Who we are?We are a bunch of Canadian Jews, born between 1948 and 1967. Most of us grew up here, and we had formative Jewish experiences - through our families, attending Jewish summer camps, schools, or synagogues, or on trips to Israel – so that many of us spent time in Israel as young adults – some of us spent years. And we went to Israel for “Zionist” reasons – because we felt part of the Jewish people; we didn’t think that Jewish religious practice in the Diaspora was sufficient; and because we believed that the destiny of the Jewish people is tied up with the politics of Israel, the culture of Israel, the vital existence of Israel, in a way that the destiny of the Jewish people is NOT tied up to the politics, the culture, the existence of the Jewish community of Toronto.
And yet, for various reasons (which some of us are interested to explore) we don’t live in Israel – at the heart of the worldwide Hebrew/Jewish civilization of which we continue to feel we are part - but instead, we live at one of its peripheries. We find ourselves raising families here, not there; speaking English, not Hebrew; involved in the political and cultural life of Canada, not Israel. And yet, we continue to believe in the centrality of Israel to our own personal identity and to the fate of the Jewish people. Hence the dilemma.
Unaffiliated InsidersThough we are in many ways more culturally, socially, experientially connected to Israel than were our parents, we are often unaffiliated with old-style formal Zionist organizations, as they were. When we go to Israel, we think of ourselves not as Diaspora Jews, but as some kind of insiders. We know our way around the place, speak Hebrew, and have felt what it is like to be an Israeli. When we travel to Israel, we catch up with friends, revisit old haunts, eat in our favourite places, and renew our deep bond with the people and country.
Core Zionist beliefs, Core Zionist questionsOur little havura of Phase II Zionists have been struggling with what we’re about. For us, Zionism does not mean automatic support for this or that policy of the current Israeli government, but does involves axiomatic support for the core belief in the right of the Jewish people to a national revival in their own country, as expressed, for example, in the Israeli declaration of independence.
We have different views on a range of issues, from the role of organized religion, to Israeli and Canadian politics, but at some level, we are all struggling with Zionism's three core questions: • Am Yisrael: what is the nature of the Jewish/Hebrew collectivity? (are we a nation? a civilization?)• Eretz Yisrael: what should be the destiny of the Land of Israel? (its boundaries? relations with neighbours? its ecology?)• Torat Yisrael: how do we interpret the three-millennium-long learning of Israel? (what do we learn from Jewish history, religion, culture, ethics?)
New Zionist ThinkingZionism was originally an intellectual and political response to radically new conditions brought about by the Emancipation. Today, the environment in which Zionism’s questions need to be answered is again radically changing. In just the last few years we have seen the failure of Camp David, the second intifada, the terror war, the Durban conference, 9/11, and the rise of anti-Semitism, especially in the Arab world but also in the liberal West; the rise of large Muslim and Arab minorities in western Europe and increasingly, North America.
Historically, Zionism was also an organized way in which the Jewish people integrated new political, scientific and social thinking. One hundred years ago, this meant the integration into Jewish life of liberal nationalism, technocracy, socialism and membership-based political organization. Today, we need to integrate into our thinking new concepts and new social trends: globalism, the changing nature of multiculturalism, and the clash of civilizations; the impact of new scientific thinking – such as memes and the spread of ideas; and new ways of organizing – emailing, networking, loose affiliations.
True North Zionist Conference, Festival and Family Camp: May 28-30, 2004, Camp George, MuskokaSome of us are challenged to engage intellectually with these questions, to discuss these issues, to learn from others who are thinking about these matters, and to dialog with each other and our Israeli peers. So we are organizing a Zionist conference, festival and family camp May 28-30, 2004 at Camp George in Muskoka, Ontario. We invite other like-minded people to participate.
So if you have so many lofty thoughts, why throw a party?We wanted to do something. We wanted to get people aware and interested. So we decided to throw a party. We wanted to celebrate our existence; to celebrate our sub-culture of Diaspora Zionism, contradictions and all. To gather in one place, listen to the same music, have a good time together. A small, fun form of Peoplehood.
Our next Event:Tu B’shvat @ Moonbean coffee house - Saturday February 7, 200430 St Andrew Street in Kensington Market. Live music, discussion, planting.
To find out more, or to get on our email list, send an email to: email@example.com