a b yehoshuaCausing quite an uproar among Diaspora Jewry, famed Israeli author AB Yehoshua opened the centennial celebration of the American Jewish Committee with talk or the supreme importance of Israel in Jewish identity, and how only the state of Israel can ensure the survival of the Jewish People.

“For me, Avraham Yehoshua, there is no alternative… I cannot keep my identity outside Israel. [Being] Israeli is my skin, not my jacket. You are changing jackets… you are changing countries like changing jackets. I have my skin, the territory,” the author told the audience, adding that Israeli Jews live a Jewish life in a totality that the American Jews do not know.

Having written for this blog for the past two years, I could have told him that his comments were gonna be incendiary (remember last year’s yom haatzmaut post?), but Yehoshua expressed astonishment.

Yehoshua himself told The Jerusalem Post that he was surprised by the uproar over his arguments. “It seems to me obvious that our Jewish life in Israel is more total than anywhere outside Israel.”

None of this is to say that Israel as it currently exists is all that it needs to be, but it’s a pretty fricken awesome place to be anyway.

What plagues Diaspora Jewry? intermarriage, assimilation and the phantom threat of anti-semitism. It is only in Israel that we can get past our fears and our otherness and move forward. It is only here that secular Jewry is sustainable. It is here that we can learn the responsibilities of being a majority. It is here that we can concern ourselves with Jewish purpose, not just Jewish involvement. It is here that we can discover who we really are when we are when we are not defining ourselves by who we are not.

Not that there’s anything wrong with choosing to live in the diaspora, but it’s just a different plane of Jewish existence here, and for all of this country’s shtus, I love it.

About the author

Laya Millman

76 Comments

  • But you have to be born there or have been brought there as a child to experience Israel as he is describing. You, Laya, will always be the immigrant, the outsider, no matter how much you proclaim to the contrary.

    Many many immigrants came and left after some years. This he does not address. That aspect of what you call shtus, that does drive people away. This improvement of the society is what I am interested in.

    In my day, they were very unwelcoming of immigrants. They were jealous for some stupid reason. I cannot tell if much has changed now.

    Still, I would move back in a flash.

  • Yes Jobber… and many native born Israelis hav left too. Integration of immigrants to Israeli life is a function of their willingness to integrate – learning the language and making the effort to make Israeli friends. But whatever, whoever you are and wherever you come from, Laya’s points remain true. In Israel the problems that plague diaspora Judaismn are simply not a concern, except insofar as it affects world Jewry as a whole.

  • It is only here that secular Jewry is sustainable.

    I am the Lord, your God, Who took you out of the land of Egypt from being slaves to them; and I broke the pegs of your yoke and led you upright.

    But if you do not listen to Me and do not perform all these commandments,

    and if you despise My statutes and reject My ordinances, not performing any of My commandments, thereby breaking My covenant
    (Leviticus 26:13-15)

    Better yet, read all of chapter 26, from verse 1 through 46.

    We’re all in this together. Chose wisely.

  • What’s amazing is that within Israel, Yehoshua represents a secularized elite that tried to impose a cultural whitewash on the Jewish people in the name of cosmopolitan socialism, and that till this day are trying desperately to undercut any unique, Jewish aspect of Israeli identity.

    That these folks turn around and condescend to diaspora Jewry is the ultimate definition of chutzpah.

  • “sustainable secular Jewry….” maybe, maybe not. No big secret that many chilonim are pretty religiously uneducated (due to the fault of the educational system and social stratification, I’m not blaming the chilonim). A friend of mine, a tour guide, was spending the night at a hotel somewhere with a group. Since it was Monday the next day and he had a dati group, he asked the concierge if the hotel had a sefer Torah. The concierge actually asks, “Ma zeh sefer Torah?”
    A friend of mine gave up religion when she moved to Israel, claiming that being there fulfills her obligation culturally, that being Jewish is in every aspect of life, not just a religious thing. I can definitely see that, but I also see how far removed from anything identifiably, sustainably Jewish, she has become.

  • Somebody marry this highly intellectual young woman, Laya. As these things happen early or never, I hope it will be early. What a fine mother she would make.

    Study released last week by the American Jewish Committee says half of Jews under 40 are not married.

    In general, from a going-forward standpoint, it does not matter what they do after 40. No babies after 40, not usually, anyway.

    But have a nice Jewish, Israeli day. Hava nagilah or something.

  • “Dr.” Mengele SURGICALLY sterilized us. Ba-a-a-d thing to do, Doc. Very bad man. Now, these days, we are SOCIALLY STERILIZED. It doesn’t hurt, so we accept it. But results are essentially the same.

    Anybody who finds our presence on earth irksome has no worries. Just has to wait us out.

  • Oh, the statistics are only a little better in Israel than America. Don’t preen, Israelis.

  • It sure is true that when you compare the cultural accomplishments of Jews over the past 50 years, Israeli Jews are so far ahead of American Jews in literature, theater, film, visual arts, dance, etc. This is true whether the cultural accomplishments are uniquely Jewish or secular in nature. Given this tremendous disparity, it’s inconceivable that any Jew would ever want to live outside the Jewish state.

  • What kind of Jewish mother offers so much advice without offering chicken soup?!

    But I’ll have 2 nagilahs.

    And I’ll also have a neranenah.

  • 1) What happened to annual “Marry Your Girlfriend Day”?

    2) Why don’t the big Jewish organizations have departments of marital match-makers, operating by request only, obviously, mining their national databases for appropriate set-ups??? It’s the least the could do for the imaginary “Jewish future”.

    TM could fix that up in a hot minute. In his spare time on coffee break.

    3) If that’s too complicated and icky, maybe we could just stop dying. As we have terrific medical researchers, who is leading the charge on this one?

  • Shy guy, you are not that shy. Have some soup. Are you going to take some nice girl off the payroll?

  • A mule is a sturdy, comely, useful, intelligent creature. But, if you leave two of the alone, you never get a little mulie. Because a mule is a sterile hybrid, the offspring of a horse and a donkey.

    I repeat, he / she is a fine, useful person, often with brains, some money and a cute sense of humor. I’m not knocking him / her.

    But please don’t be mules.

  • You wound me. I am not offering “so much advice”. I am only offering one piece of advice.

    Marry somebody and have a kid.

    Your ancestors all did. Are you dumber or poorer than your ancestors? Heaven forbid.

    Soup is cheap, easy, emotional and low in DDT. You rarely get fat eating soup. I just throw some stuff in a pot and come back later. No biggie.

  • EVERY marriage is a mixed marriage. Don’t try to find someone like you or who will fit in. Nobody will fit in.

    (Use your common sense, obviously. MOT. Cheerful, learned, and on time for dinner. As for the pillow, don’t worry. Really. I just don’t know how to make you stop fretting about that. Oy. You are inventing problems about that. You are old enough to work with that.)

    “Cheerful, learned, and on time for dinner.” A good rallying cry.

    A job would be nice, but jobs come and go. Family remains.

  • CK, you are right. Who doesn’t think of culture and refinement when you think secular Zionism? Truly a superior Jewish culture. And you don’t need napkins!

  • Mama, don’t worry about me. I’m happily taken already and my wife and I have more kids than this blog has authors. And my better half makes a mean chicken soup. But of course, I gave her the recipe.

  • The way I see it, if my kids primary identity was that they were “Israeli,” they have in many ways ceased to be Jews anyway in many critical ways.

  • CK, they may want to integrate, or if they were brought there by Zionistic parents, the society should make them aware of the unique transformation that can occur for them. Instead, to my disdain, and again I am only priveledged to be there for maybe 5-10 days a year, hopefully this Sept. for a second visit in 2006, but on my bus rides, I am often noticing small cliques of American kids by themselves, not one year kids, I am able to discern the differences.

    I do not only stay in the big cities, I noticed this up north as well, we did spend some time on a Kibbutz as well, I have friends up in the Nahariyah area, altho I do prefer the central areas today.

    I was not aware as Laya is, of this unique opportunity, instead I was glued to my short wave radio hearing US baseball games and rock stations for too many years, and I suspect the same holds true today in a more technologically advanced way.

  • when i met ab yehoshua he said two things: a) jewish life outside of israel is masturbation (his word choice); b) he would rather see a secular democracy in which jews and arabs are equal citizens than an exclusively jewish state (in other words, he is a proponent of “israelism”).

  • I’m afraid that A.B’s insights into diaspora Jews are about as meaningful as mine about all the Martians I’ve ever met.

  • Dede – I agree that that’s one area that needs improvement. While I often meet totally secular people who can quote Rambam, debate tanach and give amazing insights on holidays, there are also many, particularly in more remote parts of the country who have been totally over looked by the educational system. In my anecdotal experience I have found that there is a difference in basic religious (informal) education between sephardim and ashkenazim.

    EV – cultural accomplishments are wonderful, but not the end all be all of society. I don’t know where you are going with that (besides, if American Jewry had been fighting for its physical survival, losing some of its best and brightest to war and terrorism for the past 80 years, they might not have quite had the time to write all those nifty plays and novels.)

    DK – you also miss the point on the culture issue, but I agree that you want kids growing up in Israeli to also identify strongly as Jews.

    Molten – what are you talking about? AB has met at least Mobius!

  • No offense to Israelis, but comment #11 is one of the most amazing things I’ve read in a long time.

  • Laya,

    Cultural accomplishments are, in fact, the end all be all of society. Achad Ha’am envisioned a Jewish state that would be the center of Jewish culture and the wellspring of a new Jewish culture that would put Diaspora accomplishments to shame. As you yourself say, one reason his dream has not been realized is that Israel is focused on existence. But this sort of hurts your point, as you put it, that “It is only in Israel that we can get past our fears and our otherness and move forward.” Given the dangers you mention, Israel has not moved forward in the way the early Zionists had expected.

    But even if Israel wasn’t focused on existence, it still wouldn’t hold a candle to Diaspora culture. The great Jewish accomplishments — including the Talmud itself — are a product of that unique tension of Diaspora life, something that Israel by its very nature cannot compete with. Maybe it’s the complacency that sets in when people (not you, just people in general) start thinking they’re “actualized,” or maybe it’s the way Judaism is taken for granted in Israel, I don’t know. I just think Diaspora Jewish culture is without comparison, and there are reasons it emerged in the Diaspora and not in Israel, and this is something we should celebrate.

  • Whoa, EV!

    First of all, Tom, I hope you realize EV was speaking in jest.

    Second, EV, I hope you’re not trying to compare a market that speaks in a unique language to a market with hundreds of millions of consumers? Cinema, theater, literature, and visual arts have far larger potential consumers and potential ways of being promoted, marketed and reviewed than Israel can offer. Israel is smaller than NYC or LA in total population and its residents speak and work in a language used primarily and almost exclusively by its 7 million residents.

    Saul Bellow had the entire English speaking world as a potential market; oodles of universities to teach his books; tons of stores to sell his books; far larger organizations to award him prizes. Can you say to me unequivocally that he’s a better writer than AB Yehoshua? Of course you can’t, because Yehoshua is a very fine writer.

    How do you expect Israeli cinema to compete when they can hardly muster enough money for about 10-15 feature films in the $1 -$2 million range annually? Los Angeles probably generates that kind of activity every month, if you don’t count the big or indy studio creations.

    The same goes for theater or poetry or any other art.

    You want to discuss scholarship? On a per capita basis, Israel excels. There are numerous top notch scholars in virtually every field working in Israel and many more who don’t get to work in their field because there are only 6 universities and being hired or getting tenure is extremely challenging even for the most competent. How many world class universities do you have just in MA?

    Sciences? The Weitzmann Institute was recently voted the best scientific institute in which to work by an internatioanl scientific magazine (I posted about it here somewhere). They have meager resources compared to other Western institutions of science. Here in the US, there are a bunch of universities that get over $100 million annually just from the US government for research, whereas Israeli institutions make plenty of discoveries of some importance with far, far smaller budgets.

    Remember the Arrow missile, created by Israelis using 2/3 US money? It is the first missile-anti-missile system in the world to work. The US has engaged two US companies with significant subsidies to create an American missile that can do what the Arrow does and over a much longer period, neither system has met with any success much less the success of the Arrow.

    So let’s not be so aggressive and self-righteous about culture and other achievements by Jews outside of Israel. In all my visits to Israel, I have always found bookstores to be packed with new Israeli books, to the point where I couldn’t understand how such a small country could produce so much literature. Same goes for music, technology businesses, scientists and especially humus. So let’s be nice here and compare apples to apples, not apples to oranges.

  • Well, you know, EV is right. The Diaspora far outweighs Israel in cultural achievement, although to be fair Israel has produced literature and art and made scientific achievements that rival all other literature, art and science in the world, Jewish or not. (Its film and music industries, on the other hand, we won’t get into.) Of course, Israel is 58 years old and the Diaspora is 2592 years old, so it may not even be fair to compare them.

    But damn, am I the only fucking Jew in the entire world who doesn’t feel the need to make every idea I hold and every decision I make into some universal truism for all Jews? Ultimately, who gives a fuck about the deep meaning and cultural accomplishments? It’s all just a bunch of blather. You live where you like. Some people like America. Some people like Israel. I love Israel, but just because I personally find some meaning to my life here doesn’t mean it’s a panacea for the ills of worldwide Jewish society, whatever they may be. It doesn’t mean everyone else Jewish should live here. It doesn’t mean every other Jew feels at home here. It’s intensely personal. And I’m confident enough in my own feelings that I don’t have to project them into this overriding “We all should live in Israel because it’s what’s best for Jewish culture because the Diaspora sucks!” complex.

    In short: why do I live in Israel? Because I like the weather and the hummus and other Jews (well, sometimes). And honestly, that’s a much more solid foundation than living in Israel because of ideology or belief in the superiority of Israeli Jewish culture as opposed to Diaspora Jewish culture. You should live in Israel because you like Israel for Israel, not because you lack faith in the Diasporic culture. Ideologies shift. Hummus remains.

  • TM,

    First off, A.B. Yehoshua is one of my favorite writers bar none. “The Lover” and the terribly-translated-title “Open Heart” (Shiva Mi’hodu is I think the original) are among the best things I’ve ever read. In my opinion, Bellow doesn’t even come close. And despite his frequent lambasting of the Diaspora condition, Yehoshua has written beautiful pieces (heavily influenced by Gershom Scholem) about Israel’s status as the revitalizer of Jewish life.

    But I’m responding to the general argument that Israel is the place for Jews to be fulfilled. As A.B. put it, “It seems to me obvious that our Jewish life in Israel is more total than anywhere outside Israel.รขโ‚ฌย Um, respectfully, no. As you yourself attest, Israel is what Kafka called a “minor culture” (he was referring to Yiddish theater at the time, but he could just as well have been describing the conditions outlined in your comment.) And I would argue that it isn’t just the ubiquity of English or the $$$ in the Diaspora that has given rise to the magnificent flourishing of Diaspora culture throughout the ages. I’m not just talking about America.

    btw, my Zionist friend, missiles aren’t “culture,” no matter what they teach you.

  • TM,

    Huumus and felafel were not invented by Israelis. This is false. These are arab foods. Your Zionists did not invent them.

    Your point about the Arrow missiles is hardly a proof of “culture.” Nobody doubts that the Zionists are better at finding improved ways to blow shit up than Diaspora Jewry. this is not “culture.”

    As for your “per capita” bullshit, just compete or shut the f-ck up. You are essentially conceding that Diapora Jewry kicks the Entity’s ass culturally. Your concession is accepted. Go plant a tree and delcare it Gan Eden.

  • The other problem w/ it, is that you can live a very Jewish life, if you devote much time to Torah study, this you can do anywhere. The Haskala movement in effect, created the intermarriage problem in the first place. If all Jews would be frum, or traditional minded, there wouldn’t be intermarriage.

    While I have my issues w/ the frum world, I have never found much in the secular Judaism that comes close to discovering an old sefer and being able to muddle through and learn from it.

    I have not seen in the secular movement much in terms of mystical. For this, they swing back to the Torah world, albeit on their own terms.

  • Well said, themiddle. There are many fine Israeli writers writing and publishing in Hebrew and, hard as it is to believe, Israelis actually buy and read these books. Same goes for popular music. While I don’t want to speak too soon about Israeli cinema, in the last five years or so there have been some pretty remarkable accomplishments in that area as well. And how many internationally celebrated classical musicians have come out of Israel? That’s just the arts. As themiddle pointed out, Israel is tremendously accomplished in the sciences. And yes, diaspora Jews are also accomplished in pretty much every field imaginable with the debatable exception of athletics, though there are some isolated examples there as well. Why does it have to be a contest? I’m very proud of Israeli culture and I don’t really appreciate EV’s trivializing it. I also don’t appreciate Yehoshua’s comments. I think he’s an idiot for alienating supporters of Israel and, for an acclaimed writer, his words are utterly graceless.

  • I dunno, EV, the last comment by a certain anti-Zionist dude kinda leaves me thinking that some diaspora Jews have significant reading and comprehension problems. Hummous and falafel are Arab foods. ๐Ÿ˜† Thanks for the info, Kelsey, I had no idea.

  • Ofri,

    In light of the triumphalism of this post’s title and content, my purpose was not to trivialize Israeli culture but to defend the dynamic energy, culture and vitality of Diaspora life.

  • TM,

    Didn’t they teach you the difference between Non-Zionism and Anti-Zionism at Camp Ramah?

  • Kelsey, you keep projecting…

    JM, you got any hot young sharp-witted potential matches for Michael? Moving to Israel required. If you’ve got people in NY, someone a little slower and perhaps less hot will do for Kelsey.

  • In terms of spiritual and observant life, Israel has no match. Israel is the place closest to Hashem. In terms of a chance to live a life connected to Hashem, Israel is the highest.

    And EV, don’t forget there is a Jerusalem Talmud too ๐Ÿ™‚ and the Mishna, and a couple of other books that are worth reading…

  • Wow, we’ve got some bitter Diaspora Jews here. It seems that some Diaspora Jews have the need to put down Israel/Israelis in order to feel better with themsleves. Sad.

  • Hila,

    did you read the original post? Did you read A.B.’s comments in that post? Who is putting whom down, and why? What sort of nourishment to Israeli intellectuals get from dismissing Jewish life in the Diaspora? That’s what I’d like to know.

  • *sigh*
    I would gladly give up all the considerable accomplishments of Diaspora Jewry made over the past 100 years if I could get back those 6 million Jews. Yeah. The Diaspora’s been fantastic for us!

  • ck,
    I doubt that Israel as we know it today would exist if not for the murder of those 6 million Jews.

  • EV,

    You don’t have to agree with him. Personally, I believe that people should live wherever they please. I don’t have a problem with Jews living outside of Israel, I don’t even have a problem with Israelis who choose to move out of Israel. But there’s no need to be so aggressive about it. I’m not going to put down Diaspora Jews just because some don’t think high of Israel and Israelis. I, as an Israeli, don’t feel I’m in a competition with Diaspora Jews. We live in different worlds, it’s like comparing apples to oranges as someone here has mentioned. How about live and let live?!

  • “In terms of spiritual and observant life, Israel has no match. Israel is the place closest to Hashem.”

    Muffti’s confused: isn’t God everywhere?

  • Oy Muffti, that’s like a whole discussion in itself. Of course, if you’re reading the Torah, he ain’t exactly everywhere in some portions, but he is who he is and therefore could be understood to be everywhere. Still, I don’t think our Israelite ancestors grasped monotheism quite as we do.

  • ck,

    What exactly is your point? That Diaspora Jewish life ends inevitably in genocide? That the Diaspora isn’t worth it because of the risk of extermination? I never thought you were the type to wear Holocaust-tinged glasses, but if what you say is true, it actually makes a strong argument against living in Israel, no? Or is Israel the safest place in the world for Jews? You pull out the Holocaust card and I get so confused!

  • You’re all talking past each other. The Diaspora was needed and it produced a vast array of Jewish learning, Torah study and scholarship, as well as culture and folklore, music, art, etc.

    There is no Israeli identity w/out the Diaspora.

    There is no question that we in the Diaspora do belong in Israel, but everyone has their problem to get there.

    The constant anti-semitism that was mentioned is an acute and stressful problem in many places, but it pales in significance to the arab terrorists that Israelis have to face.

    IMHO, in North America, it is a slightly different kind of A/S, not as severe. It is based on an economic jealously, there is a perception that all jews have been blessed by Ha-Shem, w/ great wealth. The problem is that in many cases it is astounding how complete imbeciles and boors, I have seen in a matter of a few years, have become absolutely wealthy, out of nothing. This is seen by others and they become jealous. As well the Jews in North America, enjoy to flaunt their new wealth w/ large and fashionable homes, they have turned some places into that Hungarian style Brooklyn. Of course, the average educated North American takes this rude behavior in stride, I say rude because there are many Poskim who ruled that one should not flaunt their wealth in the Golus, I think even Rashi mentions this, but certainly the Chofetz Chaim, but at any rate, the A/S is based on these reasons, and is not as insidious as what you have in Israel, a fuck-you here and there, is not a major problem imo. If you can catch such a low life by all means do so, and contact the police.

    Israelis sacrifice more and therefore get more out of life. Same as what JM is trying to say.

  • Yes, Hashem is truly everywhere, as “Uncle Moshey” sang to my kids. Hey, he was better than Teletubbies any day!

    I suggest reading The Centrality of Israel, Why I’m Moving to Israel and similar articles to understand the difference between Israel and the diaspora.

    Looking forward to seeing your arrivals in the not-too-distant future.

  • Come on EV, don’t put words into my mouth. I’m not suggesting that you cease fornicating with the whore of Babylon and move immediately to Israel. I am simply noting that all of our great accomplishments in the Diaspora came at a price. And yes, Israel is just one Iranian nuke away from anihilation but then how many Jews would die from one tactical nuke being set off in New York?

    Our unique and impresssive Diaspora accomplishments could not have happenned without our being exiled and without our clannishness and pig headed insistence on maintaining our traditions and values and without our being decidedly different from those around us. It’s just freaky, and Israel represents the opportunity for Jews to just be who they are without having to feel like they are the “other.” The holocaust is just an extreme manifestation of the consequences of our otherness.

    Whatever, we can discuss it further this summer over many drinks. Unless someone throws you into an oven first!! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Hey shy guy that is Aish, Yemach Shemon, Christian propaganda you are posting, take it down Jewilicious mods.

  • I fail to see what was so revolutionary about A.B. Yehoshua’s comments. He’s 100% right, unfortunately American Jews seem to reject the idea that they are in exile (“Berlin is Jerusalem”, in this case “New York is Jerusalem”) – Mind you, there may be legitimate reasons (ECONOMIC) to remain in the United States and not live in Israel, but aliya needs to be seriously considered. Someone brought up the reality of those who tried to make aliya and couldn’t make it, but I suspect most of them would agree with Mr. Yehoshua, but, as I mentioned, there are legitimate reasons to live in Galut — but it should not be seen as optimal.

    (And, to the poster above, who mentioned the $ American Jews give to Israel — I am firm in my belief that both US Gov’t (economic) aide and donations from American Jews is BAD for Israel and has allowed the welfare state to last as long as it has, which hurts the poor by preventing economic growth and economic opportunity).

  • Ok you don’t like us. We don’t like you. I can live with that. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard a Sabra lecture me that it’s his god-given right to lecture me about what a worthless shit we all are. Trust me, I get it. Now go bang your head on the wall.

  • Jobber– that’s why I’m anti-semitic. Y’all have Hungarianized Brooklyn and the rest of America!

    Take your damned paprika and go home!

  • Nem, Middle!

    The perfidious Magyars displaced my forebears, the Celts, from central Europe. But all is forgiven. We diaspora Irish are OK.

  • They have a penchant, a rep, for overbuilding, these bulky, fancy shmancy houses in areas that are not architechturally appropriate. It’s an inside joke, you would have to be from a certain area of NY and then to have moved to North Jersey, to understand.

    I was addressing why there is more anti – Semitism in North America in the past 20 years. It is easy to say, Easu Sonnei es Yaacov. I look beyong the simplistic.

    Aish uses Christian slogans and in fact, in North America, they are targeting Christians to join there cult, I mean Learning centers.

    Aish siphons away much needed funds to help support the already frum, who cannot afford tuitions. Their empire of fund raising is second to none. They are genuses in this field. They are not afraid to try and and every marketing play, ploy, and method to hit their target.

    I could tell you alot of direct info. on Aish but this would be loshon Harah.

    Suffice it to say, their priorities are seriously imbalanced.

    They tried lately to hit frum people w/ their dopey movies, but hopefully this has not been cost effective for them.

  • He is 100% right. As a completely secular (don’t even think I believe in G-d any longer, but hedge my bets) Jew who has lived in three countries –and 7 different states in the U.S. –prior to making aliyah, I can absolutely say that being a Jew of any shape or description outside of Israel pales in comparison. Seriously, majorly pales. Here it is such an integral way of life, or maybe way of being is a better way to put it, that you are not even aware of it on any regular basis but it wholly suffuses you. You are not in the minority and carving your identity in contrast to those around you. It is simply who you are and who everyone else around you is, through and through. And there is no better place to live. There are headaches here yes, but the quality of life is far superior to anyplace I’ve experienced in the U.S., the U.K., or Germany.

  • TM: We are already in contact with Yael. Spoke to her the other day on the phone and she was gracious and fun. Looking forward to us all meeting some day soon!

  • In the late 50’s a Jewish group from Tunisia made mass Aliyah to Israel. They were taken to were they would stay, outside Tel Aviv. They put down their bags and all came into the street and said, “Lets go”. The Immigrant Absorbtion Committee worker said, “Go where?”. “The Beit Hamikdash or course” the Tunisians said. The Tunisians didn’t know that the Temple had been destroyed 1900 years ago. When they were told the Temple was destroyed, they broke down crying in the street.

    How do you think the Jews survived for 2000 years without a state?

    Having a land is NOT what has kept the Jewish people.
    Having a language is NOT what has kept the Jewish people.
    Having the Torah is the only thing that has kept the Jewish people.

    You may like living in the land… but it might be gone tomorrow. The land won’t keep you.

  • the previous posters raises the question if those who conciously remain in the Diaspora are really Satmar-like, meaning that they absolutyly reject the state conciouslty, even though they may go to rallies and events supporting Israe.

    Satmar is a group who is basically opposed to the state of Israel being created in the first place, and would not say Hallel on Yom Haatmaut,you could not sell, if you are a store owner, greeting cards w/ the Israeli flag on it, in their neighborhoods, among other things, but they are not the group who meets w/ Arafat.

  • My beef w/ this whole discussion is that the Israeli side does not address the issues concerning the true absorbtion of olim, something that was touched upon recently w/ the Enlish woman who was refusing to learn Hebrew thread. I think about 20% of my friends here in the Diaspora have tried to live in Israel and had to move back.

  • Gosh, what a nice, if slightly pointless story. I’m sure it served somebody’s point very well once, only it’s not true. The Tunisian Jewish community, like every other Jewish community in the Diaspora, knew full well the Temple had been destroyed by the Romans. The community on Djerba claimed to have one of its doors built into their synagogue. For fuck’s sake, it’s written in the Talmud (which is a compendium of rabbinic debate, Biblical interpretation, and halakhic rulings, among other things, in case you didn’t know). Maybe you should try cracking a volume open sometime if you’re so intent on the Torah.

    Or, an alternate idea is to save your opinions on the virtues of the Torah and your opinions in general until you’re a) Torah-observant or b) not a prick. You can judge other people’s behaviors based on the Torah when you have peyot, a beard, and a clue. Until then…gosh, how do I put this diplomatically?…kindly fuck off.

  • Adam, I know a few Tunisians who made aliya in the 50s or 60s who would take issue with your story. But, more importantly, why is it that no one on this blog can say/post anything without someone flying off the handle? It’s pretty discouraging.
    Jobber, there are resources for olim and absorption centers. If one does not want to be absorbed, as seemed to be the case with the English woman and I’m sure at least some of your friends, no one can force her or him. People who are committed to living in the state of Israel can and are doing so. No one promised it would be easy. Anyway, what that has to do with this particular discussion is unclear to me.

  • Ofri, well them saying it is better to live in Israel is fine, but it takes an effort to make it happen, A, and B, I can tell you first hand experience that not enough is done to absorb the western olim, yes if you are so gung ho, as Laya and her friends are, fine, and we will watch over the years, as the continue to refine and grown and hopefully marry and raise children. But for every Laya, one who ‘gets it’, at a fairly young age, she has stated that she is 24 yo, there are probably 100 Laya’s who just went for all kinds of reasons, and wound up unhappy and left. and that is a shame, bec. that means there are less shidduchim to be made one w/ the other. and I know first hand about this, because that is why I had to leave, as I was unable to find a shidduch there, and was able to meet a garden variety America Jewess, a first class person, w/in a few months of my migration to North America.

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