Eretz Israel is our unforgettable historic homeland...The Jews who will it shall achieve their State...And whatever we attempt there for our own benefit will redound mightily and beneficially to the good of all mankind. (Theodor Herzl, DerJudenstaat, 1896)

We offer peace and amity to all the neighbouring states and their peoples, and invite them to cooperate with the independent Jewish nation for the common good of all. The State of Israel is ready to contribute its full share to the peaceful progress and development of the Middle East.
(From Proclamation of the State of Israel, 5 Iyar 5708; 14 May 1948)

With a liberal democratic political system operating under the rule of law, a flourishing market economy producing technological innovation to the benefit of the wider world, and a population as educated and cultured as anywhere in Europe or North America, Israel is a normal Western country with a right to be treated as such in the community of nations.... For the global jihad, Israel may be the first objective. But it will not be the last. (Friends of Israel Initiative)

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Just the Stuff to Give the Reform Troops: A Rabbi's Stirring Avowal of Israel and Zionism

At the outset, being a response to modernity and emancipation, the Reform wing of Judaism disavowed the age-long Jewish hope and expectation for restoration to Zion, and today sections of the Reform Movement - especially of the more radical Liberal Movement in Britain - have not been as ardent in support of Israel as we who are Israel's friends and admirers could wish.

Indeed, the Rabbi Emeritus of the Liberal Jewish Synagogue in London has often appeared to be on the side of Israel's mortal foes.  Too often, Liberal Jews in Britain seem to have reverted to the quaint if then understandable nineteenth-century mode of being "Englishmen [and women] of the Mosaic persuasion" - with all that implies for identification with the Jewish State.

How welcome and uplifting, then, are the following remarks by Rabbi Richard (Rick) Jacobs (pictured), incoming President of the Union for Reform Judaism in the United States, to the Religious Action Center’s Consultation on Conscience, delivered on 2 May.

Here's a very small and inadequate taste.  For the entire long and stirring address see:  A video of the speech is also available on that website.
'I fell in love with Israel. It was during my junior year of college, which I spent studying at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Ever since, working to strengthen Israel’s security and well being, well that’s been at the core of my public life.
What is the source of my passion for Israel? Yehuda Halevi best expressed my commitment when he wrote: “My heart is in the East.”
I love the extraordinary and complex mosaic that is contemporary Israel: the secular, the settlers, the peaceniks, the Orthodox, the Bedouins, the Reform, the new immigrants, the chalutzim, the Arab-Israelis, the left, the right and the center. They are all part of my Israel. I’m responsible for all of them.
Like all of you, I am proudly and strongly pro-Israel. While there are many legitimate ways to express pro-Israel commitments, I believe all must uphold Israel as a Jewish and democratic state. By “Jewish state” I mean a state with a stable Jewish majority, and by “democratic state” I mean a state that grants full political and civil rights to all who dwell permanently within its borders.
Now, being pro-Israel means always standing in solidarity with the State of Israel.To me, Jewish life cannot be imagined without Israel at its core. Occasional disagreements with Israeli policies are a necessary part of serious engagement with our Jewish state. But our love for Israel is not dependent on who is prime minister or on what issues are before the Knesset or the chief rabbinate....
Attempting to delegitimize Israel, on too many college campuses and throughout much of Europe, critics try to portray Israel as though it is some apartheid-like state. It is an absurd assertion. Anyone who knows what apartheid was, and who knows Israel today, is well aware of that....
Aleinu -”it is up to all of us” to foster a deep love for and engagement with Israel among Reform Jews of North America, young and old. We need Israel and Israel needs us....
Our hope is not lost -
The hope of two thousand years:
To be a free people in our land,
The land of Zion and Jerusalem.
Ken yehi ratzon'


  1. But the question still remains, what is he doing with JStreet if he loves Israel so much.

  2. A fair question ... I can only assume he will catch up with the true nature of J-Street, sooner or later...

  3. Over the past 24 months I have had many contacts with the local Reform Shul, and I have to say they are Zionist to the core every Man,Woman and child, no Neturei Karta here.

  4. Reform in Australia tends to be that way too, Steve, despite a few lingering yekke types...