American Zionist Shabbat initiative aims to shift conversation about Israel

Heideman: If Zionism is a dirty word then Judaism must be likewise

October 26, 2017 18:32
1 minute read.
David Ben-Gurion

ISRAEL’S FIRST prime minister David Ben-Gurion (center) stands under a portrait depicting Theodore Herzl, the father of modern Zionism, as he reads Israel’s Declaration of Independence in Tel Aviv May 14, 1948. . (photo credit: REUTERS)


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American Zionist groups have launched a Shabbat initiative which strives to highlight the importance of Zionism to the Jewish people.

The American Zionist Movement and individuals affiliated with the World Zionist Organization, are the driving forces behind the “American Zionist Shabbat initiative.”

The movement has produced a source book celebrating major Zionist milestones over each Shabbat between the weekly Torah portions of Lech Lecha and Vayishlach, beginning this week through to December 2.

This coincides with the Shabbat before the Centennial of the Balfour Declaration issued on November 2, 1917, and the Shabbat after the commemoration of 70 years since the UN Partition Resolution was adopted on November 29, 1947.

The initiative seeks to inspire greater dialogue within US Jewry on the significance of Zionism and its continuing relevance to the Jewish people and community.

The materials and program will be distributed to community rabbis for use in their sermons and writings; day schools, yeshivas and Hebrew schools; and congregations, community organizations and Jewish institutions with the hope that they will generate discussions on Zionism.

“This week in Lech Lecha we learn that the first commandment given to a Jew relates to Israel and Zionism. Indeed, Zionism and Judaism are inseparable and we need to ensure that all Jews who are celebrating Shabbat around the world incorporate our common love for Israel – the land, the people and the culture – in the spirit of the unity of the Jewish people,” said Richard D.

Heideman, president of the AZM.

“Unfortunately, for some, Zionism has become a dirty word and idea,” he continued.

“However, if Zionism is a dirty word then Judaism must be likewise, because all of our Jewish sources, tradition and culture revolve around Israel, it is impossible to separate one from the other. We are working to ensure that the reestablishment of Jewish sovereignty in our national, ancestral and indigenous homeland becomes a central part of the lives of all Jews, in Israel and throughout the Diaspora.”

“Shabbat is a time when Jews come together,” Herbert Block, executive director of the movement, added. “The AZM hopes that a Zionist Shabbat will unite diverse supporters of Israel around the same ‘Shabbat table’ to discuss why Zionism is so important for our Land and people.”

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