What is Observant Zionism?
Observant Zionism transcends religiosity and philosophy; it demands action. Observant Zionism holds that every Jew must take upon himself the mantle of mission driven mutual responsibility for our Home and our People. Observant Zionism is the pioneering spirit, vision, and pro-activity of reinvigorating our national renaissance in Eretz Yisrael. There is no one way to observe Zionism, the key is dedicated and elevated action. Just like all aspects of pluralistic Jewish life, Observant Zionism should take on wonderfully varied forms of expression that reflects the individual and their unique ability to contribute to Am Yisrael. Observant Zionism can not be limited to religious or secular spheres, it is part of our romantic, mystical and revolutionary national DNA. For some, Observant Zionism may translate into the building of community, modes of volunteerism, environmentalism sustainability, educational infrastructure, civic engagement, creating business opportunities, contributing to civil society, making Aliyah, or serving in the IDF. The Observant Zionist understands that early Zionism was a movement to build our state. Zionism today is still a movement, but now it is about building our Nation.
The phrase Observant Zionism may be new terminology, but its meaning is classical. Observant Zionism is firmly rooted in traditional Jewish thought, practice, tradition and imagination. Beginning with our ancestors such as Avraham, Sarah, Yehoshua, Ezra, and Nechamiah, our history is one of a yearning to build and enhance Zion. In later generations, Observant Zionism was expressed by giants such as the Ramban, the students of both the Bal Shem Tov and the Vilna Gaon, and continued with great leaders such as Herzl, Rav Kook, Jabotinsky, Ben-Gurion, and Begin. It continues today with every Jew who wants to be a part of Jewish history as it unfolds, working hard to substantively build our Home in the Land of Israel.
The Jewish People have always held that beliefs must certainly be followed by meaningful actions. God helps those who help themselves and as such we must be willing to labor in order to achieve our goals, for nothing worthwhile comes without effort. We believe that we have been put in this world to elevate the physical into the spiritual through taking what we know to be truth and integrating it into our material lives. The Jewish People have a Home that was given to us by God and earned in the merit of generations past. Today it should be the responsibility and noble honor of each of us to take an active part in advancing that incredible gift. In short, Observant Zionism is about the Jewish People tangibly connecting and substantively contributing to the Land of Israel, while maintaining the core values that have always separated the Jewish People from the rest of humanity. These values help us to construct a national identity, serving as a storehouse and a vehicle for constructive action. Observant Zionists seek a nation of substance, a national entity reflecting common ideals and a shared mission, bound by a sense of the past that enriches the present and inspires us to build a better future.
The Observant Zionism that the Am Yisrael Foundation champions makes the traditional relevant for today’s generation, nurturing the spiritual and physical pioneering energy needed to develop Israel. Our Observant Zionism advocates roll-up your sleeves modern action for a more meaningful collective present, and a stronger unified future. Although recent generations over the last century have blessed us with their successful efforts in fighting for the Land, defending our People, cultivating its fields, constructing its cities, and creating a modern country, there is still a tremendous amount of work needed for us to have the Nation we have prayed for over the millennia. For today’s young Jewish leaders, Zionism means far more than Bar Mitzvah parties, tree-planting dedications, Israel Bond certificates, hasbara rallies, and ten-days on a Birthright trip. Observant Zionism includes the notion that the entire world gets repaired when the Jews take elevating themselves and their Homeland seriously. This is the true path towards Tikkun Olam. What an incredible honor it is, that with a little bit of creativity and energy today’s new generation of Jews can substantively contribute to the next thousand years of our People and our Home.
Observant Zionism is the ideology of those who don’t just have a Zionist dream, they live it.