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Tags: hanukkah | antisemitism | purim

On Israel's 75th and Beyond, Don't Repeat Mistakes of History

israel 75 years


Robert Zapesochny By Tuesday, 02 May 2023 03:14 PM EDT Current | Bio | Archive

Every year, Israel’s Independence Day (Yom Ha'atzmaut) is celebrated on the fifth day of the Hebrew month of Iyar, which was last week.

According to the Jewish Agency, there were 15.3 million Jews globally in 2022.

Approximately 85% of Jews in the world today only live in two countries: Israel (seven million) and the United States ( six million).

If Jewish history is any guide, the need for improving the relationship between the world’s two largest Jewish communities is imperative for the long-term survival of the Jewish people.

The United Kingdom of Israel and Judah only lasted from circa 1047 BCE to c.930 BCE.

When 10 of the 12 tribes rebelled, the Jewish people were divided. The 10 tribes formed the Kingdom of Israel while the remaining two tribes formed the Kingdom of Judah.

After decades of fighting weakened both kingdoms, they were both eventually conquered by their neighbors.

The Samarians were defeated by the Assyrians in 722 BCE and the Kingdom of Judah was conquered and the first temple was destroyed in 586 BCE by Nebuchadnezzar II.

It wasn’t until the Hasmonean Dynasty that the Jews were able to rebuild a second state around 142 BCE.

From the fall of the Hasmonean Dynasty in 63 BCE until 1948, the Jewish people were without a state for a little over 2,000 years.

The two previous Jewish states were defeated when the Jewish people were divided.

The Jewish people should not repeat the mistakes of history and allow petty divisions to eventually destroy Israel.

Judaism alone cannot hold the Jewish community together.

In 2020, according to Pew Research Center, only 46% of Jews fasted on Yom Kippur, only 20% of Jews attended synagogue at least once a month, and only 17% kept Kosher at home.

One of the few things that can hold the Jewish world together is Israel.

In 2020, according to the Pew Research Center, 82% of American Jews claimed that Israel was either an essential (45%) or important (37%) part of their Jewish identity.

This writer recently finished reading Dara Horn’s book "People Love Dead Jews."

Horn discusses the two forms of anti-Semitism facing Jews today:

"Two distinct patterns of antisemitism can be identified by the Jewish holidays that celebrate triumphs over them: Purim and Hanukkah.

"In the Purim version of antisemitism, exemplified by the Persian genocidal decrees in the biblical Book of Esther, the goal is openly stated and unambiguous: Kill all the Jews.

"In the Hanukkah version of antisemitism, whose appearances range from the Spanish Inquisition to the Soviet regime, the goal is still to eliminate Jewish civilization.

"But in the Hanukkah version, this goal could theoretically be accomplished simply by destroying Jewish civilization, while leaving the warm, de-Jewed bodies of its former practitioners intact."

In the United States today, the American Jewish community needs to respond to both the physical and spiritual threats to Jews today. In the end of the book, Dara Horn recommended a program called Daf Yomi ("A Page a Day").

This program requires a person to study one page each day of the Babylonian Talmud (2,711 pages). This online program takes seven and a half years to complete.

I do believe that Daf Yomi is necessary to combat the problem of restoring Jewish literacy. While Seinfeld was a great show about nothing, the Jewish people cannot be a people about nothing.

The current divisions between the predominantly liberal Jewish community in the United States and Israel did not begin with this current debate about reforming Israel’s courts.

The conflict between liberal American Jews and Israel predates the creation of Israel itself.

In 1885, Reform Jews passed the anti-Zionist Pittsburgh Platform.

In the fifth plank, Reform Jews declared, "We consider ourselves no longer a nation, but a religious community, and therefore expect neither a return to Palestine, nor a sacrificial worship under the sons of Aaron, nor the restoration of any of the laws concerning the Jewish state."

In 1937, Reform Jews repudiated the Pittsburgh Platform in the Columbus Platform and began to slowly support Zionism; however, it still referred Jews as more of a religious group.

Rabbi Mark Golub (1945-2023) said, "Being a Jew is not being part of a religion, it’s being part of a family, a community, a people. . . . Although God is very much a part of a Jewish tradition, the rabbis never begin with God. They always begin with people."

This is why Rabbi Akiva believed that the most important principle in the Torah was "You shall love your neighbor as yourself" (Lev. 19:18).

(A related article may be found here.)

Robert Zapesochny is a researcher and writer whose work focuses on foreign affairs, national security and presidential history. He has been published in numerous outlets, including The American Spectator, the Washington Times, and The American Conservative. When he's not writing, Robert works for a medical research company in New York. Read Robert Zapesochny's Reports — More Here.

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If Jewish history is any guide, the need for improving the relationship between the world’s two largest Jewish communities is imperative for the long-term survival of the Jewish people.
hanukkah, antisemitism, purim
Tuesday, 02 May 2023 03:14 PM
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