In researching his recent book, Like Dreamers, which follows the lives of seven heroes and veterans of the 1967 Six-Day War, Yossi Klein Halevi “was constantly amazed at the intensity of life in Israel, from the very founding of the state. I kept wondering how one small country could contain so much history.” (Interview by Philip K. Jason).
One of the characters in the book . . . participated in every one of Israel’s wars, beginning in 1948. Where else does life make such demands on the citizens of a nation? Sometimes it seemed to me as if we were trying to compensate for centuries of Jewish life without sovereignty by cramming as much experience into our national life as possible. . . .
My sense—maybe it’s only a hope—is that the next great outbreak of utopian energy in Israeli society will be spiritual, not political, and will focus on creating the next phase of Judaism. What kind of Judaism will we live as a sovereign people in its land? So far, we’ve mostly imported forms of Judaism that emerged under conditions of a persecuted, ghettoized minority. We need forms of Judaism that are worthy of the profound transformation in Jewish life we’ve experienced over the last two centuries, and especially since the creation of Israel.