March 29, 2004

Summary of Second Creative Zionist Circle

The Second Creative Zionist Circle was held on March 24, 2003, and focused on the question of whether or not Zionism is linked to the concept of social justice. Discussion began following an excerpt from Martin Buber on the possible directions for national movements, and an article by Avraham Burg on the end of Zionism in the modern Jewish state, and quickly led to a discussion on the goals of Zionism today--as Marla, a student from New York University, asked, "so know that we know what other people think, where do we think Zionism is going?"


In the next stage of the Circle, Ariel Beery, co-sounder of the Creative Zionist Circle and a student at Columbia University, presented his personal vision for the future of the Zionist movement. Ariel spoke about the need to reconnect Zionism with its roots in social justice, and that a practical application of such a reconnection could be for the Jewish people to begin to act collectively to assist the struggling minorities in the Middle East, including the Kurds, the Copts, etc, to gain freedom and respect from their respective countries. This led to the question of whether Zionism need necessarily be only connected to the state of Israel alone, or if Zionism could actually speak about more than a state - but rather, collective movement of the Jewish people towards some goal. While some of the participants agreed that Zionism could offer more than just a nationalistic movement for the Jewish people, others believed that Zionism without Israel as its focus was not Zionism at all.

Many more questions remained after the meeting- testament to the fact that the participants are searching for a meaningful definition of Zionism, Jewish peoplehood and the relationship of the State of Israel and the People of Israel to the World. The search will continue after Pesach, when the group will convene for the third Creative Zionist Circle.

Posted by ShiraLandau at 02:26 PM | Comments (1316)

March 25, 2004

Pics from the Second Circle

Below are two pictures from the second Zionist circle--it was great, 22 people, lively two hours of discussion, good food and wine...and a whole lot of Zionist vision.

Creative Zionist Circle 2a.JPG


Zionist Circle 2.JPG

A summary will be up shortly.

Posted by ArielBeery at 02:36 PM | Comments (1835)

March 22, 2004

Second Zionist Circle

The second Creative Zionist Circle will be held Wed, 3.24.04, at 8pm in an apartment on the Upper East Side.

For this Circle we will be focusing on the possible connections between social justice and Zionism, and the practical implications of such a connection.

To RSVP, email OnZion, and we will send you more information

Here is a more in-depth description of the topic for the second meeting:

In the second meeting we will explore the idea of Zionism as the movement which inspires the Jewish People to define their role in the world and realize their potential, as informed by Jewish traditions and ethics, and grounded upon a common history and origin in a certain land. Ariel Beery will present the position that the best way for the Jewish people to define their role in the world and realize their potential is to draw upon the social justice aspect of Zionism, the Light of Zion, and on their historic origins in the Middle East, and to reach out towards the neighboring nations as brothers and sister in order to better the entire region's existence as a whole.

Posted by ArielBeery at 12:33 PM | Comments (2900)

March 12, 2004

WHAT ZIONISM IS NOT by Yoni Heilman

What is Zionism? That’s a question we had a lot of difficulty with tonight. And if there is one thing we generally agreed on tonight, I think it is that there is no one definition of Zionism. Zionism can be many things, and to try and establish one definition may be equal to deconstructing what Zionism is. However, when you have admitted that Zionism has no strict definition, you are undertaking a serious risk – and that is to take Zionism and make it into whatever you want. I want to clarify that Zionism is not whatever you want....

While there may be no specific definition, there is definitely a general guideline for Zionism. Zionism necessarily has to do with Israel. Zionism is exactly what it says – without any fronts – it has to do with Zion, Israel. To try and force on Zionism any definition that excludes Israel is to change it into something that is not Zionism. Again, while I too think Zionism can be understood as a multitude of things, it necessarily must be related to Israel.

I think that I was not the only person who felt this way…though I didn’t really say anything in our discussion, our speaker Martin Ben-Moreh also expressed that Zionism was ‘the linking of the Jewish Experience and Israel’. So while I did not necessarily agree with his definition of the Jewish Experience, I certainly agree that Zionism is something that connects Jews and Israel, and there is no way to avoid Israel in any discussion of Zionism.

Some of us fell into a trap tonight, and it was the trap that I most feared. Everyone seemed to agree that Zionism was beyond definition, but when the discussion continued, the question moved gradually away from Israel. Our questions about Zionism led many to rephrase the question. What is Judaism? Is Zionism really Jewish morality? Does it have to do with Nationalism? With a global concept of social equality? This was the trap – Zionism without definition grew into an altogether different topic. And yet, I think that this very occurrence proves to us all that Zionism is not any of these other issues. If Zionism were morality, or if Zionism was Judaism, we would not have attempted to change the wording of our question.

This attempt to change our question also seemed to imply that some people thought we should be asking a different question. I disagree. Not only do I believe that we should be asking exactly the question we are, but I even think that everyone else really believes we should be asking the question we are. If our meeting had been a dialogue asking ‘what is Judaism’, an entirely different group of people would have come, discussion would have been very different – perhaps there, some people might have sought to change that question to ask an entirely different one. The fact that we all came to this meeting seems to suggest that we not only want to discuss this specific question, but even more that we all have an attachment to the term Zionism.

I think we all sort of lied – maybe to ourselves – when asked why we came to the meeting. Everyone came with an agenda. I think everyone came with the intention of forcing the rest to accept their own definition of Zionism. I think I have done that in this short message, and I will restate it here, because I cannot hide that fact that I do want to impose my idea of Zionism on all of you. I came to the meeting tonight a little scared. I was scared because any time that questions of this nature are brought up, it shakes my belief system a little bit to know that not everyone shares my ideas of what I consider basic truths, concrete definitions. For me, Zionism has to do with Israel. It must have to do with Israel – otherwise it is not Zionism. I read this Zionist Circle’s original mission statement, and I listened to people speak tonight, and it scares me to think that there is some attempt at separating Zionism and Israel. So I came in order to force Israel and Zionism to remain together, in everyone’s minds.

Remember, however, that I agree that Zionism can be defined in many ways. All of those ways, I would argue, must be connected to Israel. If the definition of Zionism were a balloon, I would agree that the balloon can float in any direction it desires, but the string must be tied down. If the string is not tied to the concept of Israel, then Zionism ceases to be a definition and instead becomes a meaningless term. I have addressed some potential issues people might have – email me if you want to hear them.

Posted by Aharon at 01:05 PM | Comments (2171)

First Circle Summary

21 young thinkers and dreamers--many of them leaders in the Jewish community and in Jewish and Zionist organizations--attended the first Creative Zionist Circle held March 8th in a downtown New York City coffeshop, where they explored together the future of Zionism and the role and identity of the Jewish people.

The topic for discussion for the first circle was the challenges facing Zionism, the relevance of the term, and the prospects for the future. Some in attendance raised their opinions as to the datedness of the term "Zionism," feeling that it carries with it too much political baggage, and that the Jewish people would be better off finding another term, or defining another movement. Others like Alieza Salzberg--one of the organizers of the Creative Zionist Circle, disagreed. "In 50 years, when students learn about Zionism in their schools, what do you want them to associate the term with?"

After discussing in intimate groups the meaning of Zionism and the questions the Jewish people are facing in the present and will face in the future, the circle heard from Martin Ben-Moreh, director of Meitar, the College for Judaism as a Culture. "Zionism for me is continuing to strengthen the State of Israel by instilling social justice," he said, adding that the values of Judaism should be integral in any definition of Zionism. "People should as what it means to be a Jew, not only what it means to be Jewish."

By the time the meeting came to a close, those in attendance agreed that the next meeting should come soon. "I have worked for three years in the organized Jewish world," said Moran Banai, former national director of the Socialist Zionist movement, Hashomer Hatzair, "and I have more questions now than I did then."

Posted by ArielBeery at 10:15 AM | Comments (1448)

March 06, 2004

Invitation

The Creative Zionist Circle

To Envision The Future Of Zionism

Please join us for an evening of stimulating discussion with people passionate about solving the complex issues facing Zionism.

This is not an easy task. The challenge is to think. The future begs your attention.


Our first Creative Zionist Circle meeting was Monday 8 March in New York City. We hope those of you who came left energized and excited about the monumental task of rejuvenating Zionism for our generation. Please use this website as a forum to continue the discussion and raise new issues. Feel free to comment below. Also, if you have a more developed idea, please email it to submissions@onzion.org and we will post it. Have a happy month of Adar.

Posted by at 10:20 PM | Comments (1096)