Archives for November 2013

A Chanukah Message of Thanks

The coincidence of Thanksgiving and Chanukah has generated a great deal of conversation in the American Jewish community. It has even created a new holiday known as “Thanksgivukkah.” However, when we examine the themes of these two holidays more closely, we can see that they have much in common.

Thanksgiving is a unique American holiday in which all of us can participate. It is an opportunity to give thanks for the freedom of this country, for our ability to live as Jews in an open society even with all of its challenges, and for the special gifts with which we have been presented by the wider American society. It is appropriate for each of us to give thanks and not to take these gifts for granted.

Chanukah can also be seen as a time of Thanksgiving. Rabbi David Chaim HaLevy, a former Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv, writes that the Al HaNissim prayer appears in the Amidah in the section of Thanksgiving. He states that this is most appropriate, for on Chanukah we should give thanks not only for the victory of the Maccabees in ancient times, but also for its continuing message of spiritual and physical freedom for which we have fought and for which all nations crave. He reminds us, after the birth of the State of Israel, never to take this occurrence for granted.

We are privileged to live in a land of freedom and, at the same time, to express our solidarity with the State of Israel. Like the Maccabees of old, the people of Israel have stood up to tremendous physical and spiritual challenges. Israel remains for us not only a homeland, but also a beacon of light in a tumultuous Middle East.

As we light our Chanukah candles, as we sit down at our Thanksgiving tables, let us recognize not only our gratitude for the past, but also our dedication to making sure that the American dream and the Zionist dream shall live forever.

 

Rabbi Vernon Kurtz

Conference on Anti-Zionism and Antisemitism

On December 8, join the American Zionist Movement, the World Zionist Organization and the Consulate General of Israel in New York City to explore Antisemitism today, how it manifests itself and ask whether anti-Zionism is the new antisemitism. Featured speakers include author Daniel Jonah Goldhagen, US Special Envoy Ira Forman, Deputy Minister of Defense MK Danny Danon,  and Israeli actress Mili Avital.

To see the program: DRAFT PROGRAM 

To register: REGISTER (no longer accepting online registrations. You can register on Sunday at 130 E.59th Street) conference@azm.org

This program will be live streamed. Visit the iZionist site for more details on the day of the program.

 

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AZM Hosts Critical Conference on Zionism

As part of its ongoing mission to strengthen American Jews with Israel, the American Zionist Movement hosted a two-day conference about Zionism, designed to create dialogue and drive action. The conference, “Zionism: From Ideology to Action, Israeli and North American Perspectives,” was held on October 20-21 at the DoubleTree Hotel at Newark Airport in Newark, New Jersey.

The conference joined representatives from many of AZM’s diverse constituent groups with members of the local Jewish community to debate, discuss and deliberate the meaning of Zionism. Several elements related to Zionism were addressed, with each session based on a theme: what Zionism means to me, how to make it relevant today, if and how Israel is still central to Jewish lives and creating and sending a message about Zionism to others.

Attendees were roused by the many distinguished guests who spoke at the conference, providing varied but comprehensive views about their approach to Zionism. Ambassador Ido Aharoni, Consul General of Israel in New York, opened the conference. Several Zionist thinkers, including renowned authors Professor Gil Troy and Yossi Klein Halevi, provided stimulating discourse in discussions and participated in panels. Professor Steven Cohen shared the results of the 2013 Pew Study on Religion in Public Life, illuminating the procedures of the study as well as what the results mean for the Jewish community.

“It was an outstanding, remarkable, valuable, educational experience,” said Judy Shapiro, Coordinator of Jewish Heritage, New York.