Yom Ha’atzmaut 5784 – Zionism is being used as an insult
May 14, 2024 — By Rabbi David Hoffman, PhD

For too many Americans – even some American Jews – the words “Zionism” and “Zionist” are being tossed around as indictments.

These words have become repositories for every bad idea on campuses.

Many of us in the Jewish world continue to find inspiration in Zionism – an idea which aspires for the renewal of Judaism and the Jewish people in our Land.

What it means to be a Zionist after the creation of the State is dynamic.  Like Judaism itself.

Today, Israeli rabbis are creating new, relevant meanings to an idea that has been around for over one-hundred years.

In Tel Aviv, Rabbi Channanel Rosen is challenging his community this year: “Even in Israel we are in danger of hollowing out meaning to the Zionist project.”

Rabbi Rosen leads a vibrant and welcoming Orthodox community in the heart of Tel Aviv.

Yakar Tel Aviv is both a religious community and an engaging cultural center only steps from some of Tel Aviv’s swankiest cafes.  On a regular night at Yakar,  you can find Jews from diverse backgrounds, ages and political orientations who connect over in-depth study, social involvement and a desire to bring more Jewish spirituality into their lives.

This year, especially this year – to remind us all of what Israelis are fighting for – Rabbi Rosen is asking his community to intentionally consider these new “Four Questions” with their families on this Israeli Independence Day:


1. What are the core values and ideals that must stand at the center of a Zionist society?


2. How do we Israelis incorporate the socialist origins and concerns for communal welfare in the formative DNA of Zionism with the capitalistic, individualistic ethos of Startup Nation?


3. As we create a meaningful Zionist civic identity, how do we find ways to celebrate and encourage diversity while minimizing discord?


4. What are the parts of Judaism should we transpose onto a civic, national culture?  Which parts should stay part of the private religious experience?

Growth requires great leadership. It requires asking big questions.

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