As some of you may know, I’m on the steering committee for the PresenTense Institute for Creative Zionism, which is poised to do great things this summer in Jerusalem.

Now Jewlicious readers (whose Hebrew is up to par) can read all about the initiative in this full-page article in Haaretz’s business section, also known as The Marker.

English translation hasn’t been posted, but the PICZ’s founders are very proud to be a part of this effort, which they consider a great milestone in the movement towards a Zionist renaissance–one built upon the notion that the creativity of the Jewish People is brought to its full potential by our unity and our resolve to continue improving the world through improving our place in it.

On BlogsofZion, co-founder Ariel Beery posted:

As Ahad Haam foretold over a century ago in his essays and pamphlets–and particularly in his “Jewish State, Jewish Problem“–the creation of a political entity for the Jewish People will not alone save the Jews from the challenges we face in every generation. Instead, the State must serve as a focal point and a tool–a means for continual growth and development, for persistent creativity. We aspire to take up the challenge of developing new ways to approach Jewish life in the here and now, new ways that will affect the future of the Jewish People around the world–and if the extraordinary growth of the Israeli hi-tech industry is any indication, Israeli social entrepreneurship is certainly poised for an explosion in creativity which we hope to be a part of.

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Esther Kustanowitz

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  • Hey – Great to know that this exists. I only read the first half of the article – my reading skills are kinda slow after 20 years away.

    There’s a recent initiative of increasing awareness of Israel in US synagogues. The area I’m in Metrowest, NJ, has an extensive program of creating new programs for education, thinking, etc. If you want a contact, let me know.

    Also, in terms of defining the new Zionism, why is the focus on technology? Sure, Israel is advanced technologically, and contributed incredible concepts and products to the world market. One item I noticed missing in the first half of the article (maybe it was my understanding), is that there is no mention of the religious aspect of Judaism, or the fact that Israelis are pretty spiritual people, yet are not familiar with Jewish customs!!!! There is a program at one of the teaching colleges in the north which is researching the definition and creation of Israeli Judaism, which for many is much different than the Judaism of Europe and the US.

  • Creative Zionism focuses on exploring the frontier of technology because, well, the radical jumps ahead in hyperconnectivity are what will define the human species in the years to come. Communities are bounded by the speed of communication and response time–and today’s all-in-an-instant world poses new challenges to our People. But we passed the test before–developing a memorized cannon containing the Torah in the first Exile, a written Torah and memorized Oral tradition during the second, a written Oral tradition during Babylon, etc. Each time we adopted the technology of the times to ensure ties of communication and standard protocols of connectivity–hence, Midevil travelers could travel from one corner of the world to nearly the other and reply on Jewish communities to take them in and understand what they’re saying.

    I hear your point though, David–that is, there is a lot out there for people to focus on. And our fellows and members will hear from folks from all corners of the religious and social spheres as well as the technological ones. That said, I’m not so sure that Rabbinic Judaism is the model that will bring us into the next age of existence for the Children of Israel. In fact, I think that the Rabbinic Judaism that developed in Exile is very poorly suited for the contemporary array of Jewish community–leaving American and Israeli Jews to grow ever further apart.

    But that’s my personal point of view and not the point of view of the various, multi-denominational folks on our Steering Committee who made this all possible.

  • Ariel –

    All good points – I believe there is an opportunity to talk about Spiritual Judaism, and not just Rabbinic Judaism. I believe that many American Jews do not necessarily ascribe to all of Rabbinic Judaism, yet use it as a pretext to connect with others of their faith/heritage.

    I also note Spiritual Judaism, referencing the fact that American Budhism is very much influenced by Jews (Kamenetz, Boorstein to name two), and the fact that Hebrew is the third language in many communities of India, where army graduates spend time decompressing.

    Spirituality is indeed a part of everday life, even for Israelis. Yes, there are enough examples of Israelis who are not familiar with liturgy, yet there is something ‘buring’ inside them where they realize a connection between themselves, their community and their world. So for me, Spiritual Judaism is an integral part of Creative Zionism – it is not a fad – it is a way of connecting.

    Wish I could be there!

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