“…According to Brandeis, Zionism in America was far more concerned with enabling persecuted Jews from around the world to find a home in Israel than encouraging American Jews to make aliyah. Not dissimilarly, Solomon Shechter issued a courageous endorsement of Ahad Ha’Am’s cultural form of Zionism in 1906… As he argued, Israel would create Jewish culture, but American Jews would take responsibility for maintaining the religious tradition. To prove the point further, Mordecai Kaplan believed that the role of Zionism was to help Jewish civilization throughout the world. So, in short, on an ideological level, American Jews have never been Zionists in the same way as Israeli Jews…”
Philosopher’s retreat, New York, September 2003
The unit – called “Why Israel” – focuses on the most fundamental question pertaining to the raison d’etre of the State of Israel. This question is being raised by Jews around the world, not only students of all ages, but also senior educators and community leaders. Articulating this question and providing the platform for discussing it is the goal of this unit.