The Zionist philosopher Ahad Haam said, "More than the Jews have kept the Shabbat, Shabbat has kept the Jews." One could also say, “More than the Jews have kept the Land of Israel, the Land of Israel has kept the Jews.” We know that that connection to the land contributed in very important ways to Jews remaining Jewish through 2,000 years of exile. All this is to say that our connection to the Land of Israel, our connection to the environment of the Land of Israel is of paramount importance to Judaism and Zionism. It was one of our most important decisions, made at the moment that we were expelled from the Land that we decided to keep that connection to the Land strong. The Romans knew this when they changed the name of the Land from Israel to Palestine hoping to cut that connection. We made that connection strong by making it tangible, real, and full of meaning. It is not surprising that when the Dali Lama asked to be taught the secret of our maintaining our identity over thousands of years of exile, as he anticipates the exile of the Tibetans will be long as well, he was taught by the rabbis and teachers he met to maintain a real connection with the land.



Now that we have returned to the Land what do we have to say for ourselves? Yes we have succeeded in so many ways beyond our wildest imagination. But there has also been a price to pay. Martin Buber said in reference to the early Zionist's reverence for the land, "But what a great many overlook is that the powers released by this renewed bond to the soil do not suffice to accomplish a true and complete transformation." Our connection to that soil, one of the key elements to Jewish survival for almost 2,000 years of exile, is about a reciprocal relationship.

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This is why it is so important to vote for Aytzim in the World Zionist Congress elections. A vote for Aytzim is a vote for the land, the environment, and all of the people of Israel.




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