I am not normally supportive of new Jewish/Israeli based organizations – we seem to have more than our share. But the time has come for a new effort that will restore the greatness and vitality of the Zionist movement.
Israel and the Jewish people are under attack from the outside, and more importantly, from the inside. Support for Zionism is the weakest I have seen. Support for Israel seems to be getting weaker every day, especially from within our Jewish community.
The Zionist Spring is a new effort with which I am very impressed. It is not a political party, it is not a fundraising organization. It is rather a new voice of the Jewish people, demanding that Zionism become relevant in our daily lives again.
Through the Zionist Spring I can demonstrate my passion and commitment practically, by shaping the decisions of the Zionist movement through the upcoming World Zionist Congress, the “Parliament of the Jewish people.”
For me, there are four pillars on which the Zionist enterprise is built:
1) The unity of the Jewish people: sorely lacking to say the least. Almost three decades ago Rabbi Irving “Yitz” Greenberg’s CLAL developed an ad that said, “The last time the Jewish people was so divided we lost 10 out of 12 tribes – Forever.” Now I believe that we are so divided that we may lose Israel – forever. We need to develop a new grassroots effort to stop this growing divide.
2) Making or supporting aliyah: Although the numbers of people making aliyah are holding up or increasing, the vast majority seems to be coming from the traditional community. The Reform and Conservative movements seem to not be serious in terms of supporting aliyah. This is not healthy for those movements, this is not healthy for Israel, this is not healthy for the Jewish people. We need to develop a new grassroots effort to develop a plan that will attract Jews of all stripes to make aliyah.
3) Strengthen Israel: There are too many among us who think that the best way to strengthen Israel is to criticize it constantly. I’m reminded of something Rabbi David Hartman z’l use to say: It is ok to criticize Israel, but do it as a mother, not a mother-in-law. JStreet has brought criticism of Israel to a new high. Rabbi Rick Jacobs, who heads the Reform movement and is a former member of JStreet, is threatening to withdraw from the Conference of Presidents. Does anyone in their right mind think that these two examples strengthen Israel? We need a new grassroots effort that will negate these misguided efforts.
4) Ensuring the future: Without a strong Israel there will be no future. Without a strong diaspora there will be no future. Sure, Israel has warts, as does American Jewry. We need to develop a new grassroots effort to work, from the inside, to make things better in both Israel and in the diaspora, or there will be no future for the Jewish people.
As we celebrate Israel’s 66th birthday please join me by working to return Zionism to the level of importance it used to have and must have again. The future of diaspora Jewry, the future of Israel, the future of the Jewish people may depend on your involvement and support.
The Zionist Spring is at www.zionistspring.org.