All In The Family



Session I – What are we?


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Let’s start with a quick challenge, to get the ball rolling…

Here is the Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel.

  • How many times is “Jewish religion” mentioned? Why do you think this is?
  • Compare this to the amount of times you see “Jewish People” mentioned. Why does it appear so often?
  • What might we learn from this about the connection between the Jewish People and the State of Israel? To Full Post

Session II – Looking After Our People


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In the opening conversation, we looked at how the State of Israel was created for and by the “Jewish People”. We explored the difference between the Jewish religion and the Jewish People. Then we began to look at how we connect to the Jewish People.

Now we’d like to look at an example of how Israel expresses its special relationship to the Jewish People. The following is an excerpt from Michael Sandel’s book Justice (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2009, p. 227): To Full Post

Session III – One for all and all for one?


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The final remnants of the Ethiopian Jewish community have now arrived in Israel.

In the meantime, additional humanitarian disasters have struck the African continent. War-torn Eritrea and Sudan began shedding refugees who have been making their way in their thousands towards the less violent lands of Israel. Unlike in Ethiopia, these refugees are not Jewish.

Should Israel fling open her doors to these people, just as she did for the Ethiopian Jews? To Full Post

Session IV – Freedom and Responsibility


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fed logoHow free is your family?

To begin our conversation, here’s some classic Disney… (you might want to begin watching at 1:34)

What do you think this short classic wants us to know about three things:


The Disneys have always been known for their clear moral messaging…

  1. Do you agree with the messages?
  2. And if the magic broom were the family car? To Full Post

Session V – Freedoms that Clash


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We have explored how our relationship to other Jews is based on more than the Torah and religion.

We are a People, עם (Am), and as such acknowledge there may be higher expectations for us to behave differently towards our People and its traditions. We also expect our People to behave differently towards us and the way in which we play out our connection to our traditions.

Now we are looking at the principle of Freedom, and how it can chime with Peoplehood as well as how it can come into tension with Peoplehood.

We are going to look at a subject that has reached the headlines frequently of late – the right of women to pray at the Western Wall in a way that is different from Ultra-Orthodox tradition of the past few hundred years. To Full Post

Session VI – What do we mean by “Our Land”?


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In this session we are going to try to do the impossible: We are going to try to find some deep philosophical issues in the behavior of Bart Simpson. For this purpose you only need watch the first 10 minutes of the episode “Crepes of Wrath”. It is possible to buy this episode, or you can click on one of these free links:

Link one, and link two

barts room

There is a conflict – and there are casualties – because one member of the family has not tidied up after himself. Bart believes that he should be allowed to leave his belongings all over the house – not just all over his room – and that it should be his father’s responsibility to avoid stepping on them. Marge believes that Bart should tidy up his room – she seems to view the stuff in the hall as “overflow”. Homer just lies there.

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Session VII – The Hatikvah Vision – tensions and harmony


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As we come to the close of this series of study, it is time for us to bring this all together. 

The order of the sessions has not been random. We have, in fact, been exploring what we at Makom call the Hatikvah Vision. The Hatikvah Vision emerges from the penultimate line of Israel’s National Anthem: To be a Free People In Our Land. 

We suggest that the reason Israel is special to the Jewish People, is because it encapsulates four values in one place and time: 

To Be – Not fighting for survival, not justifying one’s existence, just being…
Free – Free from persecution, and free to take responsibility, to create, to grant or refuse freedom to others…
People – Connected to the people and the civilization and traditions of the Jewish world…
In Our Land – Physically in the general geographic area of the Biblical Land of Israel.

These values live together in Israel, sometimes in great tension with each other, sometimes in harmony…

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