Israel Education Blog

Photo of Rachel FishExtract from Rachel Fish's keynote to CJP student leaders, October 19th, 2014

...Not only was the modern sovereignty of Israel established but the language of Hebrew was resurrected and revitalized as a modern day language used not only for the sacred and spiritual moments within Jewish life but for the mundane — buying groceries, disciplining children, repairing automobiles, and developing a living, breathing culture of Hebrew life. 

Through Zionism, Israel became the laboratory of the Jewish people. This laboratory was and remains, the only place where Jews can wrestle with the challenges of modernity living as the majority population while maintaining responsibility for a citizenry that is not homogenous. Israeli Jews holding power in the nation-state created for the Jewish people yet beholden to democratic values and norms is challenging. How does one treat the stranger in our midst? How is “Jewishness” understood and what is the role of the state in defining Jewish identity? What ought the relationship be between Israeli Jews and Jews living throughout Diaspora? What are the challenges and opportunities for Israel as both a Jewish and democratic state?  Grappling with these types of issues and questions demonstrates the complexities surrounding Israel and they continue to resonate today as they did sixty-six years ago.  

Rachel Fish is associate director of the Schusterman Center for Israel Studies. More...