Posts Tagged ‘Jewish-people’

Philanthropist Edgar M. Bronfman, in the final part of a five-part series of articles on Huffington Post, talks about the need to rethink and update the relationship between Israel and the world’s Jews, and quotes Hartman Institute Founding President David Hartman on the subject:

As my dear friend, the philosopher David Hartman once said to me, “Israel is a return to the particular, but not a ghetto…. It’s not meant to be insulated from the world. It lives in discussion with the world.” Yes, Israel has very real problems being accepted in its immediate neighborhood and by some in the international arena. And yes, these problems on the whole are not of its own making. But Israel should always be engaged in this wider “discussion with the world,” and turn away from the “ghetto” mentality.”

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Donniel Hartman’s commentary on the “Rotem Conversion Bill” controversy, “Relationship of Israel and World Jewry Depends on Meaning, Not Claims of Necessity,” is receiving widespread attention in Israel and North America, including citations and reprints by The New York Times, Forward, and Ynet, among others:

Israel Puts Off Crisis Over Conversion Law (The New York Times, 23/07/2010)

Donniel was quoted in an article by The New York Times Jerusalem Bureau Chief Ethan Bronner on the subject:

“There is increasing discomfort among American Jews with Israel,” commented Rabbi Donniel Hartman, president of Jerusalem’s Shalom Hartman Institute, which is devoted to exploring Jewish issues. “This issue is a place where they can express the displeasure that they might not be willing to state on the flotilla and other political matters.”

For that reason, some here, even among those sympathetic to the Reform and Conservative movements, like Rabbi Hartman, feel that the American reaction to the Rotem bill was overly aggressive.

“They overstated this one,” he said.

Jewish Legitimacy (Forward, 21/07/2010)

In an editorial taking a contrarian view of the conversion bill uproar, the Forward excerpted Donniel’s most recent commentary: “Rabbi Donniel Hartman of the Shalom Hartman Institute, one of the saner voices during this emotional dispute, put it best: ‘It requires a commitment to Israel not as it is, but as it ought to be, and a willingness to invest in creating such an Israel.’ And, he wrote recently, ‘it requires a deep caring.’”

The Forward then went on to say: “To care deeply doesn’t obligate us to swear blind loyalty and suppress disagreement. But it doesn’t allow us to turn our backs, either. With all the worried talk about the demise of “liberal Zionism,” here is a chance for Jews in Israel and the Diaspora to resurrect its future.”

The Forward’s editorial was also reprinted on the influential blog, EJewishPhilanthropy.com

United or divided? (Jerusalem Post, 24/07/10)

The Jerusalem Post reprinted the original commentary by Donniel Hartman, which ran first on the Institute’s website.

A version in Hebrew was published on Ynet, the leading news website in Israel, on 25/07/2010. Click here for the Hebrew version.

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The question of how to sustain and maintain Jewish identity in a democratic State of Israel will be the subject of a daylong conference at the Knesset, May 27, 2010, expected to draw more than 400 participants and leading rabbis from all streams of religious thought in Israel.

The conference was set up by Kadima Party leader Tzipi Livni, who told the Jerusalem Post:

The attention of the leaders and the public naturally is devoted first and foremost to security and diplomatic issues, but the challenges related to the character of internal Israeli society are no less important. We must work on developing the Zionist vision of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.

Success dealing with the challenges of civil and social issues will make the state better able to deal with its challenges on diplomatic and security issues.

Hartman Institute participants include Ron Margolin, Ariel Picard, Gili Zivan, and Shraga Bar-on are scheduled to be the chairs of four sessions, at which lecturers will talk on various aspects of the subject. Margolin helped organize the panels. Hartman Institute’s Micah Goodman is among the participants.

“This is an attempt to have a serious conversation in the Knesset and discuss issues of Jewish identity and democracy in a rational manner,” said Ariel Picard.

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A controversial new book, The Invention of the Jewish People, by Tel Aviv University historian Shlomo Sand, is now in English, after kicking up a dust storm of controversy in its original Hebrew incarnation. This is a summary of the book’s thesis, as explained in a recent review on Tablet, an online Jewish cultural magazine:

Sand… argues that the Jews were not in fact exiled from Israel, and that the bulk of modern Jewry does not descend from the ancient Israelites Rather, he claims, they are the children of converts—North African Berbers and Turkic Khazars—and have no ancestral ties to the land of Israel. Zionism is not a return home, Sand writes, it is the tragic theft of another people’s land. As such, Israel is not the political rebirth of the Jewish nation—it’s a complete fabrication.

The first issue of Shalom Hartman Institute’s Havruta magazine touched on many aspects of the matter of Jewish peoplehood – from a different perspective that accepts and aims at strengthening the concept of Jewish peoplehood. Read the articles here.

Shalom Hartman Institute’s coverage of Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israeli Independence Day, also addresses these issues from a perspective that embraces Jewish peoplehood.

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Two articles from the third issue of Havruta, “The Spiritual Quest,” are now available online:

Beyond Maimonides: The search for God in postmodern America, by Alfredo Borodowski

A song for many voices: The soul of secular Israel, by Rani Jaeger

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Israel – parts of it at least – promotes itself as the most tolerant country in the Middle East. Gays and lesbians have a freedom to live openly unheard of in the Arab world. Transsexual singer Dana International is a popular entertainer and TV personality. Yet… Yet… Late Saturday an unidentified shooter opened fire in a Tel Aviv club that provides a haven for gay teens and youth. Two are dead. Another 10 are wounded, some critically.

Mainstream and ultra-Orthodox politicians have risen to condemn the shooting. The Mayor of Tel Aviv pledged his city will remain friendly to and supportive of gays. Yet…there is often open talk in this country about how homosexuality is the root of many problems – even earthquakes!

Shalom Hartman Institute has made a point of being an open, pluralistic center that is a place where gay and Orthodox rabbis study together. Rabbi Dr. Donniel Hartman has several times on our website condemned the hateful speech of anti-gay political and religious leaders.

Read his recent posts:

This summer in Jerusalem – heat and holiness
The ultra-Orthodox, gays and the future of Jerusalem
and one from last year: When an earthquake is not just an earthquake

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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.)

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