Michael has been an educator for over 20 years. He was a founding member of the Torat Tzion Kollel movement in Cleveland, Ohio, where he and his wife Dara taught in and helped create the curriculum of the Fuchs Mizrachi School. Michael was the lead educator for ICNext, a training program for the broader Jewish Community in Cleveland. He was also a creative consultant the the Cleveland Playhouse. Michael studied philosophy in and received smicha from YU. Michael and Dara have five children and live in Efrat.
How do you know when something is done?
It doesn’t matter if you’re talking about dinner, a song, a movie or your homework. Something is begun with a purpose, and when that purpose is fulfilled, its done. So, to use those examples, when the food is edible, the last note struck, the last credit rolled or the last question answered - its done. Stick a proverbial fork in it.
What about a movement? Presumably the same rule should apply. Here are just a few illustrations of this point: The civil rights movement is done when everyone is treated equally in society by law and convention. Pacifism is done when there is no more war. Fascism is done when everybody is under one united rule and obeying in lock step. (God forbid!) There are endless examples one can give, but you get the idea, right? It ain't over till it's over.
We actively work on movements in motion. If they’ve succeeded, (like say, US independence) or failed, (like say the Luddites, or Marcionists) they make for interesting and informative history. But one cannot put one’s shoulder to those particular wheels. A movement can achieve victories along the way, but it isn't done with its work until it makes itself obsolete through success, or irrelevant through failure.
What about Zionism?
Good news! There’s a vibrant Jewish state! Does that mean the Zionism is done? Has it reached its goals and made itself obsolete? How can we tell? What were the goals? Why is this so confusing?
With so many different visions and perspectives within the world of Zionism, it may seem daunting to identify a unified set of goals to see if they have been achieved. But fear not! When the state was declared, the Zionist leaders stated their goals fairly clearly. There’s a historical preamble about the rights of the state, and the usual flourishes, but Israel’s Declaration of Independence goes into a set of missions that it seeks to accomplish. If we list them, we can tell if Zionism is done or not. Sounds like fun, right? Let’s give it a whirl. Here are what I think the relevant excerpts are:
THE STATE OF ISRAEL
will be open for Jewish immigration and for the Ingathering of the Exiles;
it will foster the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants;
it will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel;
it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex;
it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture;
it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions;
and it will be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations…
[we] appeal to [our neighbors] to establish bonds of cooperation and mutual help with the sovereign Jewish people settled in its own land…
is prepared to do its share in a common effort for the advancement of the entire Middle East.
WE APPEAL to the Jewish people throughout the Diaspora to rally round the Jews of Eretz-Israel in the tasks of immigration and upbuilding and to stand by them in the great struggle for the realization of the age-old dream - the redemption of Israel.
Now, I find that helpful. We can go down the checklist, and see what is still missing:
Is there enough justice to satisfy the prophets of old?
Have we integrated well into the region?
Has the rallying Jewish world applied themselves to ingathering the exiles?
And the REDEMPTION OF ISRAEL?! What does that mean? It so elastic, that it will mean very different things to Zionists of different approaches. Socialist, nationalist, religious and cultural Zionists, for examples, would probably understand that term very differently. But there is one thing we can safely agree on. The goal has not been reached.
Now, as mentioned earlier, the successes aren’t too shabby. The Zionist movement has already achieved accomplishments that are unparalleled in the historical record. Don’t believe me? I’ll pretend to ring a bell every time we mention something that has never happened on this scale before in history:
It has taken a people that survived exile for centuries, (ding) resurrected a dead language, (ding) restored self sovereignty, (ding) regathered many of its exiles from multiple continents, (ding) turned a barren land into a produce exporter, (ding) create a safe place for ethnic minorities in the Middle East, (ding) and so many other things big and small, that would make this tangent way too long. (feel free to add in the comments though)
BUT WE ARE FAR FROM DONE!
We are not accepting the success of the pioneers, we ARE pioneers.
We are not consuming the products of the builders, we ARE builders.
And we are not receiving the visions of the founders, we ARE founders.
Or perhaps I should say, we MUST BE pioneers, builders and founders. There is simply too much work for us to do as a team.
Are you in?