web analytics
April 24, 2014 / 24 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘A.B. Yehoshua’

Author A.B. Yehoshua: American Jews are ‘Partial Jews’

Sunday, March 18th, 2012

Noted Israeli author and Israel Prize Laureate, A.B. Yehoshua, delivered a lecture on Friday in which he stated that American Jews “are partial Jews while I am a complete Jew.”

“In no siddur is there a mention of the word ‘Jew’ but only ‘Israeli’,” Yehoshua asserted. “In no way are we the same thing – we are total and they are partial; we are Israeli and also Jewish.”

Speaking at the HaKatedra Strategic Friday lecture series, under the auspices of the Land of Israel Museum, Yehoshua said that living outside Israel “is a very deep failure of the Jewish people,” and lamented that immigration numbers from the United States are “minimal” and “embarrassing.”

He challenged American Jews to assume a ‘complete’ Jewish identity: “If Judaism is important to you, then come here, receive it in full and be part of it. But it is important that you understand: ‘they’ and ‘us’ are not the same thing. Do not make do with texts.”

He also accused American Jews of being generous with pronunciations of support but infrequent travelers to Israel: “They should come here more often. All the love they have for Israel, but they were here for barely a five-day visit…barely 20 percent of them [American Jews] have ever been in Israel.”

Yehoshua did not restrict his criticism of diaspora Jewry to Americans, and also took aim at the large Israeli ex-patriot communities living abroad: “There are about 500,000 Israelis abroad who can easily glide into their Israeliness, which they consider only citizenship and not identity … there is nearly no home without a convertible outside. I know these homes, who are well off. Why? Because they cannot find jobs here? The Swedes, too, don’t have work in high technology like they would want, but you will not see so many Swedes in the United States.”

Known more for his outspokenly dovish stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Yehoshua is no stranger to controversy when it comes to Shlilat HaGolah (Negation of the Diaspora). In a 2006 speech in the US at the centennial symposium of the American Jewish Committee, he said “Judaism outside Israel has no future. If you do not live in Israel…your Jewish identity has no meaning at all.” Suffice it to say, his hosts were less than impressed with his choice of words and the forum in which he chose to express them. In 2003, he was quoted by the Jerusalem Post as saying that “diaspora Judaism is masturbation. Here [Israel], it is the real thing.”

Tiny Steps Towards a Big Goal

Sunday, March 18th, 2012

Often, when I return home to Israel after a speaking tour in North America, I am asked by my Israeli friends: “Nu, did you get people to make Aliyah?”

I explain that I prefer not to talk much about Aliyah while I am abroad. I try to get Jews to reawaken their love for the homeland, connect with the life in Israel and I find that the issue of Aliyah often distances my audience. Though I am a firm believer in the in-gathering of the exiles, when I speak to Jews around the world, I am trying to bridge worlds, not drive them apart.

Indeed, the biggest schism  in the Jewish world today is the great Atlantic Divide. Six million Jews live in North America, and six million live across the ocean in Israel. The Jewish nation exists in worlds apart: One attends Liberal Arts colleges, the other fights in the army; one speaks English, the other Hebrew; they read different books and watch different TV shows. The Jewish people’s geographic and cultural divide can easily become an unbridgeable gap.

North American Jews are concerned and have taken real steps to bridge the Atlantic Divide through one-year Yeshiva programs in Israel, gap year studies in Israeli universties, internship programs, and, of course, Birthright-Israel, the amazing project that has changed the lives of tens of thousands young Jews.

But still, it’s not enough. 80% of North American Jews have never been to Israel, and most Israelis have no connection to American Jewish life. That is why Israelis, people like outspoken author A.B. Yehoshua, are worried about their North American Jewish brothers and sisters. Israelis are afraid to lose their American family to assimilation, and they are afraid of growing apart.

While A.B. Yehoshua may be right about the problem, his recent harsh words (in which he calls American Jews “partial Jews” for not living in Israel) do not help much. There are no partial Jews, we are a family, a tribe, a nation, and we simply cannot allow our people to become disconnected. We should never talk down to Jews, we should talk up, inspire, and heal. To bring the family together, you need to talk in the language of love.

And you also need vision. Our people need a star to guide us toward one goal that will eventually bring us back together.

What is this vision?

The vision of a rebuilt Jerusalem is one which our people have shared ever since we were dispossessed of our land 2,000 years ago. From Addis Ababa to LA, from Kabul to Vienna, our people have always proclaimed “Next Year in a Rebuilt Jerusalem!” No matter where we are on the globe, no matter our persecution or comfort, we have had only one homeland and one capital to which our heart has belonged.

To foster that vision, and to make it applicable in our lives, we need to get behind the idea of mass Aliyah.

“But wait?? Didn’t you just tell us not to  preach Aliyah because it’s divisive?”

Let me explain: There is the grand ideal of making Aliyah, that is, moving to Israel, and that issue may be divisive. But the word “Aliyah” in Hebrew also refers to the process of going up and there are many steps in the staircase before you get to the landing. And that is exactly what we have to do – take steps towards our united goal with each step being a mini-Aliyah. Those steps can be big or small, but they are steps nonetheless. Deciding to drink only Israeli wine on Shabbat is a type of Aliyah. Putting up a poster of Jerusalem in your house, or a flag, is a type of Aliyah. Sending your kids on Birthright, or to studies in Israel is an Aliyah. Buying real-estate in Israel is definitely an Aliyah.

Aliyah means that we, as a nation, take whatever steps we can towards Jewish unity by recognizing the centrality of Israel in our national life.

And here is another example of mini-Aliyah which is very pertinent in this season:

If you have the budget to vacation this Passover, you certainly have many wonderful alternatives to choose from around the world -

“Celebrate Passover at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort, Naples. Rich in tradition and excellence.”

“The Best Passover Vacations Under the Sun are in Mexico, Arizona and Florida. Glatt Kosher.”

“5 Deluxe Passover Resorts – in Florida, New York, Arizona & Italy with Leisure Time Tours.”

“Magical Passover 2012 Vacation in Orlando, Florida at the Luxurious Doubletree by Hilton Orlando at SeaWorld.”

These are great places, no doubt, and I totally understand the need to take one’s few precious vacation days and get away from the stress. However, your Passover vacation is also an opportunity to make a mini-Aliyah with your family and to arrive at the international Passover hub – Jerusalem. The term Aliyah actually comes from the concept of going up to Jerusalem three times a year during the Festivals, so coming to Israel on Passover is definitely an Aliyah!

Nothing shows our values as a nation more then the way we celebrate the Holiday of Freedom. When we choose Jerusalem over Orlando we strengthen the bond of brotherhood within the Jewish Nation, our core values shine through, and our children imbibe it. The world, too, notices when we put Jerusalem ahead of other destinations and it strengthens our nation’s claim to the land.

So this year, let us start making Aliyah as a nation, lets bridge the great Atlantic Divide, and let us make good on what we said at last year’s Seder: “Next year in Jerusalem”.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/tiny-steps-towards-a-big-goal/2012/03/18/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: