The Summer 2011 issue of Havruta: A Journal of Jewish Conversation, to be published online and in print, will be dedicated to the Shalom Hartman Institute Engaging Israel project. The goal of this exciting new initiative is to respond to growing feelings of disenchantment with and disinterest in Israel among an increasing number of Jews worldwide, by creating a new narrative regarding the significance of Israel for Jewish life. This narrative will serve as a foundation for a new covenant between Israel and world Jewry, which will elevate the existing discourse from one based on crisis to one rooted in Jewish values and ideas. Featuring six in-depth articles and eight shorter reflections on the theme, this issue serves as a vehicle for expressing this new narrative and promoting the ensuing dialogue.
The six articles were produced by members of Jerusalem-based Engaging Israel team, following a year of intensive study and thought. Rabbi Dr. Donniel Hartman speaks of the need to go beyond the age-old crisis narrative based on exile and redemption and create a more nuanced paradigm. Dr. Tal Becker encourages the juxtaposition of the aspirations of Zionism with the realities of Middle East politics within the realm of Jewish ethical ideals. Yossi Klein Halevi examines what Israel and the Diaspora owe each other, while Rabbi Dr. Rachel Sabath Beit-Halachmi looks at the struggles of liberal Jews with the Zionist project. Professor Gil Troy writes of a Zionist vision that balances dreams and reality, and Noam Zion examines the role of criticism for the loyal Jewish citizen.
The Symposium section of the magazine features MK Tzipi Livni, Chairman of the Jewish Agency Natan Sharansky, Rabbi Professor David Hartman, members of the North American Engaging Israel team, and Lord Stanley Kalms, who challenged SHI’s leaders by asking the provocative questions that led to the launch of the Engaging Israel project.
This issue’s “Afikoman,” the Havruta section that applies historical texts to contemporary issues, is a meditation on Israel-Diaspora relations centered on Chaim Nachman Bialik’s visit to America in 1926, two years after his aliyah from Odessa. “The reactions and shifts in opinion of the greatest modern Hebrew poet based on his six-month stay shed intriguing light on the Israel-North America relationship today,” says Havruta editor Stuart Schoffman.