From an a capella concert of traditional Moroccan love songs to a Iranian jazz fusion evening, cutting-edge Israeli musicians have brought to the Neve Schechter’s stage a renewed take on their heritage.
A very special Torah reading, four students who studied Torah cantillation via Skype with Cantor SaraLee Shrell Fox, a teacher at the Schechter Rabbinical Seminary, reached a new milestone and read Torah for the very first time.
In August 1949, Theodore Herzl’s remains were moved from Vienna to the newly established State of Israel. Professor Doron Bar, President of the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies, tells the story of how Jerusalem was given the honor of reinterring Herzl and how all of Israel paid tribute to the founder of Zionism by sending small bags of dirt from their communities around the country to be included in the grave. How else was Herzl honored?
As a modern-day researcher of Jewish thought, I especially love the personal descriptions that Jewish philosophers insert parenthetically into their Jewish philosophical text. These descriptions allow us to learn about central customs in Jewish community life, as well as the educational values and philosophical insights that were etched into the Jewish consciousness of the philosopher in question.
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.
What does a Zionist living in Israel learn from Zionists living in the Jewish Diaspora? Dr. Yossi Turner, associate professor of Jewish Thought and director of the Zionism working group at the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies, discusses what first led him to pursue the study of Zionism in Israel and in the Diaspora. Does the experience of being a Jewish majority versus being a Jewish minority impact Zionist ideals?
As a Jewish Zionist from the depth of his soul and an ordained rabbi, who is involved in all of the contemporary streams Judaism; as one who made Aliyah from the US 39 years ago; and as scholar who’s been researching and teaching the various facets of Jewish peoplehood and Jewish culture in Israel and the diaspora (past and present) for many years, I have a suggestion to make to Mr. Verdiger. I suggest that when speaking about the needs of Jewish existence, he show more humility, be more respectful of the truth and be wary of basing his world-view on stereotypes.
In my book Ideology and Landscape, which is about reinterring Zionist leaders in the homeland, I devoted a chapter to the reburial of Baron Edmond de Rothschild in Ramat Hanadiv. He and his wife Ada (Adelheid) were reinterred there in April 1954 in an imposing public ceremony. An Israeli battleship brought the coffins from Marseille to Haifa, and from there they were transported to the majestic burial estate south of the Carmel.
In one part of the military cemetery in Jerusalem stands a lone and unusual gravestone, marking the grave of David Raziel, Commander of Etzel (also known as the Irgun, a Zionistparamilitary organization that operated in Mandate Palestine between 1931 and 1948). Not many are aware that this is Raziel’s third resting spot, after he was first interred in a British military cemetery in Iraq and later moved to a Jewish cemetery in Cyprus.
On Chanukah in the year 1897, shortly after the First Zionist Congress was held, Theodore Herzl wrote an article called “The Menorah,” in which he compared himself to the shamash that lights and wakes Jews of all affiliations. Recent research on Herzl and his family points to the bond between Judaism and Zionism that was the cornerstone of his Zionist thought. Herzl was not raised as an Orthodox Jew nor did he become such, yet the shift in his attitude towards Jews of different stripes represented a move away from the assimilationist stance of his youth, when he was alienated from Judaism.