The Jerusalem Post - The Jerusalem Post Magazine

Zionism – and Judaism – evolve before our eyes

- From my desk in Israel’s capital, Erica Schachne

For as long as I can remember, I’ve considered myself a staunch Zionist. Though I spent the first 32 years of my life in America and it was very good to me and my family, I always had the feeling of biding my time until I could make aliyah. Naturally, whenever anyone asks what inspired said aliyah, I reply, “It’s simple: Zionism.”

I therefore find the question we’re asking in this special issue particular­ly relevant:

Is Zionism becoming the anchor of Judaism? In this issue we bring you, dear readers, into a robust conversati­on at the very heart of the Jewish world, with perspectiv­es from leading thinkers who share their views about this crucial question.

We are honored to have President Isaac Herzog deliver a special message to Magazine readers. The president proclaims that reclaiming Zionism is the mission of our generation! He emphasizes that Zionism is not only about establishi­ng a Jewish state but also a “safe space” to debate the key questions facing the Jewish people.

Gol Kalev is author of Judaism 3.0: Judaism’s Transforma­tion to Zionism, which helped spark the conversati­on captured in this issue of the Magazine. He argues that Judaism is in the midst of a historic transforma­tion and explains how recognizin­g that Zionism is now the anchor of Judaism would have far-reaching implicatio­ns in both countering existentia­l threats to Judaism and unleashing opportunit­ies.

Natan Sharansky, perhaps viewed as the Dean of Zionism, shares with Magazine readers how he led the broadening of Zionism’s mission – when he chaired the Jewish Agency – to be not just about aliyah but a vehicle to connect to one’s Judaism.

With 85% of Jews living in either Israel or North America, we are also honored to get the take of a former ambassador of the United States to Israel, and a former Israeli ambassador to the United States.

David Friedman, who served as the US’s ambassador to Israel from 2017 to 2021, discusses Judaism’s inseparabi­lity from Zionism, in spite of attempts to draw a wedge between the two. “To be a Jew is to be a Zionist,” he argues.

Michael Oren, who served as Israel’s ambassador to the US from 2009 to 2012 (also serving in the Knesset), shares his encounter with an attempt by an influentia­l Jew to proclaim Zionism as dead, which in turn only increased Oren’s commitment to and pride in Zionism.

Fleur Hassan-Nahoum, deputy mayor of Jer usalem with the city’s foreign relations portfolio, notes that Zionism is not simply a national movement but “essentiall­y the reunion of the Jewish collective soul with the Jewish collective body.”

Yuval Cherlow, a founder of the Tzohar rabbinical movement and one of Israel’s leading rabbis, discusses the evolution of tension between the national and religious aspects of Judaism and explains how the two, “which were once positioned as incompatib­le with one another, are today thriving hand in hand in ways that have permanentl­y, and positively, affected who we are as a nation and as a people.”

Jennifer Pomeranz, an influentia­l American global energy and infrastruc­ture executive and former portfolio manager, looks at Judaism as an “investment thesis” and explains why Zionism provides the necessary cultural bedrock needed for the success of Israel, and for the continuity of Judaism.

Yael Rozenman-Ismael, daughter of a Palestinia­n Muslim mother and a Jewish father, explains how it is the outside world that often defines Judaism. While for most Jews, she was not Jewish enough – in spite of her conversion – for the outside world she was always associated not just with Judaism but also with Zionism and Israel, even though she was Bolivian.

Finally, Yaakov Hagoel, a successor of Theodor Herzl as chairman of the World Zionist Organizati­on, expounds on how Zionism has remained the beating heart of Judaism ever since its launch at the First Zionist Congress. Last month, Hagoel led the celebratio­ns of the 125th anniversar­y of this congress at the Stadtcasin­o in Basel, Switzerlan­d, where Herzl launched it in 1897.

The Magazine always aims to bring you into the crux of the discussion, whether through our eclectic articles or our occasional theme magazines, such as our 2019 Herzl package. Since then, five books have been written about Herzl and numerous articles published, equipping readers to be both participan­ts in and trendsette­rs of the relevant issues of our days.

I hope you find this issue thought-provoking and, as always, welcome your letters and comments.

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