Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic Monthly interviewed Michael Oren, a New York state native who is now Israel’s ambassador to the United States in Aspen, CO, recently. In the interview (click here to see the entire interview on video; click here to read the Israel-Diaspora relations segment edited down for you), Oren discusses the need Israelis have for American Jews and vice versa:
Israel needs the political and economic support of American Jewry, and American Jewry increasingly needs the spiritual infusion of the Jewish state.… In recent years, we have found that a 10-day visit to the state of Israel by American Jewish youth does more for Jewish identity than seven years in Hebrew school. In fact, seven years in Hebrew school, as one poll shows, does some damage to Jewish identity.
Oren also cleverly dissects the “problem” of American Jewry for Herzl and the early Zionists: America wasn’t supposed to happen for the Jews. Nowhere was supposed to be safe for them! Oy. What a problem!
This issue comes up over and over again. North American rabbis here at Hartman Institute in recent weeks heard lectures on the subject and worried over it time and again. Here’s a link to a downloadable PDF document featuring Donniel Hartman’s in-depth take on the matter: “Rethinking the Partnership Between Israel and World Jewry.”
(Hat tip to Hadassah Levy for bringing it to my attention.)