The Zionist Conspiracy

A clandestine undertaking on behalf of Israel, the Jets and the Jews.

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Monday, May 01, 2006
My Yom Haatzmaut Confusion

When it comes to religion and Zionism, I have no real mesorah (religious tradition) or minhag (religious custom) that I can follow.

Years ago, I came to the conclusion that the charedi world's view toward Zionism is outdated and has little practical relevance today. I also came to the conclusion that Zionism and the State of Israel were and are good things for the Jewish people.

I therefore began saying Hallel on Yom Haatzmaut, usually quietly by myself in Boro Park shuls during the recitation of the amidah prayer. Some years, I said hallel in a fervently anti-Zionist chasidic shul at which I often attended morning services.

After a while, I started saying hallel but without the blessings. Then, I stopped saying it altogether, for two reasons. First, because I became aware of Rav Soloveitchik's position on the matter, and secondly, because the more I knew about the theology of religious Zionism, the more I felt that theology to be no less outdated and impractical as the charedi view toward Zionism and Israel.

As I see it, Israel is a good thing from both a secular perspective and from a religious perspective, and that's enough. It does not necessarily have any relevance to the beginning of a redemptive messianic era. So I'm religiously observant and a Zionist, but not a "religious Zionist."

I therefore won't be attending the Yom Haatzmaut service in Forest Hills tomorrow night, which at least to me includes too much of the messianic aspect of religious Zionism, and I won't recite hallel on Wednesday morning. I will certainly be observing the 58th anniversary of the formation of the State of Israel, but my observance of Yom Haatzmaut will be done privately in my own way.