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Thursday, June 21, 2012

Jewish Leadership, Why Not From Zion?


This was the sign with the name of a session I attended at the President's Conference 2012.  I may not be all that young, ok I get senior discounts,  but the title, both the Hebrew and English--which weren't identical at all-- interested me. Will the Next Jewish Leader Please Stand Up

By the time I could convince the guards that I, as an official member of the press (bloggers were considered press by the organizers,) I was supposed to be allowed to enter even if it was crowded.  And when I got in, the ushers ushered me to a seat in the front row.  Contrary to what they had said at the door, there were a few empty seats.

The moderator was still introducing the speakers, and suddenly it hit me that they were all from abroad.  And as I listened carefully to speech after speech I became more and more disturbed.  Apparently the organizers consider "Jewish leadership" as a galus/galut chutz la'Aretz  diaspora problem.

What happened to:
כִּי מִצִּיּוֹן תֵּצֵא תוֹרָה, וּדְבַר-יְהוָה מִירוּשָׁלִָם.
for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
Micah Chapter 4 מִיכָה
Torah is the essence of Judaism and Jewish Leadership must come from Zion, from the Land of Israel.  At least the concept of young Jewish Leadership should have been considered as something for the entire world.  I really do not like the the separation.  It doesn't make it any better that the panel had representatives from Taglit-Birthright Israel trip, Limmud and other excellent programs who really care about the future of the Jewish People.

I was most impressed by the last speaker, Rabbi Rabbi Daniel Smokler.  He described introducing a non-observant Jew to Judaism as "an adopted child meeting her birth parents."  From my vantage point of over forty years in Israel, and also not being raised religiously observant, I think that doing what Rabbi Smokler does abroad is like introducing them on skype.  Torah in Israel is the face to face meeting.

Maybe the title was faulty, because it made me expect something else, something much larger and greater. 

True Jewish leadership can only come from the Land of Israel, because it is here that we can all unite.  With all my criticisms of Shimon Peres and the conference, I must say that it could only have had been held in Jerusalem.  A galut diaspora venue would reduce its effect.

I left before the questions in order to be on time for a special bloggers session with Peter Beinart, which G-d willing, bli neder I'll blog about another time.

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