There are those who liken the connection between the two largest Jewish centers today to a romantic relationship. Some compare these two centers to two homes, while others are reminded of the ancient centers of Jewish life – the Land of Israel and Babylon. And some see Israeli and American Jewry as linked by a delicate thread that now threatens to rupture.
In Israel, there are several ever-relevant issues that touch on the Jewish people as a whole: the Western Wall compromise, the cancellation of the ‘grandchild clause’ of the Law of Return, funding for liberal Jewish movements, and so forth. Should Israel be making decisions about these issues alone? What role must the Jewish state play vis-a-vis American Jewry? What is the role of American Jewry at this moment in our shared history?
We’ve chosen to dedicate the current issue of our journal to these questions. Especially recently, when tensions around democracy in Israel are rising, and ahead of Israel's 75th Independence Day, we see it as vital to hear both Israeli and American voices. Therefore, our contributors to this issue hail from both Israel and the United States, and the issue will be released in both Hebrew and English.
Among the various points of view presented here, we can point to several differences. American Jews, it appears, see the political lens, including their political criticism of Israel and its leadership, as inseparable from their relationship with Israel and Zionism. By contrast, the Israeli contributors to this issue see other important subjects as central to their relationship with American Jewry: Jewish education, Jewish pluralism, the problem of assimilation, and, generally speaking, the ability to inhabit a complex reality that brings together seeming ideological contradictions.
However, what many of these articles have in common is a call for real, honest, continuous dialogue – dialogue in which it is permitted and even encouraged to criticize, share the things that trouble us, and push toward shared solutions.
As we approach the 75th anniversary of Israel's independence, we must re-examine our common story, and despite the severe conflicts, inside and outside, we must not lose the TIKVA for a strong and resilient Jewish-democratic state. We hope that we will continue to weave the common story together. We hope that reading this issue will bring us closer from disconnection – to connection.