories [Sipurim Nivcharim] (Tel-Aviv: Dvir, 1952), 147-163. [Hebrew] Web:http://tarbut.cet.ac.il/ShowItem.aspx?ItemID=818ad65e-230c-4dac-8aad-4198b397540a&lang=HEB
  • 5
    Carl L. Becker, “What Are Historical Facts?” Detachment and the Writing of History: Essays and Letters of Carl L. Becker. Ed. Phil L. Snyder (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1967), 61.
  • 6
    Zerubavel, Recovered Roots, 17-18.
  • 7
    Ibid., 18.
  • 8
    Ruth R. Wisse, Jews and Power (New York: Schocken, 2007), 11.
  • 9
    Aran, Kookism, 139-177.
  • 10
    Ibid, 117-120.
  • 11
    Eliezer Don-Yehiya, “The Negation of Galut in Religious Zionism,” Modern Judaism, Vol. 12, No. 2 (May 1992), 141.
  • 12
    Ibid, p. 143.
  • 13
    Donniel Hartman, “Israel and World Jewry: The Need for a New Paradigm,” Havruta Vol. 7 (Summer 2011), 25.
  • 14
    Engaging Israel: Foundations for a New Relationship (Jerusalem: Shalom Hartman Institute, 2011), 8.
  • 15
  • 16
    Some believe that Jews must live in the Diaspora because we have a responsibility to introduce people to Judaism. Imagine a United States where Americans are unfamiliar with Jews; an America without the major centers of vibrant Jewish life, where Americans do not personally know or would never have met a Jew. One can articulate a “shluchim” approach to Diaspora Judaism. We are cultural emissaries for Judaism in the wilderness. I thank Gillian Steinberg for articulating this approach from personal experience.
  • 17
    See Jonathan Boyarin and Daniel Boyarin, Powers of Diaspora (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2002). See also Daniel Boyarin, A Traveling Homeland: The Babylonian Talmud as Diaspora (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2017).
  • 18
    Rawidowicz developed his view over the course of the 900+ pages of his Hebrew two volume work, Babylon and Jerusalem. As the first chair of the department of Near Eastern and Jewish Studies at Brandeis University, he wrote on a wide range of topics relating to Jewish thought and philosophy.
  • 19
    Noam Pianko, The Roads Not Taken (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2010), pp. 70-93. See also David Myers, Between Jew and Arab, (Waltham: Brandeis University Press, 2008), pp. 55-87.
  • 20
    It would be interesting to present these models to students, faculty and parents and ask which most resonates for them as the ideal. Data from such a survey would be quite informative.
  • 21
    Pianko, The Roads Not Taken, 95-133.
  • 22
    Ibid., 103-116.
  • 23
    Ibid., 127.
  • 24
    David Hartman, A Living Covenant: The Innovative Spirit in Traditional Judaism (New York: The Free Press, 1985), 281.
  • 25
    Avi Gil and Einat Wilf, 2030: Alternative Futures for the Jewish People (Jerusalem: The Jewish People Policy Institute, 2010), 51-52.
  • 26
    Theodore Sasson, “Mass Mobilization to Direct Engagement: American Jews’ Changing Relationship to Israel,” Israel Studies, Vol. 15, No. 2 (May 2010), 173-195.
  • 27
    Shmuel Rosner, Jewish and Democratic: Perspectives From World Jewry (Jerusalem: The Jewish People Policy Institute, 2014), 7.
  • 28
Rabbi Tully Harcsztark

Rabbi Tully Harcsztark

Rabbi Harcsztark is the Founding Principal of SAR High School and Dean of Machon Siach. He is the recipient of the 2017 Covenant Award for Excellence in Jewish Education.

Other Work by this Educator