Thanks for the wisdom and framing of difficult matters in a way that makes sense. Please remember that while the divide between America and Israel may (sadly) be widening there is still a large majority of Jews throughout the world whose love and support is unwavering. Thanks for helping us keep that bridge - intellectually, emotionally and culturally.

Expand full comment

Thanks for a different perspective on this issue. A good reminder for us safe (?) in America on why Israel’s existence is critical to us.

Expand full comment

Wow. Daniel Gordis can write. He gives me a bit of insight into myself.

I'm an agnostic. I had no Jewish education whatsoever. No Bar Mitzvah.

And I'm an American. That means that universalism is a definite and strong part of me.

Although I know it referred originally to the different states, not to different ethnic groups, nationalities and places of origin, I thrill to our national motto: E Pluribus Unum. Out of Many, One. A powerful idea that moves me greatly.

But I am also a particularist, obsessed with Israel, reading many books about it and following it closely in the news. And to me the non-universalist idea of a Jewish State is also very, very powerful.

If these feelings seem somewhat contradictory, Daniel Gordis resolves them in explaining Israel's PURPOSE. Which is to ensure that the defining experience of my parents' lives will not be that of anybody else.

My parents were refugees from Nazi-controlled Vienna. And their parents, who could not escape, were all murdered by the Nazis, as were all of my father's large family in Poland, with whom he spent his summers. Though my parents had very meaningful lives of service as physicians in the United States, they were always shadowed by the Nazi period.

How could they not be? Despite the reality of anti-Semitism, they had good and rich lives in Vienna. Then, overnight, they were despised and persecuted, victims to whom anything could happen at any time, with no hope of protection from the police. They made it out, but despite prodigious efforts, their parents did not, their lives being taken in circumstances of unimaginable horror.

I grew up with no other family in America. My wonderful family is in Israel, to which my mother's brothers escaped, illegally of course. Had things played out a bit differently, I very easily could have been Israeli.

I do not look on Israel as a potential place of refuge. My life experience has taught me -- and what else does one have to go on -- that Jews are permanently safe in America.

But I would be a fool with something missing in me if I didn't feel very strongly about Israel and care deeply about that miraculous country..

Expand full comment

"For the first time in thousands of years, there’s no Jew on the planet who does not have a place to go. That is Israel’s purpose." Gorgeous piece, thank you for this.

Expand full comment

In the summer of 2006, I was staying at kibbutz Ginosar, with a group of American college students (who were digging at Beit Saida and learning Hebrew). During the evening, we could see the traces from the rockets flying over head toward Tiberias. There was no Iron Dome (obviously) and it was a pretty frightening experience.

Expand full comment

Thanks for these blog articles. They bring us American jews a little closer inside of Israel. Question: Where is the photo at the top of this article from? I'm curious who would have been present to take this picture.

Expand full comment