Our relationship to Israel is precious and unique. We do not view Israel as simply one more country in the world with whom we have a political relationship as American citizens. To understand our relationship with Israel, we have to understand that our history is wrapped up with Israel’s history, our future is wrapped up with Israel’s future, and our spirits are wrapped up with Israel’s destiny.
We are Zionists. That is to say, we are committed to Israel’s existence as a Jewish state and to Israel’s peace and security. We seek a world in which Israel can live in harmony with non-Jewish neighbors and in harmony with Jewish values.
Israel was created to be a safe haven for Jews, a place where Jews could live according to Jewish ways and Jewish values, free from the persecution that had been such a significant part of Jewish history. Even before Israel’s creation as a state in 1948, the growing Jewish community there was a safe-haven for Jews fleeing persecution throughout the world.
Zionism, the movement to create an independent Jewish state,emerged in Europe in the 19thcentury as Jews faced the terrible realization that even in the modern world, the hatreds and brutality of anti-Semitism would not go away. The increasingly dangerous atmosphere forJews in the 1930s and then the horrors of the Holocaust gave new urgency to the fight for a Jewish State.
Yet the longing to create a Jewish state came from much more than the desire to escape persecution. At its core, Zionism represents a desire to pursue Jewish self-determination, to create a society governed by Jewish values, informed by Jewish history, inspired by Jewish ideas and that would give expression to the ongoing development of Jewish culture in all its forms. In order to do honor to our spiritual connection to the Jewish people, it is our obligation to remain informed about Israel, to give material support to Israel’s institutions and citizens and to articulate our love for Israel – even when that love takes the form of questions and criticism.
An Ongoing Dialogue
There is perhaps greater diversity and greater divisions in Jewish thinking about Israel than at any other time since the earliest Zionist Congress meetings in Europe in the 19thcentury. Within the Har HaShem community, there are voices on the political right and voices on the political left. There are those who are supportive of the Israeli government’s policies in relation to the Palestinian people and those who are critical. We are united in our fervent desire for peace and for the flourishing and development of Israel as a Jewish state.
Har HaShem and Israel
-We have regular classes on Israel.
-We have periodic dialogues and discussions about the relationship between Israel and the Palestinian people.
-In 2011, prominent journalist Jeffrey Goldberg visited Har HaShem as Scholar-in-Residence to explore current policies surrounding Israel.
-Rabbi Rose led a Congregational trip to Israel in the summer of 2009.
-Read Rabbi Rose’s sermon on Israel from High Holy Days, 5770/2009.
Resources for More Information
Paul Johnson, A History of the Jews.
Raul Hilberg, The Destruction of the European Jews.
Shlomo Avineri, Israel and the Palestinians.
Howard Sachar, A History of Israel.
Michael Oren, Six Days of War.
Tom Segev, 1967: Israel, the War and the Year That Transformed the Middle East.