The Old Jew and the New Jew: Who Predominates in Israel Today? With Daniel Gordis and Asael Abelman

Before the state of Israel was founded, Zionist writers argued not only for the recovery of political sovereignty, but also that a new type of person would have to emerge to discharge the responsibilities of the reclaimed Land of Israel. The “New Jew” would be relieved of Judaism’s bookish habits and the weight of Jewish history.

Three-quarters of a century after Israel’s founding, what is the state of the New Jew?

The Mosaic columnist Eli Spitzer contends that Israel’s very success has downgraded the revolutionary ambition to create this new type of person. Looking around Israel today, he sees the fascinating reemergence of older, diasporic forms of Jewish life. On the same day that Spitzer published his short reflection, the Mosaic contributor Daniel Gordis published a newsletter in which he came to the opposite conclusion: the state of Israel is “not the end of the Jewish people, just the end of a certain kind of Jewish people.” In Israel, the New Jew is alive and well.

Who’s right? Join us, Gordis, the Israeli historian Asael Abelman, and our editor Jonathan Silver live on Tuesday, July 12, at 12pm Eastern time for a fascinating discussion about the the New Jew, the Old Jew, and the types of human personalities that the state of Israel tends to cultivate. 


How to Join:

This event is only available to Mosaic subscribers. If you’re not yet a Mosaic subscriber, just click here and fill out your information, then we’ll send you the details to join us. 

If you’re already a Mosaic subscriber, just register using the form below, and we look forward to seeing you Tuesday afternoon. 


Daniel Gordis is the Koret Distinguished Fellow at Shalem College in Jerusalem and the author of the ongoing online column, Israel from the Inside.

Asael Abelman teaches in the History Department at Herzog College and is a lecturer in Jewish history at Shalem College. He is the author of a comprehensive history of the Jewish people, Toldot Ha-Yehudim, which was published by Dvir in Hebrew in 2019.