Podcast: Daniel Gordis on the Rift between American and Israeli Jews

The scholar and commentator drops by the studio to illuminate what the divide is about, what it’s not about, and what it all means.



April 4 2019
About the authors

A weekly podcast, produced in partnership with the Tikvah Fund, offering up the best thinking on Jewish thought and culture.

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

This Week’s Guest: Daniel Gordis


The occupation; the Western Wall; the Nation-State law; the relationship between President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu. All of these issues and more have upset relations  between American and Israeli Jews, and the upset seems to grow daily. How did this happen? Wasn’t Israel a point of consensus in the American Jewish community until just recently, the cause that united Jews across the political and denominational spectrum?

Daniel Gordis of Shalem College believes that the growing divide is not over what Israel does, but is, rather, over what Israel is. In a series of insightful articles as well as in a forthcoming book, Gordis argues that the two largest Jewish communities in the world are animated by different attitudes toward the purpose of Jewish life and what it takes for Jews to prosper. It is these more fundamental differences, and not, say, the policies of the Netanyahu government or the rulings of the Chief Rabbinate, that are the true cause of the widening rift between the Jews of Israel and the Jews of the United States.

What about Israel as, until recently, a point of consensus for American Jews? For the answer, be sure to listen as Daniel Gordis sits down with Jonathan Silver to discuss the relationship between these two communities. Among the many enlightening moments in this podcast, they review the long history of American Jewish ambivalence toward Zionism, explore the different ideas and beliefs that motivate American and Israeli Jews, and try to define what it means to be a Zionist living in America today.

Musical selections in this podcast are drawn from the Quintet for Clarinet and Strings, op. 31a, composed by Paul Ben-Haim and performed by the ARC Ensemble, as well as “Great Feeling” by Alex Kizenkov.


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More about: American-Israeli Affairs, Israel & Zionism