Rediscover Zionism this fall – its significance, its wisdom and its place in contemporary Israel and Jewish life. This is your opportunity to renew the great debate that led to the establishment of the State of Israel, and the strengthening of Jewish pride and identity throughout the world.
This fall, throughout Tishrei and especially during Sukkot, the Menachem Begin Heritage Center, with the generous support of the Schusterman Foundation, is encouraging a grassroots, Zionist conversation through Israel, and the Jewish world. Inspired by the publication this spring of a definitive
Zionist anthology, Professor Gil Troy’s The Zionist Ideas – we want to reignite a conversation about the most transformative and consequential set of ideas in modern Jewish history.
In 1948, Israel was fragile, the Zionist conversation was robust. Today, Israel is robust – the Zionist conversation has turned fragile. The Zionist Salons are an opportunity to jump-start conversations about Jewish peoplehood, Jewish statehood, and finding personal meaning through those frameworks.
Starting with the holiday of Sukkot – and building over the next few months, dozens of people all over Israel – and throughout the Jewish world — have already volunteered to host "Zionist Salons" — conversations in their Sukkot, around their dining room tables, in their backyards, in community centers, about what "Israel means to me" today. This is a chance to move beyond partisanship, go beyond the headlines, and go back to the basics.
We encourage people to be creative, to be civil, to be constructive — the idea here is to go back to the beginning, remembering that democracy begins in conversation, Jewish statehood began with debate – and we need to return to that discourse and to those core ideas that helped shape our state.
Below are ten different guidebooks, for ten different discussion topics, all based around texts from The Zionist Ideas, by Gil Troy, available in English (only, for now) on Amazon and from the Jewish Publication Society.
Each book begins with the same two pages of introduction, explaining the concept of the Zionist Salons. What follows is guidance for the specific salon itself, explaining the topic, introducing the texts, and posing questions for discussion.
Each guidebook concludes with a description, for reference, of the ‘six traditional schools of Zionism’ into which the various Zionist texts are divided.
Good luck. If you have any questions, please email email@example.com – if you have any photos – post them on social networks with the hashtag #zionistsalon.
If you have any conclusions, any Zionist visions you wish to share, email them to us — anonymously or in your name.
“The Zionist idea, recognizing the Jews as a people – Am Yisrael — with rights to establish a state – Medinat Yisrael — in their homeland, Eretz Yisra’el.” Professor Gil Troy, Zionist activist and author
Here’s the challenge: can each of you take a random quotation from a Zionist thinker as a key to conversation, whether we agree with the idea – or not.
“Our parents’ heroism enabled us to establish a living, happy society in Israel.” Rachel Sharansky Danziger, Israeli writer, daughter of Natan and Avital Sharansky
“Mutual responsibility became even more powerful once a distinct association was established for the sake of a single purpose, a single ship: the State of Israel.” Rabbi Yaakov Medan, dean of Yeshivat Har Etzion (Gush), a flagship Religious-Zionist institution in Alon Shevut.
“I am a Zionist. The first time I saw my son wearing an IDF uniform I burst into tears, I haven’t missed the Independence Day torch-lighting ceremony for twenty years now, and my television was made in Korea, but I taught it to cheer for our national soccer team.” Yair Lapid, Israeli media personality and politician
“The duty and aim of Betar is very simple though difficult: to create that type of Jew which the nation needs in order to better and quicker build a Jewish state. In other words, to create a ‘normal,’ ‘healthy’ citizen for the Jewish nation.” Ze’ev Jabotinsky, Revisionist Zionist thinker
“The real and organic holiness of Jewry can become manifest only by the return of the people to its land, the only path that can lead to its renascence.” Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, Chief Rabbi of Palestine and Religious Zionist thinker
“As feminists and members of national and racial minorities discovered long ago, the idea that a state can be void of any cultural, historical, or linguistic affiliation is a misleading illusion—which is not only naive but also oppressive.” Yuli Tamir, academic and former Labor Party Minister
“Am Segula implies an extra burden, an added responsibility to perform with a virtue born of conscience and to listen to what Elijah later called ‘the still, small voice’.” David Ben-Gurion, first Israeli Prime Minister
“The rediscovery of my identity, my community, my people, gave me the strength to fight for my rights, for the rights of other Jews, and for the rights of others, allying me with dissidents fighting communist tyranny.” Natan Sharansky, former Soviet Jewish refusenik and political prisoner, later Chair of the Jewish Agency
“Judaism… seeks to return to its historic center where it will be able to live a life developing in a natural way, to bring its powers into play in every department of human culture, to broaden and perfect those national possessions which it has acquired up to now, and thus to contribute to the common stock of humanity.” Ahad Ha’am, Cultural Zionist thinker