Aliza Kline How does a Jewish community organization meet its fund raising goals while maintaining its integrity and honoring its mission? Most Jewish organizations incorporate honorees into their fundraising events because by honoring influential people, we expand our prospect lists, raise money from new sources, and build a sense of community ownership by celebrating people
There is much hand-wringing among the leadership of Israeli and Diaspora Jewry about the “Jewishness” of young Israeli Jews in general, and their commitment to the relationship with Diaspora Jewry in particular. There is reason to worry, but it is not because of a lack of commitment on the part of young Israelis to their Jewish identity.
In-depth study of both Jewish and general texts is intrinsic to building identity. It fosters inquisitiveness and dialogue, and creates an impetus for creativity – producing new Jewish texts on the civic issues Israeli society faces today. As we begin to establish a secular yeshiva, Bina is working toward producing a Talmud Tel Avivi, modeled on the Talmud Bavli (Babylonian) and Talmud Yerushalmi (Jerusalem) developed by the rabbis in the first to sixth centuries, C.E.
By adopting an approach that seeks to better understand and address the needs of thousands of secular Israelis, it may be possible to turn the tide. Israelis hold the keys to a dynamic Jewish identity: Hebrew, the landscape and language of the Bible; the Jewish calendar; strong family and ethnic and communal ties; and the impulse to mend and shake the world. The challenge is to energize Israelis – “give them back” their Judaism and make them active stakeholders.
A wave of secular Judaism is influencing broad circles of the secular public and creating a new type of conflict and dialogue between Israel’s secular and Orthodox communities. It undermines the very problematic “status quo” that has characterized the central Israeli agenda since independence in 1948, in which the 20 percent of the Israeli population, that is Orthodox, held responsibility to preserve, interpret, and control Judaism in the Israeli public sphere. Some observers muse that this perspective would be opportune for a majority of Jews who live here, and would offer a means to recreate the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic country, a condition that is essential and existential for the state’s future.
Basmat Hazan Arnoff
Individual Voices and Collective History Coming of age in Israel in the 1970s and 1980s, living in a country that was still trying to understand how to experience the memory of the Holocaust, my friends and I were accustomed to relating to the Holocaust in grand, untouchable terms like “destruction,” “disaster,” and “martyrdom… Seemingly from nowhere came three fresh, beautiful, creative works offering a completely new perspective on the Holocaust.
Ioram Melcer and Michal Levertov
exchange letters on Jewish identity in Israel: It’s About Us