June 29, 2004

Utopias Anyone?

The Jewish Agency’s Vision & Covenant Project has a great post by Professor Yehezkel Dror, Visions as Compass for Policy and Action. In it, he writes:

Since the establishment of the State of Israel nearly no utopias have been written in it or in the Jewish People. This is a sign testifying to the weakness of value creativity and scarcity of future-directed thinking accompanied by lack of long-term policies in many domains. Given the predicaments of the State of Israel and the Jewish People, this endangers the future. Hence the need to encourage and stimulate futuristic imagination and reflection, including writing of utopias and development of realistic visions, inter alia as a basis for policy planning.
Absolutely true--how can we move forward as a people if we do not know what direction we would like to go? So if you, or anyone you know, have the gifts of a poet or novelist, please start imagining the future of the Jewish people. On Zion would be proud to serve as a platform to share your work with the world, no matter at what stage it is in.

Posted by ArielBeery at 08:03 PM | Comments (2029)

Creating New Ideas

I've been reading an incredible book, Futurizing the Jews. Incredible because it attempts to bring an entirely new angle to questioning Zionism, Jewish peoplehood, and the Jewish identity as a whole.

I think the most important idea this books puts forward is accepting the task of envisioning a Jewish identity that adds value to our existence. And so the question remains: is there value-added in being Jewish or a Zionist?

This is a question the Creative Zionist Circle should set out to solve, and this website can provide a forum for. Any ideas? Send us your thoughts.

Posted by ArielBeery at 05:29 PM | Comments (1467)

June 14, 2004

A Letter To On Zion

From Martin Ben Moreh

I was very glad to have had the privilege to attend your first Creative Zionist Circle, as a guest speaker, in a very pleasant coffee shop in New York’s east village. It was my privilege to sit down with a group of 20 Jewish /American students and leaders to participate in a debate about Zionism. The most important thing, in my opinion, in an on-going debating group like the Creative Zionist Circle are the questions and the viewpoints that are raised, and not the desire to find the ‘’right answer’’, which of course does not exist. When I met with you on a cold night in March, I felt the tremendous energy, which was in the room, the freedom to speak and the willingness to listen. People who have inherent leadership qualities, that are enjoying the sharpening of their minds, the deepening of their emotions, and are eager to hear other voices. The success of the group will be in my opinion, in two forms –

· The ability and the desire for a ‘’sounding board’’, which enables a constant exchange of ideas.

· Forming a real camaraderie (chevruta), intellectually and socially – which will enrich all you.

Since that first Creative Zionist Circle, I, from my office in Jerusalem have observed the articles posted on the On Zion site and now, please allow me to participate in this on going debate through a short article.

Zionism – what do we mean when we use this term?

Historically – a movement that started towards the end of the 19th century and was connected to the ‘’Jewish situation’’ in Europe. A growing feeling that 20th century Europe will not be a safe haven for the Jewish people – the vast majority living in Europe. At the end of the 19th century less than one million Jews lived in the US (today, – 5-6 million). To Herzl and many others of the period it looked like there was no way for the Jews to go – therefore he saw the necessity of starting a movement, which would give ‘’the Jewish Problem’’ a national answer.

However what was the content of Zionism?

A political movement led by Hertzl, to give the Jewish People a homeland of their own
A Cultural movement, which talked about creating a center of Jewish culture, which will
inspire the Jewish world – led by Achad Haam

In short what was the problem that the Zionist movement and the 19th century term ‘’Zionism’’ trying to solve?

1. ‘‘The ‘troubles’ of the Jews ‘’– Hertzl,

2. ‘’The ‘troubles’ of Judaism’’ – Achad Haam.

Where are we now?

In 2004 we are living in a very different Jewish world:

There are two main centers of Jewish life:

1.The State of Israel – a modern independent Jewish democratic State, (nearly 6 million Jews), which today, 56 years after its birth, is still trying to define its Jewish culture, its relationship to the sizable non-Jewish minority and its political borders.

2.American Jewry (around 5 million) who enjoy cultural and political freedom as American citizens. US Jewry has come a long way from the end of the 19th century, has created religious streams (Orthodox, Conservative, Reform and Reconstructionists) and a very vibrant Pluralistic Jewish culture. Even though today, as shown in the last surveys over 40% of the Jewish Americans don’t identify their Judaism with Religion and over 50% are not affiliated to any Jewish religious stream.

What are we debating today when we discuss and debate ‘‘ Zionism’’?

Today we still have to answer the same basic question that was debated over a hundred years ago – albeit in completely different circumstances - between Herzl and Achad Haam:

The ‘’troubles’’ of the Jews? - Or possibly each individual one of us as Jews living in a free country.
The ‘’troubles’’ of Judaism? – Where and how should Judaism or the ‘’Judaism’s’’ develop in the future?

Possible subjects for debate within the Creative Zionist Circle:

The place of Israeli in our lives as American Jews? – A real option to fulfill (hagshama) our Jewish lives/or a desire to be part of an ongoing dialogue between the two main centers of contemporary Jewish existence?

How important is it for us to influence the debate raging in Israel – what should be the Jewish content of Jewish democratic State – faced with the problems that exist internally and externally in the region?

Do we want to see Israel as a mirror of Pluralistic Jewish culture in the US?

Should we change our topic from a debate on ‘’Zionism’’, to:
‘’Zionism and Jewish Peoplehood – an ongoing dialogue?’’

Then we are opening the discussion to where each one of us is in his/her Jewish identity and our relationship to the developing Jewish/Israeli content of Jewish State.

Hope you’ll allow me to visit you again on my next trip to NY – later on in the year.
Martin Ben Moreh

Meitar – The College of Judaism as Culture
e-mail : martin4@netvision.net.il
Tel: 972-54-4447064

Posted by ShiraLandau at 12:20 PM | Comments (1262)

June 04, 2004

Fifth Circle, Wed June 9th

The Creative Zionist Circle is holding a summer synthesis.

A summer night is the perfect time to sit back, reflect, dream and make plans for the future.

Follow effective action with quiet reflection. From the quiet reflection will come even more effective action. ” --Anonymous

Please join the creative Zionist circle as we gather for an honest and meaningful night of reflection on the progress of the Creative Zionist Circle, its purpose in the future and your personal goals as part of this unique group.

When: Wednesday, 6/9/04 – 7:00 pm

Where: Upper East Side. Email for directions.

As usual we will provide fine food. We are thinking some fresh summer fruits and some sparkling wine.

Posted by ArielBeery at 07:41 PM | Comments (1081)