Thoughts from a Cafe in Jerusalem

As I sit here in the German Colony I feel torn between two poles of Jewish life in the twenty first century .  There is no doubt in my mind that Jewish destiny can best be fulfilled living in a Jewish state.  At the same time, I am not certain that the Jewishness of the Jewish State aligns with my understanding of what God wants from am yisrael.  At the same time, the cultural and philosophical baggage of America seem to fundamentally contradict my commitment to Halakha.

The Jewry of the Diaspora needs people who are able to translate Jewish texts, wisdom and history into a modern idiom.  This is the language that I speak – attempting to bring people from all backgrounds into conversation with their own Jewish life and at the same time, insuring that the carriers of our tradition are able to speak to a living, vibrant Jewish community.

Ironically, the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem is perhaps the greatest translator of our tradition – and they live in Israel.

Israeli society sorely needs a liberal notion of Judaism that can make room for multiple levels of commitment under the same roof.  What might it look like if Synaplex were able to help create synagogues through out the country?  If Yeshivat Hadar were the model for yeshivot around Israel, how might Israeli society be different?  Imagine what “Limmud Tel-Aviv” or “Limmud Afula” might look like – (LimmudUK, LimmudLA, LimmudNY,)

There are, no doubt, people on both sides of the Atlantic who are learning from one another.  The Israeli Academy for Leadership is a place that is attempting to present a fresh vision of what Jewish Life could be.  Yeshivat Ma’alei Gilboa offers a Yeshiva environment in which all ideas are on the table.

One solution is a mass aliyah of progressive Jews from around the world to Israel.  Will that work?  Will that happen?

As the internet shrinks the world, it is my hope and prayer that we are able to learn to embrace the creativity and vibrancy of both communities.


One Response to Thoughts from a Cafe in Jerusalem

  1. Raymond says:

    Very thought-provoking, especially your notion of “Judaism that can make room for multiple levels of commitment under the same roof”. No surprise to see Limmud mentioned in that context, as in its own way, that’s exactly the kind of space that Limmud creates wherever it is found around the world.

    Interesting too to note you wondering what Limmud Afula of Limmud Tel-Aviv might look like, because it might not be long until those are realites! Limmud Galil has been around for a number of years, and in the past few months new volunteer teams have set up Limmud Negev, Limmud Arava and Limmud Modi’in. Successful Limmud events have been held already in Yerucham and any day now in Dimona, with more planned for 2010. And yes, there are people already discussing the possibility of Limmud Tel Aviv. Im titzu, as they say….ein zo agada!

    Se the ever-growing list of Limmud communities and events around the world at


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