The Faces of Israel

by: Beit Kenesset Yisrael (BKY) Planning Team

See the related article, “Sacred Vision, Complex Reality: Navigating the Tensions in Israel Education.”


Israel as Safe Haven for Jews- Eretz Miklat: The destination for Jews under duress. This includes a focus on those who have fled to Israel and the need to financially support Israel’s immigrants and her capacity to protect Jews.

Israel as Land of Sacred Moments – Eretz Mikdash: The land of our ancestors in the classic Jewish texts and within the world of liturgy and worship. It also includes a strong focus on sacred places such as the Kotel and the messianic vision of Israel.

Israel as Country at War – Eretz Okhelet Yosheveha: Israel is examined primarily through the lens of the Arab-Israeli conflict and in the context as a country at war. This includes North American, international and Israeli political issues facing peace and security, the role of the IDF, and issues surrounding non-Jews in Israel.

Israel as Symbol – Eretz KeSemel: Here Israel is part of the decorations and aesthetic that marks a congregation, camp, or school as a Jewish institution. It includes Israeli flags, maps and pictures of Israel on walls, the playing of Israeli music over the intercom system, or the presence of Israeli media in the library.

Israel as Our Partners – Eretz Shel Shutfut Goral: This focus is on the Israeli Movement for Progressive Judaism, other organizations and projects in Israel that focus on shared Reform values, and the challenges of religious pluralism in Israel. This lens also includes ways in which Israel is seen as a Jewish partner, engaged in activities with local communities and around the world.

Israel as Larger than life – Eretz Gedolah meHaHayyim: This representation focuses on the larger than life narrative of Israel’s history and society. It involves the presentation of items such as the extra sweetness of Jaffa oranges, the technological advances of Israeli society, and the achievements of Israelis on the world stage. Conflicts and challenges are not directly associated with this notion of Israel.

Israel as Jewish/Hebrew Cultural Center – Eretz HaTarbut HaIvrit: A central source of new Jewish and Hebrew culture, including literature, visual arts, performance arts and aspects of culture such as food and wine. This presentation includes how Jewish culture is evolving within the context of Israeli society.

Israel as Home of Israelis – Eretz KeBayit: The focus here is on the daily lives of actual Israelis, including family and friends. This includes items from Israeli media that highlight both the similarities and differences between Jewish life in Israel and in North America. This lens also presents the social ills and tensions present in Israeli society, including the governmental corruption, poverty, civil rights, ethnic relations, and immigration challenges.

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