Zionism In Chutz Laaretz - ?!

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Resource Type: Peula in: English
Age: 8-12
Group Size: 10-50
Estimated Time: 45 minutes

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Resource Goal

The chanichim will realize the complexity and the different sides of the issue of who is a real Zionist. Namely, that an American sending money to support the State of Israel, though important, today may not be considered by everyone to be a real Zionist.

Required Props & Materials
costumes for people to dress up as the following 4 kinds of people

Resource Contents

Trigger:The Four Faces of Israel (adapted from a sicha by Aliza Teplitsky)

Pick 4 chanichim as volunteers. Each takes the role of one type of Jew/Zionist. They are given appropriate costumes, and a brief profile of themselves.

Once they have read over the profiles, they are then brought back out in front of the group. The madrich/a then tells them and the crowd that each of the four characters were called here because they are siblings whose father has just passed away. In his will he has said that his large fortune is to be given to the child who is the most Zionist. Unfortunately he did not give a specific outline of what he would think the most Zionist person to be. It is up to the 4 children to plead their case based on their profiles of why they think they are each the most Zionist, and for the crowd to decide who out of the four is the ultimate Zionist.

Have each of the 4 chanichim present their character, and then open it up for discussion. Which person is the most Zionist? The 4 profiles should stay in character and the other kids should ask them questions. The hadracha should act as moderators.

Challenge the kids on the questions and points they are making play devils advocate. Encourage all the kids to debate this. Ask pointed questions and throw in comments to steer the discussion.

The point here is to get the chanichim thinking and talking. This has the potential to spark a great discussion here especially with the older and more mature bunks.


I. Points to bring up:

What is more important?

Serving in the army/believing in Zionism or actually living in Israel (even if you dont believe in Zionism)?

  • Giving money or not finding a job, but living there?

  • Sending money/political support or your presence in Israel by living there.

  • What you believe in your heart, or where you actually live?

  • Setting a dugma (make Aliyah) or teach others but stay back in America?

-How much are the people who are in America supporting Israel doing it for the chinuch/political reasons, and how much because deep down living in America is easier and more comfortable. How lishmah is their decision??

-Some Rabbis do chinuch in America for certain amount of years and then make Aliyah with large parts of their communities (R Berel Wein in Monsey). You can do chinuch/kiruv there for a while and then come.

-Shira may not believe in Zionism, but at the end of the day she lives there! Whats more Zionist then that? (Theres an anecdote told in To Dwell in the Palace where a Zionist living in New Jersey calls up his sister whose Chareidi, doesnt believe in Zionism but lives in Israel, and tells her, his son is going to Israel for the year and he doesnt want him going to visit her because her anti-Zionism will rub off on him. She responds: Anti-Zionism? I live in Israel, you live in New Jersey!! Whose the anti-Zionist??)

-Interesting facts: When Ezra tried to get the Jews to return to Israel and rebuild the 2nd Beit Hamikdash, most Jews sent money and did not come physically. A bad historical precedent?

II. Tying it into the theme of the day:

Ask the chanichim: What if Israel said they dont need political support or money, and what they really need is numbers of people moving there? 

(If one of the hadracha or one of the chanichim is Israeli ask them what they think. Its always more powerful hearing it directly from an Israeli).

Baron de Rothschild sent lots of money that supported and sustained Rosh Pina, Zichron Yaakov and Rishon LeTzion. Without his money and support these settlements would not have survived!!! But at the saw time the Baron called his home France and did not want to live in Israel. Was he a Zionist?

Today is the situation different then with the Baron? Today can the settlements and the State of Israel survive without American political support or money? (Even if its still necessary its still totally dependent as it was in the times of Baron de Rothschild).

Are Americans in chutz laaretz who send money and visit but dont make Aliyah real Zionists??

What is the role of American Jewry today? To give money or make Aliyah??


Firstly, there is no clear real answer. Since the four characters were very complex, probably none of them fit the chanichims sterotype of an ideal Zionist. Is there an Ideal Zionist? Unclear. Of course we want to push Aliyah but it is important to show that there are many reasons people do not make Aliyah and for them that is a valid life choice and no one choice is necessarily more Zionist than the other. This is however, only if they are doing it for the right reasons, and its not cognitive dissonance, or rationalization for not making Aliyah when the real reasoning behind their living in America is because America is comfortable and easy to live in.

Additionally, the chanichim should be rethinking the role of Americans living in chutz laaretz and sending money and support instead of making Aliyah. Yes, support is needed, but Israel will survive without it. Life is very different then when Israel could not have survived without the Baron de Rothschilds support. Israelis today say they need our bodies and presence in the land, not our wallets.

Finally, its good for chanichim to be thinking about these issues, and for them to see and hear other peoples opinions. It is an important discussion to have, no?

Good luck

Yair: You made Aliyah when you were 18 and after finishing your year of yeshiva, you joined the army. While serving you met a nice chiloni woman and soon after your service you got married. You became an engineer and moved to Tel-Aviv. Since then you have had 2 children together and have moved further and further from Judaism. Your children know a lot about the state of Israel and its history but know little of their Jewish heritage in terms of Halacha and minhagim. You consider yourself a true Zionist since you live in the land served your country and is continuing the legacy by teaching your children and instilling the need to serve your country in them.

Shira: You too spent a year in yeshiva and soon after returning to America and attending SternCollege for Women (yeah, SternCollege!), you got married. After finishing your degree and having your second child you and your husband decided to make Aliyah and move to Beitar over the green line. You have 5 children one of which is turning 18 soon and is debating whether to do just yeshiva or hesder, you are not imposing your opinion on him. You vacation back in America whenever you can and buy a lot of American products, but feel you are the most Zionist because you live in a dangerous place now with the matzav and picked up and uprooted your family to move to Israel. Your kids are well versed in yehadut but little in Zionist history; you feel that they do not need it as they live here.

Dov: You also spent a year in Israel as your other siblings did, but after completing yeshiva you decided to stay on and go to HebrewUniversity. After spending the 4 years there you decided that you could contribute more to Am Yisrael by being in America and teaching about Zionism and Aliyah. After returning to America you got your smicha from YU and at the same time became very involved in Hillel. You have influenced many young people that would not have otherwise spent a year in Israel. You help organize missions and rallies in America and send your own children over as well as a wholehearted supporter of the country. You feel your place is here and that you are doing more for the country than either of your other siblings since you are influencing the government here which we all know is very important and teach Zionism to the next generation to increase Aliyah.

Yael: You are a very successful lawyer. You decided not to go to Israel for the year after high school and instead went to Harvard law school. You are married with three children. After graduation you moved to New York and bought a penthouse in the 5 towns. As your successes grew you sent half of your earnings to Israel for many different causes. You send your children to Hebrew day school and Bnei Akiva and to Moshava for the summers. Your children talk of Aliyah all the time but you feel that the funds you send to Israel are very important and you would not be able to do that if you were to move to Israel. You are also quite influential here in terms of politics and feel that you can be more help to Israel being on this side of the world. You consider yourself and your family Zionists and vacation there at least 4 times a year, you even own a house in Katamon, but you think your place is here.

Related Resources can be found under:

» All > Eretz Yisrael > Zionism

» All > Judaism > Jewish identity

» All > Am Yisrael > Destiny

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