Rethinking Jewish Faith: The Child of a Survivor Responds

By Steven L. Jacobs | Go to book overview

7
Israel and Zionism in the Post-Shoah World

Among the post- World War II and post-Auschwitz responses of the Jewish people to the Shoah has been the intense energy expended upon the reestablished State of Israel as well as the devout Zionist commitments of Jews throughout the world toward ensuring its survival. And, although the lobbying efforts of the early post-1948 Zionists asserted that the only valid Jewish life worth living is that which is lived in Israel, the overwhelming majority of Jews continue to not only live outside the State of Israel, but never have nor ever will visit the Land of Israel. Along with this reality, it must be noted that, in the forty-six years of her existence, more Israelis have undergone yeridah (emigration from Israel) than American Jews have made aliyah (immigration to Israel). My concerns in this chapter, however, are neither the political nor historical dimensions of contemporary Israel, but rather its theological ones.

After the Shoah, it seems to me, there are four interwoven religio-theological issues, each of which impinges upon the other and each of which has more or less been "ignored" by the various religious communities of Jews. 1 They are (1) a religious response to the whole question of yetidah versus aliyah; (2) the question of the power of the Jewish State and its Jewish inhabitants versus those who are not Jews and who do not wish to live under the Israeli flag or be ruled by its governmental apparatus; (3) the role, place, function of a religious philosophy of Zionism, that is, whether Israel is a central or peripheral focus of religious Judaism; and by extension, (4) whether Judaism itself after the Shoah can or must affirm a nationalistic component or is, now, in truth, transnational by definition. Each of these issues and concerns is theologically, religiously, and emotionally complex and fraught with danger and unconifortability.

Given the affirmation of chofshi, freedom, for all Jews, both inside and outside Israel, to live the kinds of Jewish lives they posi-

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