“We Stand Divided: The Rift Between American Jews and Israel”, by National Jewish Book Award-winning author, Daniel Gordis, is a fascinating, elucidating, and painful exploration of the rift that divides the world’s two largest Jewish communities: America and Israel.
In this thoroughly researched, exceptionally well-written, and easy-to-read style that is classic Gordis, the author delves into the different approaches American Jews and Israeli Jews have on the necessity, purpose, and validity of the Jewish State.
In a 1960 speech to the 25th Zionist Congress, David Ben-Gurion, not a religious believer in any standard sense of the word, said: “Judaism of the United States is losing all meaning… In the free and prosperous countries, Judaism faces the kiss of death, a slow and imperceptible decline into the abyss of assimilation… Jews living outside Israel are ‘godless’ and violate the precepts of Judaism every day they remain away.” He later justified his comments by quoting none other than the Talmud, which states that “Whoever dwells outside the Land of Israel is considered to have no G-d” (We Stand Divided, p.44).
On the other hand, with a vastly different ideology, Reform leaders in America, just a year after Herzl launched the Zionist movement, stated the following: “We are unalterably opposed to political Zionism. The Jews are not a nation, but a religious community… America is our Zion” (We Stand Divided, p.49-50). Lest you think this is an ideology of centuries gone by, be sure to read p.95-97, and the 2018 commencement address at Hebrew Union College (the academic center of Reform Judaism).
This book is an eye-opening, necessary, and painful exploration of why “we stand divided”.
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