Hatikvah Vision – text studies
What makes Israel unique? The miraculous combination of three key concepts: Freedom, Peoplehood, and the Land of Israel. Only in the State of Israel are these concepts able to live in full relationship with each other.
Here you can download four study booklets (chevruta) with traditional and modern texts together with guiding questions, for your use.
Cross-posted with ejewishphilanthropy
Yom Ha’atzmaut? Again? This year of all years?
Whenever I approach Yom Ha’atzmaut with a sinking feeling, I always remember the point made by Professor Yosef Klausner:
“For three hundred and sixty-four days of the year we are busy with criticism. We criticize the nation’s priorities, and the nation’s leaders. We count the many mistakes that our leaders and ministers make… But a nation must have one day in a year that is a real celebration. On that single solitary day, all the prosecutions must cease, and the harsh criticism must stop…”
Klausner wrote these words back in 1953, when the State of Israel was only 5 years old!
So what is it that we should be celebrating on this one day?
Ideally Yom Ha’atzmaut should mark one of the most significant events in Jewish history. It is an event packed with meaning for Jews throughout the world, not just in Israel.
But what is the nature of that “meaning”?
We can’t even come up with a shared narrative.
When does the Israel story begin? 1948? The Dreyfuss Trial? The destruction of the Second Temple? Abraham’s journey?
Would you say that the Holocaust should be part of our Yom Ha’atzmaut narrative? If you have an unequivocal answer to that question, I assure you that you have a friend who would answer the opposite.
For the first time in two thousand years, ever since May 14th, 1948, we have been able to answer all Four Hatikvah Questions with a resounding “Yes!”
To Be? – Yes!
Peoplehood? – Yes!
Free? – Yes!
In Our Land? – Check!
In this brilliant illustration, Shay Charka marks the nine-day roller-coaster between Yom HaShoah, and Yom Ha’atzmaut. Just imagine what answers we might have reached to the Four Hatikvah Questions in 1945…
Do we now share questions about threats to our ongoing existence? Certainly. The desperate arguments will wait for one day.
Do we disagree about the ways in which our heritage, solidarity, and values are expressed? Sure. Let’s put the disagreements on temporary hold.
Are we concerned about Israel’s democratic structures and discourse?
Do we agree on the borders of our Land? On relations with the Palestinians, who say it is their Land too?
All crucial questions. We’ll talk about them on the other 364 days.
Imagine a Yom Ha’atzmaut celebration that chose to focus on these four blessings. The songs, the dances, the speeches, the parties, the performances, that celebrate the four-fold answer of “yes”.
Yom Ha’atzmaut is the day on which the Four Hatikvah Questions turn into exclamation marks.
Pluralism is all well and good, but the amount of different opinions on, approaches to, and definitions of Israel Education, is driving us all crazy.
All of us in Israel Education find ourselves talking at cross-purposes, inadvertently undermining one another, and further confusing an already-challenging discourse. Cacophony is only good when the orchestra is tuning up to play together.
Is there one simple, easily communicated idea that can unify everyone without requiring uniformity?
Is there one way to explain, promote, define, and explore the meaning of Israel to Jews that includes everyone, offends no one, and yet says something useful?
Probably not. It’s a big ask, after all. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t keep trying…
We at Makom call our current approach 4HQ – the Four Hatikvah Questions.
Our feeling is that no matter what your answers are, or what the answers are that you intend your students to emerge with, the Four Hatikvah Questions are common to all. They emerge, of course, from the penultimate line in the Hatikvah Anthem: Lihiyot Am Hofshi B’Artzenu – To Be A People, Free In Our Land.
Taken on its own, “To Be A People, Free In Our Land” is a universal aspiration, by no means unique to the Jews.
The Kurds aspire to exist as a Kurdish People, Free in the land of Kurdistan. The Scottish People seriously considered becoming Free in Scotland. Catalonians, Tibetans, and Palestinians (we’ll come back to them in a later blog) – all aspire to be Peoples free in their lands. Zionism is the Jewish version of this universal (and therefore one might argue universally legitimate) aspiration: To be the People of Israel, Free in the Land of Israel.
All that is required for the educator, is to break this line down into its four Hebrew words, and add a question mark to each:
· To Be? – what does it take to survive? how can we thrive?
· People? – what does it mean to be connected to my People? my heritage? our ideals?
· Free? – are we democratic? are we responsible? are we creative?
· Our Land? – why land? which land? whose land?
Israel is an ongoing answer to these Four Hatikvah Questions.
Those mainly concerned with Advocacy might find they focus on “To Be?”, at the expense of other questions. Those on the left may emphasize “Freedom?” without digging into the existential threats hovering around the question of “To Be”. Some are more drawn to the universal ideas of “To be” and “Free”: Others tend more towards the particularism of “People” and “In Our Land”.
A full, rich curriculum would explore all four.
In future blogs I plan to tease out how 4HQ offers:
- A useful tool to differentiate between Israel’s enemies, and critical friends.
- A way to Ask Big Questions about Israel.
- A “rule of thumb” for taking educational advantage of complex current affairs headlines.
- A model for transforming Israel education in the Jewish world.
- A shared values proposition for the Diaspora and Israel.
As part of our development of the Four Hatikvah Questions – 4HQ – we approached Israeli cartoonist Shay Charka to offer his visual interpretation. We are delighted to present three pairs of images offering contrasting aspects of To Be, Free, and In Our Land, and a fourth image that speaks to the Jewish People.
You’ll note that these genderless humanoids have kind of Magen David/Star of David heads. We shall be using these images throughout our educational work in different contexts. Here we present them all together, without labels. You are invited to label them yourselves!
Yonatan Ariel, Executive Director of Makom, spoke engagingly and entertainingly at the General Assembly of 2011. On this panel, Yonatan plays out what Israel education must become. (Starts at 11:16)
The panel, entitled “Israel: A New Narrative”, was chaired and introduced by John Ruskay, Executive Vice-President and CEO, UJA-Federation of New York, and Yonatan Ariel shared the panel with Yehuda Kurtzer, President of the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America (7:52), and with Elizabeth Wolfe, Chair of UJA Federation of Greater Toronto.
Yonatan Ariel focuses on the Hatikvah Vision: To Be A Free People In Our Land, Yehuda Kurtzer explores the latest work of the Hartman Institute in Israel engagement, and Elizabeth Wolfe speaks of the experiences of Toronto in working with us (26:00).
Click here for the downloadable pdf of the chevruta text study exploring the Jewish People’s connection to the concept of freedom.
Click here for the printable pdf of the chevruta text study exploring the Jewish People’s connection to the Land of Israel.