Rabbi Daniel L. Lehmann, President of Hebrew College
From my perspective, the “Come Home” videos suggest a profound indictment of Jewish education and identity formation in Israeli secular culture.
The underlying assumption of the videos is that Israeli Jews who live outside of Israel will not have sufficient commitment, motivation or competence to pass on Jewish/Zionist cultural norms to the next generation. Is Israel the only place where Israeli Jews can be active and involved in generating Jewish culture? I hope not.
It is indeed sad to see Israeli Jews who choose not to engage in Jewish and Zionist culture while living in America. There are robust and vibrant opportunities to participate in Jewish life in the United States, but, unlike in Israel, it requires a willful decision.
Israeli education and culture should, if it is true to its own vision, strengthen that will even for those who live, for whatever reason, in the Diaspora.
Israelis should be enticed to come home because they can live a fuller Jewish/Zionist life in Israel, not out of fear that they will assimilate. Fear tactics are a desperate move that reveal a profound absence of a compelling vision for what constitutes a meaningful Jewish national life in our homeland.
Rabbi Daniel L. Lehmann, Hebrew College President