Zionism

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Zionism In the years just after World War II, Zionism (the desire to rebuild a Jewish national presence in the Promised Land) became a popular Jewish cause all around the world. Many Jews who were not practicing Judaism at all with religion became involved with the establishment of the State of Israel. Even today, many years after the successful founding of the State of Israel, there are Jews whose only real tie to Judaism is their belief in Zionism and their support for the State of Israel. They are joined by many Jews who are members of synagogues and support a modern Jewish religious movement, but who also find their prime identity as Jews in the Zionist cause. Broadly speaking, Zionists are proud that a small and struggling state made up mainly of Jews has created a modern democracy out of what were barren mountainsides, near deserts, and mosquito-breeding marshes. Zionists also point with pride at the ability of the Israelis to defend their land against the claims and armies of neighboring Arab nations. SECULAR JUDAISM Secular Jews express their Jewish identities in a variety of ways. Some feel attached to the State of Israel, but their Zionist leanings are not a strong driving force in their lives. Some feel a tie to Jewish religion and attend religious services from time to time, often on the High Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur , but they do not maintain a lifelong membership in a synagogue or temple. Some secular Jews express their identity through study sometimes returning to the study of Judaism in their later years, sometimes seeing study as a way of searching for their roots. Often, secular Jews look for spirituality——sometimes turning to Jewish ideas and practices, even if they never fully return ... ... middle of paper ... ...ic Judaism than they are in any other Jewish religious group. Unlike the vast majority of Jews in this or any other age, the Hasidim read the Bible as the literal word of God believing, for example, that the world was actually created in seven days. Hasidic Judaism is also cult-like in its demand for complete and blind faith on the part of its adherents who live in small tightly knit, carefully controlled communities. The Hasidic movement is the smallest Jewish religious group in the world Like many other radical, rightwing movements in the history of Judaism, Hasidic Judaism is probably vestigial——the last gasp of a movement which once brought new vigor to the Jewish world. Ironically, early Hasidism was the exact opposite of present day Hasidism——it set out to be a liberalizing influence in a Jewish world that was itself moving toward the radical religious right.

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