* Understand the various visions of Israel which have shaped Israel’s establishment
* Experience the dialogue and dynamism of the interchange between the views
* Form your own vision of what kind of society Israel should become
Time: 150 minutes
Materials * color coded policy cards
* Dreamer profiles and 4-6 actors to represent them
* large table for center of fair
* LCD and large screen to show trigger films
Description of the program:
1. Each participant is given 24 cards, six of each color. Each color represents a type of Zionism- a vision of what Israel should be like. The cards are organized around six central questions, each color having its own response to that question.
2. The participants are asked to read the cards, after the opening video is presented. They are then asked to discard three cards from the 24 they most disagree with.
3. The activity continues with a series of six stimuli (video clips and actors representing Israelis with dreams about their society). Each video clip refers to the major challenge facing Israel in each decade. After each stimulus, the participants are asked to discard cards according to the following pattern. They can also exchange cards. Each transaction occurs by them coming to the central table and placing the discarded cards in the right pile and\or by taking new cards from the appropriate pile. (Cards are arranged on the table by number)
Stimulus 1- (Challenge of the 50’s- mass immigration and grandchild of dreamer #4- Rafi Mizrachi) discard of 3 cards- 18 cards in hand
Stimulus 2- (Challenge of the 60’s- the Six Day War and grandchild of dreamer # 2 Elikam Cohen) discard of 3 cards- 15 cards in hand
Stimulus 3- (Challenge of the 70’s- decline of the Labor Movement and grandchild of dreamer #1 Tali Dagan) discard of 3 cards- 12 cards in hand
Stimulus 4- (Challenge of the 80’s- economic growth and grandchild of dreamer # 3 Ofra Navon discard of 2 cards- 10 cards in hand
Stimulus 5- (Challenge of the 90’s- mass Soviet immigration and dreamer # 6 Misha Feldman) discard of 2 cards- 8 cards in hand
Stimulus 6- Challenge of the 2000’s- the emerging mosaic of Israeli civic society and dreamer # 5 Shimon Elisheva) discard of 2 cards- 6 cards in hand
4. At the end of the Dream of Israel Fair, each participant has six cards in their hand, perhaps corresponding to the six central questions, but not necessarily.
5. The participants are then divided into groups according to the dominant color they hold in their hand. Each group has a facilitator and engages in a discussion:
a) why did I choose these cards
b) did I feel that my vision for Israel changed during the session?
c) do I feel that Israel is like my vision? In what ways yes, in what ways no?
d) Was this an easy or hard process to go through?
e) Are their ways in which I can help move Israel closer to my vision?
Counselor’s evaluation and recommendations for future activities (Please write this section after implementing the program):
Specialist or supervisor’sevaluation and recommendations for future activities (Please write this section after implementing the program):
Name of Camp: ___________________________________________
Dreamer # 1: Racheli Dagan
Born: Minsk (1890)Profile: Coming from a traditional home- rejects Jewish tradition and Jewish life in Europe. Thinks that Judaism is trapped in the past and that modern times demand a new approach to Jewish life- without rabbis, religious laws or antiquated practice. Jewish life has to be completely reinvented based on the following principles: equality between the genders, social and economic equality, dedication to the common good, close connection to land and to labor.
Dream: To build new settlements in Palestine, to transform wilderness into small intimate and egalitarian communities. This new Jewish creation will transform the country and provide an example for all of humankind about what tomorrow can look like.
Grandchild of Dreamer # 1
Born: Kibbutz Givat Brenner- lives in South Tel Aviv (1987) Profile: Grew up on a kibbutz which has over the years lost most of its traditional characteristics: people no longer farm, the kibbutz has much less power over its members and their individual decisions, many people work off the kibbutz, there is no longer complete equality, the kibbutz operates many businesses and operates as a capitalist entity and kibbutz members are for the most part more interested in a suburban type of quality of life and less in social change and involvement. Tali still believes that young people can change society, that there is great value in small groups working for change, and that Israeli society today is way too competitive, individualistic, devoid of values and materialistic.
Dream: To live with her peers in urban communes in South Tel Aviv, one of Israel’s poorer neighborhoods, and to empower local residents in the area of community development, education and social services. The mission of the youth in Israel today is not to build new rural settlements but to change the fabric of Israeli society to make it more democratic, more equal and more citizen driven. The children of kibbutzim today are called to a new social challenge.
Dreamer # 2
Born: Nice, France (1914)
Profile: Grew up in a traditional home that also believed in the need to integrate Judaism with the modern world. His parents spoke about the changes in society and in Jewish life and about the sense that how remarkable it is that Jews are starting to talk about going back to Palestine. For 2000 years Jews have been in exile, but this is now beginning to change. This new era in Jewish history demands a more active approach by Jews- we are at the beginning of the Messianic Era and it is our job as Jews to help the Messiah along by ending the Jewish exile and returning to Palestine.
Dream: To establish in Palestine the basis for the beginning of the redemption of the Jewish People. For the period of redemption to begin, our sages teach, three things have to be complete: The Torah of Israel, the Land of Israel and the People of Israel. Our efforts in Palestine are to create a State based on these principles: we will live according to the laws of the Torah, which form the basis for a just Jewish society; we will work for all of the Jews to come out of exile and live here in our newly reclaimed homeland, and we will soon inherit all of the Land our God has promised to Abraham and our forefathers. All of these are equally important, the Torah commands us to justice, to ingather the exiles and to settle the land. Yes, we can accept compromises on this path, sometimes G-d’s plans are hidden from us, but our ultimate goal is clear.
Grandchild of Dreamer # 2
Born: Karnei Shomron (1982)
Profile : I was born in 1982- my father was one of the paratroopers who was privileged enough to be one of the first to enter into the Old City of Jerusalem in June, 1967- that miraculous day when the People of Israel were reunited with our eternal capital and the Land of Israel which God promised us. If there were any doubts about whether redemption was on it way, that miracle conquest and vanquishing of our enemies took care of that. We were living in Beersheva at the time, but the opportunity to be among those who were reclaiming the Land of Israel brought us to this hilltop in Samaria which today is a bustling community. Hundreds of thousands of us came back to our roots- our religion, our Land, our People. We will never leave it, no matter how misguided government policy might be. Once the Arabs understand that this is our place and that we cannot be moved, they too will accept that this is G-d’s way.
Dream: The most important thing today is to continue to claim this land, to build settlements, to claim the hills and valleys- all of the Land of Israel is precious to every Jew, and we have no right to give it up- after all God gave it to us. My dream was deeply challenged by the retreat from the Gaza Strip and by these talks today about giving up additional territory. If we lose the reasons why we are here, the reasons that G-d has chosen us to be here, then we are not worthy of any of this. My dream is that the same resolve that our ancestors, my grandfather, had to build this land and live God’s laws, will characterize my generation. It is true for some of us, but unfortunately a big part of Israeli society is drifting away, embracing false idols, just like the Children of Israel in the Dessert.
Dreamer # 3:
Born: Vienna, Austria (1910) Profile: The Jewish people have created great creations over the year- monotheism, the prophetic tradition, our great books. This is our unique genius, our contribution to mankind. But as I look around me in Europe, I see that our creativity and genius are losing their power. Anti-Semitism on the one hand and the choice that Jews have to make between being modern and being Jewish on the other has created perhaps the most serious challenge ever to Judaism and Jewishness. The only way we can continue to be creative, to produce our culture, and to benefit the world is if we have our own territory and society- where we are a majority and we can create on our own terms. That can’t be done in Europe, it can only be done in Palestine.
Dream: What an amazing society it can be if we unleash once again the creative powers of the Jewish People. This place can be a center and inspiration for Jews everywhere- it can be the hub at the center of the Jewish wheel, with communities around the world as its spokes. Not every Jew has to live here, but this is the center of Jewish culture. We will establish world leading universities, museums, performing arts and hospitals. Hebrew culture is an endless well from which we will produce Nobel prize winners, world famous musicians and leaders in science and business. Jews will come here, not because they feel they have to, but because of the amazing quality of life they can achieve. In some ways we will be a very normal society, in others, we will become a light unto the nations- out of our normalacy we will create something very special.
Grandchild of Dreamer # 3:
Born: Haifa, Israel Lives Silicon Valley, California (1983) Profile: My life is actually quite complicated. I grew up in Israel, served in the army, and received my degree in software design at the Technion, Israel’s leading University and Research Center. I finished school at age 23, and at age 24, along with two friends, we created a start up and raised millions in venture capital to fund it. Then last year, the bubble burst, and our competitors in Taiwan got their product to the market before us. I am not sure what I will do now. I looked for work last year in Israel, but couldn’t find the right thing, and this great offer came from Palo Alto and Stanford. I am only here for a bit, to develop my skills, make some money, and then back home. I wish Israel were an easier place to live and do business- but the taxes, violence, the political unstability, the religious coercion, sometimes I ask where did we go wrong.
Dream: You cannot imagine how talented me and my friends are, and if we were given the chance what we can do here. This country has so much going for it, brains, talent, technology an amazing entrepreneurial spirit- we can create an amazing world center. If there is peace, this whole area can be the economic center of the world. The Arab’s oil and our technology, why we can end the energy crisis just like that. I imagine an Israel, clean, green, efficient bursting with culture and creativity. We have amazing writers, great film, world class musicians and our scientists and researchers- we already lead the world in irrigation, mobile technology, internet security, bio-medical and nano technology. That is the Israel I envision. Jews coming, going- an open, pluralistic, inviting society- with the highest standard of living in the world. A free society- a free market, individual liberties, individual choice- that is my dream.
Dreamer # 4: Yosef Mizrachi
Born: Marakesh, Morocco (1927) Profile: .All of a sudden everything is in turmoil- for years we have lived here in peace with our Arab neighbors, honored guests in this society. But recently, ill winds have been blowing. Some of my cousins were harassed, my brother was assaulted, my parents lock the door at night. We had heard miraculous news about the creation of the State of Israel, our age old dream finally fulfilled. And then those shlichim, those emissaries of that new State came and told us that it was time to go home. The police started to make threatening noises, our Arab neighbors are yelling at us about poor Arabs in Palestine. Our place is no longer here. A miracle has happened, we are being brought home- but I have no idea what to expect, no idea what life will be like there. I think much is about to change, and change is not very good.
Dream: Our life, our traditions, the honor we show our ancestors and our rabbis and our teachers- that is the life we need to create for ourselves in Israel. Just like we lived here, but even better, in our Promised Land, with God’s blessing. We don’t need much, a chance to make a living, to live in our own country, with our traditions and our sages at the center of our existence. I dream of my children learning with our rabbis and our sages, taking care of their parents and grandparents, worshipping in Jerusalem. One thing though is clear, this is our country, not an Arab country. Like we were honored guests in Morocco, they will be honored guests in our country. If they accept that, no problem. If they don’t, we will not once again feel threatened by them.
Grandchild of Dreamer # 4: Rafi Mizrachi
Born: Dimona, Israel (1986) Profile: When I think of how much suffering my grandparents have undergone- I am sometimes full of rage. They were taken from their homes, with no real knowledge or understanding of where they were going. They plunked them down in the middle of the dessert , with no jobs, under difficult conditions. That’s where I grew up, as part of an underclass you might say. My immigrant parents, uneducated manual workers, never exactly fitting in. They could have done a lot more for them, but they weren’t European, weren’t part of the elite, and this new society wasn’t exactly theirs. I am just as Israeli as anyone else- I was born here, as a matter of fact people like me are now a majority here. After years of feeling like outsiders, alientated and underprivileged, we can now fight for our rights and our traditions and our culture. Poverty is hard to overcome, it’s hard to win from Dimona, but perhaps slowly this country is changing.
Dream: My vision of Israel is pretty simple. Our tradition will be honored again- Israel is a Jewish country. Not every law has to be a Torah law, I don’t keep all of the laws myself, but it has to be a Jewish country. All this talk about democracy is nice, but not at the price of us being Jewish. Why go and listen to some professor who doesn’t know his roots, who will probably go live in England next year- we should be listening to our sages- just like my grandparents did in Morocco. Jewish also means not Arab- they have 21 countries, so why do they need equality here? I know the Arabs, my family came from an Arab country, believe me- they understand only force and they can’t really be trusted. At the same time, I am sick of all of this fighting. I mean the land belongs to us, but we are always going to fight about it. Enough already- I don’t want my family endangered because of some zealots on some hilltop in Samaria.
Dreamer # 5: Shimon Elisheva
Born: Bnei Barak, Israel Profile: I cannot really speak about my grandfather the Zionist dreamer, because he was actually completely opposed to Zionism. He understood that Zionism was a crime against G-d, intervention in G-d’s divine plan for the Jewish People. He came to Palestine, not because he believed in that dream, but because after the Holocaust there was no way to be Jewish in Europe. All of our houses of worship, of study, all of our Rabbis, destroyed in that inferno. And so he came here- not because of Israel, but in order to keep up a Jewish life. Over the years he built a home, and then my father continued his way- studying Torah, avoiding the ills of the outside society, keeping far away from all of those atheists who have wandered so far from G-d’s ways. In my generation it is a little different perhaps. I also don’t love the Zionists, would never call myself a Zionist, and still am bothered by all those things that are wrong here. But on the other hand, there are Jews everywhere here, and every Jewish soul is important. There are more Jews here than anywhere else, and I have learned that by getting involved in the system, I can make life better for all of my family and friends. We can build new schools, yeshivot, have our own papers- build a Jewish life here as rich as we had in Europe. This is what I need and Israel is now the way for us to get it. As long as we are able to keep this way of life, the other questions don’t really concern me.
Dreamer # 6: Misha Feldman
Born: Moscow now lives in Ashdod, Israel
Profile: I cannot really speak about my grandfather the Zionist dreamer, because he actually wasn’t even aware of Zionism, or for that matter of his Judaism either. He grew up in Soviet Russia, just like my father did. It was against the law to practice Jewish culture, to speak Hebrew to have any kinds of connection to Israel. I guess you could say that they were barely Jewish. My father married a Russian woman, not a Jew, and then I was born. So, as for as Judaism is concerned I am not Jewish, but I was able to come here under the Law of Return, which says that if your grandfather was Jewish then you can be Jewish and come to Israel. Confusing, isn’t it? The truth is we had no Jewish content in our house, and if I am honest, I guess my parents came here, rather than go to America, because this was the place they could come to. America was closed to them. And so we came here, and a funny thing happened. This Russian kid became an Israeli. I learned to speak Hebrew, I went into a combat unit in the army and then to University, and now I am about to get married to an Israeli woman and build my home here in Ashdod. There are thousands of guys like me in Israel, and we want this country to be comfortable for us. So you can make a living, live freely, enjoy the sunshine and ocean- without the government taking your money, the Arabs taking your land or the religious your freedom. In Russia they know how to treat the Muslims- we should learn the same thing hear. If you are strong and free, then noone will bother you.
The Social-Economic Question
Israel is the opportunity of the Jewish People to live out the values of the prophets and to build a model society based on equality, solidarity and social-economic justice. The ills of consumerism and materialism can be cured in Israel.
Israel is the opportunity to let Jewish individual creativity and genius come to fruition. The free market, the entrepreneurial spirit and the catalyst of competition will allow Israel to be a world leader in technology, science, industry and business.
Israel is the opportunity to allow Jewish values, rooted in our Torah and our teachings, to inform the creation of a truly Jewish economy and society. Jewish communities have always operated according to the economic teachings of the Torah- regarding money lending, investment, and business practices. The Torah will instruct us on how Israel should behave economically.
The major imperative for Israel is to strengthen the country and to pursue its national objectives. That is more important than pure economic concerns. Israel cannot afford to solely let the market determine its future- it must sometimes make decisions not for economic but rather for nationalist reasons.
The Religious Question
Israel is a sharp break with the Jewish past. In the Disapora, Judaism had to become a religion in order to survive. In Israel, that is no longer necessary and Judaism can develop as a civilization, less linked to the synagogue, rabbis, religious ritual and prayer. This new Jew will have a Hebrew based culture, not based on religion.
Religion in Israel should be a matter of personal choice, including the choice not to be religious. It is a matter of faith, and should not be connected to the State. We need a full separation of synagogue and state in Israel. At the same time, religious life, as a private matter of the individual, should be encouraged.
The whole idea of a Jewish State is to make the state Jewish. That clearly means basing the State on Jewish values, commandments and the teachings of our sages. The Halacha, Jewish religious law, as interpreted by generations of Rabbis, tells us how to run our lives and how to set up a state. This authentic Jewish expression is the basis if life in Israel, and we must resist foreign and watered down approaches to Judaism.
Traditional Jewish values are at the heart of what it means to be a Jewish State, but Israel does not need to become a theocracy. Israel is the Jewish heartland and the Jewish homeland- thus a Jewish state will maintain a close connection with the Land of Israel, especially those parts where Jewish history has its roots such as Jerusalem, Judaea and Samaria, even if those parts are claimed by others.
Jews and Arabs can find a common language in Israel if they apply themselves to a shared vision of cooperation and social justice. Israeli society has to be based on the equality of all of its citizens and on mutual respect for the presence of two nations who share one soil. Israel must first be a democracy and not let its connection to Judaism get in the way of full equality for its Palestinian citizens. A true Jewish country is based on remembering that once the Jews were enslaved and were a persecuted minority.
A modern society cannot be organized on the basis of national and ethnic groups. It is the individual which matters most, no matter what their background. Every person in Israel needs to be free to realize their individual potential and live with complete honor and dignity. The law cannot discriminate and curtail one’s individual liberty because of their religious or ethnic background.
The Torah is very explicit that Jews are commanded to treat foreigners and others with dignity and care. The Arabs are our guests and even though Israel is not their country, we must make sure they have their own rights and dignity. Their religious leaders have the right to run their religious life, but the country as a whole is to be governed by our laws and traditions.
Individual Arabs should have rights in Israel, but the Arabs do not have collective or national rights to the Land of Israel. They have their own countries to express their collective aspirations, not in ours. Until the Arabs living in Israel accept our national existence and legitimacy, we must be careful not to give them too many rights and liberties, which can then be used against the existence of a Jewish State.
The Israel-Diaspora Question
The revolution in Jewish life that is required today can only happen in Israel, where the collective potential of the Jews to become a light unto the nations and establish a model society can be realized. Jews are free to live wherever they like, but only in Israel, under conditions of sovereignty and majority rule can we establish the kind of society we have dreamed of for generations.
Israel is like a hothouse of creativity and production that serves Jews wherever they live. Universities, research centers, businesses and think tanks are involved in Jewish innovation and progress that will serve Jews and the world everywhere. Jewish communities around the world will be strengthened by what Israel does, and we need to develop a mutual relationship between Israel and the Diaspora.
The overall trend of Jewish history is clear and our destiny is clear. The Jewish People in its entirety need to be reunited with their Land. We are witnessing the end of the exile, and the return of the Jews home. A full Jewish life is only possible in Israel. In the meantime, we need to work to make Jews more fully Jewish and more connected to Israel wherever they live.
Israel is not always an easy country to live in, but it is essential that Jews everywhere understand that it is theirs and is always their home. Our history shows us, that life for Jews outside of Israel is usually under threat, even when they believe themselves to be comfortable and at home. We need the Jews in Israel- our demographic advantage is constantly under threat, and without a solid Jewish majority in Israel, we cannot make sure that Israel will provide a refuge for Jews when it is needed.
The Geo-Political Question
Israel must be prepared to make a historic compromise with the Palestinians on territory. This does not mean that we don’t have a legitimate right, but rather that the real work of creating a model and just society cannot be fully advanced unless we have peaceful and normal relations with our neighbors. For that to happen, we will have to compromise on territory.
In today’s world, territory is less important than the quality of life. We have established a modern state, the borders are only important if people can live normal lives and progress economically and socially. Our insistence on territory and conflict with the Arabs will not enable us to focus on creativity and individual freedom and Israel will soon lag behind the rest of the Western World.
At its heart, the territorial question is essentially a religious question. Islam cannot accept a Jewish State in its midst, and giving up land that was promised to us by G-d will not change their fundamental rejection of our right to be here. It does not make any sense to establish a Jewish State without our united capital of Jerusalem, the burial places of our forefathers and other holy sites, even if the world doesn’t recognize that claim.
The Middle East is not North America, and Israel cannot relate to the Arabs around it like the US relates to Canada. Holding on to territory connotes strength, gives Israel territorial depth and shows the Arabs that we believe in ourselves and our national identity. Any compromise will only lead to a demand for more and make it easier for the Arabs to attack us.
The Relationship to Land Question
The return of the Jews to Israel is also an opportunity to develop a new relationship with the Land of Israel itself. The Land is essentially barren, a wilderness neglected by the long years of our absence. The Jews too have become barren because they have lost their connection to their soil. Both of these problems can be addressed if Jews once again begin to cultivate the land and to physically develop it, making the desert bloom.
In every modern society there is a critical place for the appreciation of nature, for the open space, for what is untouched by human hands. Development is important, but we also know that development, if not done wisely and modestly, can lead to our own destruction. Israel is part of the planet Earth and our first obligation is to make sure that protect and conserve the environment for future generations.
The relationship between the People of Israel and the Land of Israel is rooted in our relationship with the G-d of Israel. This Land is given to the Jews on condition that we uphold G-d’s laws and preserve what G-d has given us. Every inch of this soil is holy and our attitude towards it has to be one of love and care- an attitude which is rooted in our tradition and sources.
The Jewish People stand before the historical imperative of preserving itself and regaining its historical vitality. For that land and space are critical. This Land has waited for us to return and now we must exploit its potential to serve as our homeland. As more and more Jews return to Israel we must build more and more, securing the future for the absorption of every Jew who returns.