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Where Israeli and Diaspora Judaism Part Ways

In a comment to a previous post, my good friend Harry wrote,

I have been arguing the main points of both authors as you describe them. But I cannot read these articles because they are in Hebrew. Is there anyway for them to be translated- lets say to English?

The question of language aside, I want to claim that on an ideological level these two articles are largely irrelevant to Diaspora Jews who live in a Western democratic society and not in a ghetto.

Beyond the desire to stay abreast of what is happening in the cultural and religious scene in Israel, both Avi Picard and Yoav Sorek are describing trends and hopes for a sovereign Jewish society. Diaspora Judaism can be full of meaning and purpose, but it will always be a minority religious culture whose main avenues of expression will be within the frameworks of communal institutions, events, and the homes of its members.

There may be a seder in the White House, but that doesn’t make the possibility of a dynamic Jewish religious culture outside of the Jewish community’s four cubits any more possible.

4 Responses to “Where Israeli and Diaspora Judaism Part Ways”

  1. 1
    Zach:

    Excellent post and excellent point. I feel that this is also a central reason why Diaspora religious movements have had such a hard time in Israel. The most successful engagement of the majority of Israelis, who are secular/traditional/spiritually-searching, has been when it has come organically out of Israeli Jewish culture.

    I personally feel that the creation of an authentic Jewish culture within Israel is one of the most exciting aspects of a Jewish state. One hopes that when Diaspora Jewry is exposed to it, they can be inspired by it as well. It can be something as simple as the Modern Orthodox community of the USA watching Serugim. They might not get every nuance, but they can be inspired to see how tv can be a legitimate form of Jewish religious cultural expression.

  2. 2
    Menachem Mendel:

    Zach,

    I agree with you about Diaspora religious movements in Israel. To a large extent, they just don’t get it. I like to say that non-Orthodox Judaism is alive and well in Israel, even flourishing, it just has very little to do with either the Israeli Reform or Conservative movements.

  3. 3
    S.:

    Monopolies always have a downside, so I’m not going to jump on the “only in Israel” bandwagon just yet.

  4. 4
    Zach:

    I am not Diaspora bashing. I am a shul rabbi who lives in the USA and will probably not be moving to Israel any time soon. Nor am I trying to rehash old debates about zionism. I am just someone who has a deep appreciation of Israeli culture and the Jewish creativity it represents.

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