May 27, 2004

Zionist Circle at Tikkun Leil Shavuot Summary

The Zionist Zen circle at the Tikkun Leil Shavuot event in NYC was a huge success, with over 40 people attending our 3am session which focused on poetry as a form of concentrated emotional expression to explore our emotional root to Zionism, the Jewish People and Israel.

One of the major things that came out of the session was a different idea, however: the idea of holding multiple, parallel circles, on various topics. The collection of ages and populations and interests attending our session made clear that the Zionist Circle idea shouldn't be only focused on young Jewish professionals and college, as it is now, but should also open itself to all interested peoples. We intend to do so through a decentralized model, whereby those interested in holding or hosting Zionist Circles are invited to contact us for ideas on how to initiate a rethinking of Zionism in their community.

We, in particular, will continue to focus on meetings for our own age-group, since that is what we know best, and intend to open up various tracks for different interests within the framework of Zionism and Jewish Peoplehood.

If you have any ideas of specific topics or agenda items that you would like to explore in a group setting, please either join the discussion in the link below, or contact us by clicking the link above. We hope to see you at a future Circle.

Posted by ArielBeery at 12:56 PM | Comments (1102)

May 25, 2004

Circle at Tikkun Leil Shavuot

The Circle is hosting a session at the Tikkun Leil Shavuot held tonight, May 25th, at the Manhattan JCC.

The session, from 3-4am, is entitled "Zionist Zen," and focuses on poetry to explore the particular relationship the Jewish people have to Zionism, the Jewish People, and Israel. Poetry is the best form to explore this relationship, as it packs the most emotion into the least amount of words.

We hope that, through tackling the emotional root tying us to Zionism, we will be better able to understand where we as a generation would like to lead the Jewish People in this new millenium.

Posted by ArielBeery at 02:07 PM | Comments (1083)

May 10, 2004

Article on Zionism By Neusner

Interesting article by Jacob Neusner in the Jerusalem Post. I post the entire text here below:

Discussing programming for the Jewish students at Bard College, a Jewish student activist rejected the proposition that Israel be integral to Jewish Student Organization activities. It is "too controversial and has nothing to do with Judaism, and there are Jewish students who would object," so "we" think that Israel-programming should fall into the hands of a Jewish pro-Israel group separate from the Jewish Student organization: "Israel has nothing to do with the JSO."

To this student I replied, "But millions of Jews throughout the world regard Zionism as integral to Judaism not just to Jewishness. And that is my view too."

To an Israeli who is a professor at Bard, I said, "Welcome to American Judaism." The student went very quiet.

But a student of mine, doing a reading course in Zionist theory and Israeli history with me, smiled from ear to ear. He chimed in, "There are any number of students I know who want little to do with the Jewish student organization because it has no bearing on Israeli questions at all."

WHAT DO we learn from this rather telling exchange?

What I learn is there is no Judaism without Zionism. A Jewish student organization that can exclude Israel from its programming ignores an important part of its mission.

What has made people think otherwise? Abandoning the rigors of Zionist theory in favor of the flaccid pro-Israel propaganda no Torah, just tourism has deprived us of an intellectual foundation for our pro-Israelism, which makes sense only as the realization of Zionism in the here and now.

Zionism speaks in imperatives, or falls silent.
The politics of the day preoccupy us. Issues of theory, Jewish philosophy and Judaic theology, intimidate us. But we pay a heavy price for ignoring Zionism as a philosophy of Jewish existence and as an integral component of the religion, Judaism.

That is a startling indictment when you consider the investment the organized Jewish community makes in pro-Israelism trips to Israel, political activities in support of Israel, the focus on Israeli matters in American Jewish life.

Yet all these practical activities neglect the substance of the Israeli connection, which is Zionist theory concerning all Jews, Israeli and Exilic alike: a people, one people, a people that has a righteous claim on a political state, a people that builds in the Land of Israel not by sufferance but by right.

Pro-Israelism without Zionism leaves the community with little to say when challenged: What have you to do with Zion? Pro-Israelism does not prepare us to advocate the Zionist mission with pride and with dignity. When the Nazis required the Jews of Germany to wear a yellow star, the German Zionists were the ones who responded, "Wear it proudly, that yellow star."

Ignoring Zionism as philosophy and theology we seem to have raised a generation of campus Marranos, glad to enjoy the benefits of an age and a world graced by the Jewish state, but reluctant to identify with the Jewish state as the enterprise of the entire Jewish people.

Posted by ArielBeery at 10:48 PM | Comments (1377)

May 04, 2004

Third Zionist Circle--Identity and Holocaust

The third Creative Zionist Circle, held on Thursday April 29, 2004, in core Circle member Michael Fish's upper-west side apartment, focused on the American Jewish Identity and the Holocaust, and the connection many make between Zionism and the Holocaust.

The Circle began with the movie, One Day in September, giving the group an indirect look into the after-effects of the Holocaust and the way it impacted Jewish and Israeli reactions to anti-Jewish violence. Sitting tightly packed around the living room of the compact New York apartment, attendees lost no time in cutting straight to the heart of the debate.

"I think we need to ask whether Israel or Zionism are existing only to be a solution to some problem--and if so, what do we do when the problem is solved?" Said Edoe Cohen, a student at Columbia's School of General Studies and a new addition to the circle, implying that Israel's existence must be independent of any problem or circumstance. "We had at Columbia a Holocaust memorial day, and so many people showed up. The room was packed. And when we had Israeli Independence day, only one quarter of the people showed up--that just goes to show what they feel strongly about." Others in the group agreed, saying that Israel cannot be justified by the horrors of the Holocaust, and that Zionism cannot be based only on the idea of Jewish survival.

"If you think about it, Zionism was started without a center in Israel," said Aharon Horowitz, another co-founder of the Circle, "it was built as an international movement of Jews invested towards their goal of creating something together, in that case a Jewish state."

But the goals of Zionism were obscured in the fall-out from the Holocaust, and Jews all over the world hold the Shoa as a more important factor of their identity than Israel. This question of identity is central to the larger question of Jewish peoplehood and Zionism, and will be dealt with in future Zionist Circles.

Posted by ArielBeery at 09:14 AM | Comments (1026)