The State of Israel as a Modern Jewish Enterprise: An Introduction


that the extremists among them ( who were many ) , the “ protest rabbiner , ” had no qualms about asking the goyim- the non-Jewish European authorities - to forbid Zionist activity . As early as the First Zionist Congress ( Basel , 1897 ) , Herzl sought to mollify traditional Judaism by declaring that it had nothing to fear in the state of the Jews , on the one hand , while , on the other , he forcefully stated , at the same time , that there was more than a single school in Judaism and that the state of the Jews would not be a theocracy . The Fifth Zionist Congress ( Basel , 1901 ) , to the displeasure of the religious delegates , discussed the “ question of culture . ” Many of the delegates demanded that educational and cultural activity head the movement’s program . In practice , Herzl joined the religious opposition , for two reasons : the first , his general view that the Zionist movement must concentrate all its forces on the political front to obtain an international charter that would recognize the goals of Zionism ; and second , his desire to maintain the unity of the movement , and to leave the door open for additional religious Jews to join its ranks . The compromise reached at that Congress left a lasting mark on the movement , and this was subsequently the basis for the “ status quo ” model and the arrangements governing the relationship between religion and state , to the present day . The compromise resolution stated that “ all Zionists are duty-bound to contribute to the education of the Jewish people in the national sense , ” but this declaration was limited by the recognition of “ the fact of the existence of two streams with equal rights , the traditional and the progressive . ” It was decided to appoint two committees : “ Progressive Nationalist” and “ Traditional Nationalist , ” whose members would be chosen separately by the members of each of the two streams , and each would act “ independently and freely . ” Nineteen years later , this model would be fleshed out at the 1920 London Conference of the World Zionist Organization , in a resolution that , in effect , laid the foundation for the approach of having different educational streams , first in the Yishuv and afterwards in the state . The relationship built between the secular majority and the religious minority not only reflected the political interests of both sides ; it was born also of a profound mutual need that deepened as the Zionist dream advanced toward its realization . Most of the secular Zionists saw the Zionist revolution as a national-secular one , that liberated the people’s spirit from the passivity of anticipating a redemption from Heaven ; nonetheless , they were not desirous of total severance from the ancient national heritage that was imbued with a distinctly religious stamp . They preferred to adopt some of the religious symbols and to “ nationalize ” them , that is , to impart to them a secular meaning . Moreover , because they comprised the majority and functioned as the national leadership , they were keen to appear as the representatives of the people as a whole , a considerable portion of which was in the religious camp . The religious Zionists , on their part , understood that , without a long-term partnership with secular Zionism , they would be defeated by the anti-Zionist ultra-Orthodox camp , and that they were capable of getting secular Zionism to agree to a modus vivendi that would not only enable a shared existence , but would also facilitate the building of an institutional , organizational , and - most importantly - educational infrastructure for the preservation and growth of the religious Zionist camp . The need of both camps ’ leaders for national unity not only reflected functional constraints resulting from coalition needs ; it also was born of an understanding that this partnership was a condition for laying the foundations for the future state . The “ Zur Yisrael” Compromise and Beyond On Wednesday , May 12 , 1948 , in the evening , two members of the committee that had been appointed to formulate the declaration of the establishment of the State of Israel , Rabbi Judah Leib Maimon

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