NEW YORK (Dec. 28)
Uri Gordon, who heads the World Zionist Organization youth aliya department, challenged American Zionist youth leaders and activists this week to “lead a revolution to rejuvenate the Zionist movement with their idealism, enthusiasm and vigor to further the cultural revitalization, spiritual renewal and political and economic self-determination of the Jewish people in Eretz Yisrael.”
Gordon said the present hubs of world Jewry, the diaspora and Israel, were not analogous to the ancient centers of Babylon and Jerusalem which, in their heyday, were equal centers of Jewish thought, scholarship and religion. “I was astonished to hear American Zionist leaders speak of ‘Israel, the United States and the diaspora’,” he said, “as though the United States is not the diaspora.”
Acknowledging that America has become a first magnitude new gravitational center of galut Jewry, in the wake of the destruction of the East European hub of Jewish culture and religion, Gordon emphasized the centrality of Israel in fructifying Jewish life in the United States and throughout the diaspora.
“Israel and not America,” he emphasized, “will be the true gravitational core of global Jewish life from whose fountainhead source will come the principal contributions to Jewish education and culture. Israel will be the dynamo radiating energy to the diaspora to maintain meaningful Jewish life and identity against the lures of assimilation and the cults.”
Gordon called upon Jewish communities in America to make it possible for their teenagers to have the enriching experience of a year’s study in Israel.
“The Jewish boy and girl who have experienced Israel find it to be the most memorable event of their education and wholesome self-fulfillment. It gives them a profound understanding of what it means to be a responsible Jew positively identified with his or her heritage, people and homeland,” Gordon said.