Furthermore, Reform youth can buy into Israel because Zionism is a short leap away from the Reform conception of Tikkun Olam – what is more Tikkun Olam then building a model country in the Middle East? Reform youth can be galvanized to take part in building a Jewish country, especially if we show them that their input and fresh ideas are needed and respected. Israel has all they are looking for: from Yad VaShem to lively beaches, from great hospitals to great theater, from a great history to a great future. Send them over here and let them fall in love with the land, with the language, with the culture, and with each other.
Finally, this direction is not new or alien to the Reform movement – in the 40’s Rabbi Abba Hillel Silver was one of the most important American Jewish leaders and his work assured the support of the American Jewish community, and President Truman’s, for the establishment of the Jewish state. There are many streets in Israel named after him. Today, Rabbi Richard Jacobs, the newly elected President of the Union of the Reform Judaism of the United States, with his fluent Hebrew, strong ties, and vocal support for Israel, appears to be a leader capable of implementing this directional change. With Reform rabbis making inroads in Israel, and successful Reform Kibbutzim settling the land, the path is opening up for Reform youth to buy into Israel on a larger scale.
Had Mark Zuckerberg been told that the Jewish people have a mission to rebuild a Jewish state, and that his creative talents are needed, he may have harnessed his mind in that direction. He could have been a cyber-warrior in the IDF, or may have started a start-up in the start-up nation. Had he been offered an opportunity to take part in the most exciting project of the Jewish people in two-thousand years, he probably would have taken it. (Notice, by the way, how involved Mark was in the launching of President Shimon Peres’ Facebook page. It seemed to me that he was proud to be helping Israel and thereby expressed his pride in being Jewish.)
Rabbi Dana, with great respect to your admirable mission of bringing in more concrete Judaism back to the Reform, I think that Israel holds a lot more Jewish sex-appeal for the average teenager and college student, and it is an easier fit with their current non-observant mindset. If we care about keeping the next Zuckerberg in the fold, we must help the next generation choose life by plugging them into the exciting story of the Jewish State.
Looking forward to your response,