Sunday, the 28th of Iyyar, marks the 51st anniversary of Jerusalem’s unification. Professor Doron Bar, President of the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies, and a 7th generation Jerusalemite, tells the story of Jerusalem’s changing population through the lens of his family history. How has Israel’s largest city evolved from a a small group living within the Old City walls to an expansive metropolis?
The two great proponents of political Zionism – Herzl and Jabotinsky, were both classical liberals, who championed free markets and private property as critical to economic development of the future Jewish State, while underscoring the critical importance of social solidarity. Neither was religious, yet both of them in their Zionist visions called for the implementation of the Biblical Jubilee year as ethical and moral bulwarks in a Jewish State.
Neve Schechter’s Gallery in Tel Aviv is currently exhibiting “Sphere”. Several beautiful spherical paintings around the theme of the Omer Season (Leviticus Ch. 23) by two talented Israeli artists are on display, but what evokes a powerful response are four large screens on which women count to 49 in eerily male voices, each time turning around. Secular Israeli women, grappling with the tradition of counting the Omer, are providing a poignant commentary on the exclusion of women’s voices in Jewish tradition. What does this commentary reflect? Zionism was a revolutionary response to the crisis of Jewish identity in 19th century Europe. The framework of Jewish life that had assured survival for 1,800 years; a semi-autonomous faith community, regulated by Jewish Law and strong familial connections, could no longer swim against the powerful currents of liberal enlightenment, secular nationalism and socialism.
Are we aware of the miracles surrounding us? Rabbi Professor David Golinkin, President of The Schechter Institutes, shares excerpts of a letter written 70 years ago by the late Binyamin Brenzel. It describes the excitement in Israel following the UN partition vote. Brenzel, who later worked at Schechter until age 100, gives a window into the miraculous nature of the creation of the State of Israel.
We once again witnessed the ridiculousness of the separation between men and women at the Western Wall when female journalists were forced to stand on chairs to see US Vice-President Michael Pence pray at the Western Wall during his recent visit. No one, not even the rabbi of the Western Wall, can explain the benefit or importance of this separation of the sexes.
Dr. Bat-Sheva Margalit Stern, associate professor of history at the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies, contrasts the leadership of Meir, who disavowed feminism, with the leadership of Ada Fishman Maimon, an advocate of feminism, one of the founders of Women Workers Movement and a member of Knesset. Watch the video to learn more about Meir and Maimon’s differing leadership styles.
Israel’s holy sites have been a destination for pilgrims of many faiths. This week, when we read Parshat Vayishlach, Professor Doron Bar, President of the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies, shares the stories of two pilgrims to Rachel’s Tomb.
I was born two years prior to the Six-Day War when Jerusalem was still a divided city, with barbed wire and concrete walls separating the two sections. Jerusalem totally changed by the time I grew up. It became a city without borders, an exciting and fascinating place, whose spaces were accessible to everyone. One could experience the city on a personal, one to one basis. My urban encounter spanned the entire city…
With our return to sovereignty our eyes look towards the legislating body, the Knesset. We demand to find a legal way to end the injustice suffered by the Hebrew woman for generations […] and to allow neither legal nor civil discrimination (Ada Maimon). Ada Maimon, 50 Years of Women’s Workers Movement 1904-1954, Tel Aviv 1956, pp. 218-219. Ada Fishman and her brother, Rabbi Yehuda Leib Fishman, changed their surname in 1949 to Maimon, used henceforth in this article.
The coupling of the words Zion and Zionism reflects the aspiration to connect the bond between the Jewish People, past and present, and the Land of Israel (poetically referred to as ‘Zion’) to its modern national future as promised by the Zionist idea. This connection was already fixed during the development of nationalist thought in the days of Hibat Zion (‘Love of Zion’), in literary and publicist writings, but gained strength with the rise of the Zionist idea, which transformed the yearning to grace the earth of the Holy Land (Zion) into the establishment of a modern, sovereign national state (Zionism).