Can the two be separated? Can a Jew, even one living in Israel, be Jewish, without Torah? Does living in Israel somehow replace the need for Torah?

In his recently published Yom HaShoah article featured in Emor Project, Rabbi Nathan Lopez Cardozo presents two stances on Jewish identity: Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai and A.B. Yehoshua

Being Israeli is not identical to being Jewish. Indeed, to be an Israeli one needs to live in the land, and when the land ceases to exist, being Israeli no longer has any meaning. But, as Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai correctly understood, if need be, it is possible to remain a Jew—although surely not a complete one—without living in Israel. Yehoshua does not seem to understand that there would never have been a State of Israel if not for the fact that his own grandparents continued to live a Jewish life in the Diaspora. Had they and their contemporaries lived an exclusively Israeli life, there would no longer have been any Jews and no State of Israel would ever have been established.

What Rabbi Yochanan taught us is that Jews will survive without Israel, as long as there is Torah, the portable homeland; but Jews will not survive solely because of the existence of Israel—however powerful it may be—if Israel does not incorporate a large percentage of Jewish traditional resources. To believe that Jews will survive only because of Israel is an absurd claim that has no foundation in Jewish history or reality.

Check out the full article on Emor Project

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The Emor Project celebrates the beauty and richness of Modern Orthodox communities across the globe. “The Emor Project is a broad international endeavor, rooted in concrete Jewish reality. Our aim is not to create new entities or ideologies, but rather to coordinate human and intellectual resources that already exist but are not being utilized at their full capacity and potential.” – Emor Founder, Rosa Banin Blechstein Due to the combination of traditional Jewish religious spirituality and modern intellectual sensibilities, we believe that Modern Orthodoxy is better suited than any other element of Orthodoxy to confront todays most pressing issues facing the Jewish world.

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h/t: Sarah

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1 Comment

  • I have been spending a lot of time considering my own jewish identity and i too believe being an “Israeli” truly is different than being a “jew”. Of course we all know this and yet I agree there is some inclination to believe that living in Israel is sufficient for living a jewish life. I have recently been more and more interested in jewish mysticism and have been reading some wonderful stories on the Jewish mystics here – Definitely a worthwhile site to check out and has helped me examine my own jewish identity with greater clarity.