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My Top Four Reasons to Care About Israel

Here are my top four reasons American Jews should care deeply and passionately about Israel:

1) Security.

Rabbi Yitz Greenberg argues that absolute powerlessness corrupts as completely as absolute power because it invites persecution.

Jewish history is a catalogue of such powerlessness: expulsions, pogroms, blood libels…

The early Zionists understood that a sovereign Jewish state was the only answer to the cyclical, but unending vulnerability and persecution of a powerless Jewish people.

If Israel existed just 10 years earlier, Europe’s Jews not only would have found haven from Hitler’s ovens, Israel would have taken out the ovens.

Where other nations may be immobilized by “mitigating” concerns, Israel remains committed to the well being of the Jewish people everywhere, even here.

If we do not learn from history, we are doomed to repeat it.

2) Identity.

Jews are not just adherents of a religion. We are a family, and Israel is our ancestral home. As such, Israel evokes the warmth of nostalgia, a longing for sights, sounds, and smells that we may only know from stories or the deep recesses of our souls.

Israel is the place we can most deeply and fully be ourselves.

There is nothing like being in Israel during Hanukkah and seeing the menorahs blazing in every town square, home, and store window. Israel is our true home, and we are stronger inside ourselves when we nourish that connection.

3) Covenant.

Longing for the land of Israel is perhaps the oldest covenantal tradition of Judaism, older than brit milah. The land of Israel links us with our past and our future. It links us with each other and with God. It provides us with spiritual transcendence.

Our passion for Israel contributes to the ongoing relationship between God and the Jewish people. Whenever we support Israel, financially, politically, economically, or emotionally, we are helping to keep the covenant between God and the Jewish people alive.

4) Hope.

Israel is all about hope: the hope that a ragged band of slaves, or survivors, could build a life of dignity and independence; the hope that the desert could bloom, the hope, currently much strained, that enemies can someday become friends.

I saw this most clearly last summer on our synagogue mission to Israel. On the Golan Heights, I was surprised by a profusion of statues lining the path to the defensive bunkers. Our guide explained that the fields had been covered with the remains of destroyed tanks after the ’73 Yom Kippur War. Israeli soldiers had converted the blasted metal pieces into these whimsical statues. The modern equivalents of swords were beaten not just into plowshares but into life-affirming art.

Anything is possible as long as hope remains alive. The very existence of Israel is a symbol of the hope not only that the Jewish people will survive but that someday every human being will be able to sit in safety and satisfaction under his or her vine and fig tree.

Israel protects us. Israel unites us. Israel gives us purpose. Israel gives us hope in a better future. What happens to Israel will affect us, whether or not we care about it or think it will. But if we do care, if we do think about it, if we participate in its wellbeing, we will be the ones to gain the most, through the inner strength, the communal connection, the spiritual fulfillment, and the energy to go on, even in the face of set backs. All this becomes possible through the promise and miracle of Israel, our Promised Land.



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Emily

posted February 2, 2006 at 1:17 pm


Israel… G-d’s chosen Land. I encourage every person who believes in the G-d of Abraham to make just one trip to Israel. You will NEVER be the same!



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Gail

posted February 2, 2006 at 3:20 pm


I am not Jewish but a Christian who loves Israel and prays for the peace of Jerusalem. I agree with Rabbi Grossman’s remarks. Blessings!



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sacred cow

posted February 3, 2006 at 11:51 pm


I’ve been to Israel and what I experienced was a nation run like a military camp and a vast, easily recognizable disparity between the communities of Palestinians in Israel and those of Israeli Jews. Not a thing anyone of good conscience would or should be proud of. Not a thing..



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rebecca

posted February 5, 2006 at 2:47 pm


I get how powerlessness is dangerous, but how does it “corrupt”? sacred cow– the gap between Palestinian/Jewish communities is a serious problem. . .but how is Israel run like a military camp? (I’ve been here for 6 months, lived here for a year previously)



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Annie

posted February 7, 2006 at 1:54 am


Beautiful comments from Rabbi Grossman, I cried. Blessings on the Holy Land! -Annie



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debra hoffpauir

posted February 7, 2006 at 2:05 pm


Okay, up front, I am a Christian. I have a lot of respect for a religion that produced Jesus. According to my bible the nation Israel is part of a biblical promise to his chosen people. Besides, I will always be on the side of the underdog. Right now Israel is surrounded by enemies and fighting for it’s life. Remember too, Israel’s people came from Nazi-occupied countries and other countries where the Jews were persecuted. Americans were blessed.



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Dr. Norman Gold

posted February 8, 2006 at 1:59 pm


Firstly, a huge “Yasher Koach” to Rabbi Grossman on these comments. Absolutely terrific. It is so true – if Israel had existed as a sovereign entity only a few years earlier, not only would there have been a haven for so many of the Jews that died in the camps, but most certainly the ovens would have been taken out. As to commenters like “sacred cow”, the answer is so very obvious, and it is three-fold. Firstly, if you don’t like the disparity between Jews and Psalestinians in Israel, and you would like to be intellectually honest, how about comparing the situation of Palestinians in Israel to that of the Jews in Syria right now. The differences would be funny, if they weren’t so deadly serious. Secondly, how about comparing the situation of the Palestinians in Israel (in every way – socially, economocally, educationally, levels of health care, etc.) to that of the average citizen in most Arab countries, whose levels of poverty, ignorance, etc. is so much worse, devastatingly so. Lastly (and this is the most obvious one to any student of Middle East history) compare the levels of ANYTHING (education, salaries, health care, even political rights etc.) for the Palestinians under Israeli sovereignty to that of those same Palestinians when the areas were under Jordanian rule from 1948 to 1967. The Palestinians have it so much better now than they did then, it is scary. To see it any other way clearly shows anti- Israel bias, maybe even anti – Jewish sentiment, rather than an honest look at the facts on the ground. No surprise there, eh? Dr. Norman Gold



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eastcoastlady

posted February 10, 2006 at 1:41 pm


I’m sorry I waited until today to read Rabbi Grossman’s article. I loved it!



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Chana Levi

posted February 14, 2006 at 6:48 pm


The rabbi’s article about Israel was beautifully expressed and very true. As for the one-sided portrayal of Israel by the Western anti-Semitic media, it is really sad that so many American Jews are equally influenced by its bias and do not see the truth. Since a pathetic number of American Jews even visit Israel, (we get more Christian visitors than Jews) no wonder they dont realize the truth of the situation here. The truth is that the Arabs are out to destroy us. The one thing you can say about Hamas is that they are honest, they do not want peace with us ever.



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beatrice gibbs

posted February 17, 2006 at 1:09 am


when will the world see & acknowledge that Israel has given their neighbor & Israeli Arabs jobs, free medical help (even when they are injured fighting Israelis), education, & other benefits lacking in their Arab lands? what do they give in return, except harm, injury, & violence? it’s not a balanced situation.



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chaiyah

posted February 18, 2006 at 10:45 am


I converted to Judaism over three years ago, and i lived in Isreal for nearly three years before i finaly had the courage to approach a Rabbi and begin the conversion process. Israel for me is a beautifull and inspiring place , both visually and spiritually. The jewish people have suffered the indignities of anti semitism, of being villanised and expelled from one home/country to another since the time of the Maccabies in Yerushalayim and before. Isreal has a right and a duty to exist, it is the only jewish state in a world surrounded by Christian and Muslim countries. The steps it takes to protect its self and its people are neccesary and just, Isreal does not actively seek to discriminate – its seeks only to protect its self from a majority of people who see blowing up Isreali children on school buses and in Tel -Aviv night clubs as an acceptable way of getting its point accross. These are the same people who have just voted into parliament a terrorist organisation who do not even recognise the state of Isreal and who openly advocate violance against both Israeli’s and Jews. Though i converted i will always consider Isreal my first and only homeland, and I pray that Hashem will speedily bring it the peace and security it and all its people deserve.



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Blessing Ejielo Hartvgsen

posted December 16, 2007 at 5:22 am


I want to convert to judaism me and my daughter.



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