Saving the Jews vs. Saving Jewish Character: The Conflict between Political and “Therapeutic” Zionism

August 3, 2017 | Micah Goodman
About the author: Micah Goodman is the author of six bestselling books and one of the founders of Beit Prat in Israel. In 2017, he was named by the Jerusalem Post one of the 50 most influential Jews.

In the first of a series of lectures on Zionism’s early thinkers, Micah Goodman contrasts two competing visions within the ranks of its secular adherents. The first, the primarily political approach of Theodor Herzl, focused on protecting Jews from anti-Semitism and the moral decay of assimilation by creating a Jewish state. The second—associated with Nachman Syrkin, Micha Yosef Berdichevsky, and Yosef Ḥayyim Brenner—saw the Jew as spiritually degraded by subjugation to the Gentiles and by Judaism itself, and aspired to create a new, liberated Jew. Goodman proceeds to explore a third alternative, espoused by Ahad Ha’am, that embraced the “therapeutic” version of the second group without advocating a complete break from the Jewish past. (Video, 53 minutes. Audio versions for streaming and download are available at the link below.)

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