Jewish American Or American Jew??? - - -?

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Resource Type: Discussion in: English
Age: 13-15
Group Size: 5-100
Estimated Time: 45 minutes

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Resource Goal

Goal: Based on everything we have seen so far on the trip, the assimilation, but success of Jews in America, the chanichim should discuss the question; is it ok to call America our home or not? Either way, they should understand that they can never fully feel totally at home in America while remaining loyal to Israel, and what ramifications this has on where we as Jews should be living.


Resource Contents

JEWISH AMERICAN OR AMERICAN JEW???

By Sarah Gordon

Goal: Based on everything we have seen so far on the trip, the assimilation, but success of Jews in America, the chanichim should discuss the question; is it ok to call America our home or not? Either way, they should understand that they can never fully feel totally at home in America while remaining loyal to Israel, and what ramifications this has on where we as Jews should be living.

Trigger: Show the chanichim the slogans for this years Israel day parade. Mention how YU and Bnei Akiva decided to get different shirts and not wear those slogans. Do you have an issue wearing those slogans?? Is there something wrong with calling America our home? What about equating it with Israel?

  • Is there a contradiction in feeling totally at home in America? What about the fact that 3 times a day we daven to leave to Israel??

  • At the same time, the Jews have never been at home anywhere as much as in America. Here, in Washington, in the government, you have tons of Jews who work at very high position, (Ex: Joe Lieberman).

  • Is it possible to be totally loyal to both Israel and America at the same time? Why?

  • Show the chanichim the Oath of Allegiance. Would you feel comfortable signing this if you had to become an American citizen?

  • Would you feel bothered by the fact that it states that (a) you give up any other allegiance to any other country and (b) that if America goes to war you would have to fight with them, even if it was against Israel

  • We say we are loyal Americans, but at the same time, if you had two political candidates running for president, and one would be great for America but bad for Israel, and the other one would be terrible for American but good for Israel, who would you as an American vote for? The loyal American would vote for whats good for America, but itd hard to say that any of us would vote for someone we would know to be bad for Israel.

  • Would you feel comfortable fighting in the American army either against or for a cause that would hurt Israel?

  • There is also the law that you are not allowed in America to fly the flag of a foreign country without having a bigger American flag flying too. We always fly Israeli flags. What does this show about our loyalties?

  • How do we balance having these dual loyalties??? According to the Oath we must only be loyal to America, and according to our davening 3 times a day, we should only be loyal to Israel!

    • The Reform Movement deals with this by originally taking out all mention of Israel and returning to Zion in any of their tefilot, as to ask to return to Israel shows you dont really want to stay in, or be loyal to the country youre in now!! The reform understood the stirah and held that way. (See their statement in the Declarations of the Pittsburgh Conference in 1885). Also on M.O.L. , you can see Reform shuls that have taken out in their shuls all mention of Israel!!! Is this a proper response or no??

    • Do we have these dual loyalties issues if we live in Israel? It seems only living in Israel, where everything the government does or anything you do is for the Jewish people do you get rid of the contradiction. Food for thought.

o How do we balance the fact that we as Jews have never been as accepted and as free as we are today in America?

o Are we too at home here? Is it negatively influencing us?? Think about the American Culture quizzes we took today and how well or badly you guys did on it. Also, think of all the communities that no longer exist. Those Jews chose to be American first and look what happened.

o It is no coincidence that G-d bless America was written by a Jew Irving Berlin, who escaped Nazi Germany to be saved in America. America is the best possible land, its democratic, freedom of religion. Secular country. Another holocaust cannot happen here (up for discussion too). How do we balance being so at home here and also being loyal to Israel? At the end of the day when Moshiach comes, we intend to leave America for Israel!!!

o If Moshiach came today, would Jews in America leave to Israel or no? At the time of Ezra, Jews stayed and sent money instead!!

Conclusion: There are no answers here, but the point is to show that it is impossible to be a 100% loyal American citizen while still being loyal to Israel. If you do decide to call both Israel and America your home, beware, as it is very very hard to live in American and not become totally lost in American culture and have the risk of assimilation. Is America the best country for non-Jews to live in? For sure! For Jews?? Or is it time to return to our real home.???

For the Israelis: This concerns them too, as they too should want the American Jews to come home, so that we dont have repeat occurrences of Titusville and oil city. Also there is a tremendous amount of American culture found in Israel too. Its also good for the Americans to hear their thoughts on it!!




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