“In essence, American Jews today appear to be much more closely connected to the Israel of myth than the Israel of reality. Indeed, Israel’s reality has increasingly tended to alienate American Jews: the Israeli political system doesn’t work like the U.S. system does, and Americans often neither understand it, nor feel comfortable with it…. Israelis are often regarded as rude, rough, not heimish, and even embarrassing. Religiously, the progressive elements of American Judaism don’t appear to count for much in Israel, which creates a sense among some American Jews that they don’t count in Israel either. ..And finally, there are vast cultural differences – the army is certainly a core formative experience for Israelis which Americans are largely unable to share…”
(NACIE’s Philosopher’s retreat, New-York, September 2003)
This unit, Israel: Myth and Reality, focuses on the essential nature of our perception of Israel. From the earliest stages of our Jewish education, we are exposed to multiple sources of information, each painting its own portrait of Israel. Some portraits reflect a mythic image of Israel, while others create a detailed and realistic image of the Israelis’ everyday life. These images mediate our emotional and psychological engagements with Israel. Through this unit, we will discuss and reflect on these perceptions, and try to better understand how our mental portraits of Israel are influenced by the concepts of Myth and Reality.
This unit has already been piloted in the Jewish community of San Francisco, and has subsequently been refined to reflect the comments and insights of those who participated. We hope that your feedback will be used to improve the unit for future users.